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Apparel maker’s study sees opportunity for IBDs

Published July 24, 2013

BEVERLY, MA (BRAIN) — Working with a research firm, apparel maker Craft Sportswear North America recently surveyed more than 1,000 cyclists about how they shop for clothing and accessories—and saw opportunity for specialty bike dealers in the results.

Respondents were almost evenly split in indicating their preferred channel for purchasing clothing, with 37 percent wanting to shop online and 34 percent looking to their local bike shop. For accessories, however, specialty dealers far exceeded online as the preferred channel, 60 percent versus 25 percent.

The leading reasons respondents cited for shopping at specialty were: customer service, cycling knowledge of staff, convenience and product knowledge. Meanwhile, price, selection and convenience ranked as the top reasons customers shopped online.  

When purchasing apparel, cyclists were most likely to say they looked for features (65 percent), technical aspects (65 percent) and fit (63 percent) over other factors such as price (28 percent) and brand (9 percent). This underlines the need for detailed product knowledge among shop staff, the study’s researchers said.

“The days of hiring minimum wage sales staff without experience in the sport or a comprehensive understanding of the products have come to an end. Sales staff must now be considered product experts,” said Alex Brooks, managing partner of Brookmark Research, which conducted the survey. “Brick-and-mortar retailers can do more than survive—they can thrive, if they can provide superior product knowledge and support.” 

Selection of apparel, however, appears to be lacking at local bike shops, the study notes. Only 14 percent of respondents cited selection as a key reason for purchasing clothing at specialty retail, compared with 71 percent who cited it as a reason to buy online.

Craft and Brookmark’s online survey was completed by 1,119 cyclists who had participated in road biking sometime during the previous two weeks, ride at least 500 miles a year, and had participated in a bike race, charity ride, gran fondo or triathlon during the past eight months, among other criteria. Eighty-one percent of respondents were men. 

Other findings included:

  • Respondents spent an average of $460 on clothing, helmet and shoes last year, and an additional $270 on accessories and other gear.  
  • Roughly four in 10 purchased apparel items including shorts, bibs, jerseys, vests and jackets more than once a year. 

The full report can be downloaded from the Craft website.

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