episode 88: canyon bicycles: blair clark on pioneering direct-first bike brand’s future

“We are a bike company that’s learning how to be a digital marketing company, and I think we need to be a digital marketing company that happens to sell bikes later”

– Blair Clark, President at Canyon Bicyles

EPISODE PREVIEW:

There are a lot of potential friction points when selling a bike online, not the least of which is the segment of independent bike dealers that are none too happy about the strategy. Eighteen months (or so) ago, when Canyon Bicycles broke into the DTC online consumer market in the U.S., the bike industry was on edge. How would it go? Was it the end of the Independent Specialty Dealer (IBD)?

Here we are, a year and a half later. Canyon, the disruptor, is doing great…and the bike industry is adapting and learning. The lessons are not only paving the way for the bike industry to uplevel its consumer-focus, they’re also strengthening Canyon’s brand and community.

Today I speak with Blair Clark, president of Canyon Bicycles USA. We talk about the challenges of DTC online bike sales, and importantly, the solutions to those friction points. We discuss the importance of doing what you can, when you can for your consumers, then working endlessly to protect and nurture the loyalty that develops. It’s not just good for the consumer and Canyon, it’s good for the cycling community as a whole. Regardless of the brand’s chosen sales channel, Blair recognizes that fostering a broader cycling community needs to be a top, unified goal for anyone who cares about the future of bike.

GUEST PROFILES:

Blair Clark

Blair Clark is president of Canyon Bicycles USA. Previously, he’s held executive roles at Smith, GU Energy Labs, Specialized, Giro/Bell, and Scott. He is an avid cyclist.

TOPICS COVERED:

Channel migration, channel strategy, direct to consumer sales bike industry, independent bike dealers, bike supply chain and lead time, Salesforce commerce cloud platform, the importance of customer service, event marketing for bike, removing friction in selling a bike

SELECT QUOTES:

“Hopefully, what we do is produce a consumer who is internet savvy, who then relies on the [independent bike dealer] for an annuity of a variety of services and products.”

“Cycling has done a disservice to itself in some ways by having separate little niches representing all of the little tribes.”

“We are a bike company that’s learning how to be a digital marketing company, and I think we need to be a digital marketing company that happens to sell bikes later.”

[On events] “That’s how we get out there and stay in touch with people and understand a lot of the issues that they might have with the adoption of our bikes or frustrations or pure jubilation associated with getting a bike.”

“There’s a performance based customer and there’s a lifestyle based customer, and they’re very different.”

“I’m not ignorant that there will be some bad experiences as a result of IBDs not wanting to work on our brand. But I think that’s really the rare, rare exception. The progressive IBD today has reached out and said, ‘Hey, how can we be a certified Canyon Assembler or repair center?’”

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