In recent years, the USA bicycle industry has experienced a slow, steady growth amid a series of disruptions. Between 2014 and 2019, dollar sales grew at a compound rate of 3 percent. With each passing year, consumers spent more, propelling impressive investment in burgeoning new segments such as gravel, E-bikes, composite bikes, event bikes, and kids’ bikes. At the same time, ongoing structural shifts spurred digital distribution models also garnering a share of overall revenues.
Trends of the Bicycle Industry
In 2020, a uniquely disruptive phenomenon, COVID-19 hit the bicycle industry. The economy contracted for the first time since 2009. But the bicycle industry has been an outlier. Current data shows that bicycle industry unit sales grew by 28 percent in 2020. With vaccines and effective therapeutics available, consumer behavior will not revert to pre-covid levels. The bicycle industry stands to benefit from the behavior change from the pandemic for two primary reasons:
- The industry is in an exciting state of evolution. The cycling trend is accelerating rather than slowing down.
- More importantly, the crisis has brought changes to consumer behavior that are likely to stick. This pandemic pulled the future forward, compressing several years of projected growth into just a few months. Here’s one example. As recently as 2019, unit sales in the USA declined by more than 20 percent. In 2020, retail sales skyrocketed by more than 40 percent. By 2025, the USA bicycle industry revenue is projected to be $8 billion.
Going forward there will be a “new normal.” That “normal” will be a state in which recent changes in consumer behavior become entrenched and gain in strength. The pandemic has caused considerable disruption in how consumers live, work, and play. Homeworkers value personal mobility, realize the value of a bicycle, enjoy the pleasure of cycling while expanding their appreciation of the complete cycling experience. Because of Covid-19 new behaviors have become entrenched.
Compelling Factors Influencing the Growth of the Cycling Sectors
People are spending much more time at home - both for work and for leisure. As travel shrinks, people are willing to spend more on family recreational activities close to home, investing more in themselves. We won’t see a snapback. The more people stay and work close to home, the more they will seek cycling as a way to adapt to the new recreational opportunities. The more exciting and compelling cycling activities become, the more people will focus on health, preserving wealth, security, wellness, and fitness.
Discovering the joy of cycling
Craving an expanded relief from isolation and stress, consumers want the freedom of simplicity, and cycling fits the bill. The industry is aggressively fostering this experience. Brands within the industry are now more adept at engaging consumers in transportation, utility, personal health, and well-being. Consumers are willing to spend more money in order to meet their transportation, health, wellness, and fitness needs. Much of that spending was previously directed externally: on clothes, travel, and dining out, and entertainment. Unable to get away, people are willing to invest in products that deliver personal enjoyment and engagement. They will continue to seek experiences that offer connection, utility, and self-development.
Bikes are now the new “joy ride” for adults
Today, consumers can ride, stay socially distanced, and satisfy the need for social engagement among like-minded people, family, and friends. Consumers seek experiences that aren’t mere substitutes for live experiences, but improvements on them. Cycling fulfills this need. Consumers are open to exploring new realities and will spend time in new, immersive, physical, and social experiences. And as they do, they will place a high value on cycling and its emotional, intellectual, mental, and physical rewards.
Human power pedals new wheels
Research finds consumers are riding more, not only for sport, recreation, and performance, but also for transportation.
These changing behaviors will require the business to pivot and invest, opening new opportunities to capture growing demand. Not only is this behavioral change prevalent in the U.S., but it is also a global trend as well. Component input makers, assemblers, brands, and retail outlets will have to invest and scale up to service these growing needs.
Bicycle sales within the developed EU and North American markets are forecast to more than double within the next 10 years, led by E-bikes, children’s bikes, and higher valued sport and performance bicycles.
There is a dedicated effort to continue to fuel the engagement through:
- Government subsidies & support
- Building infrastructure and friendly environments
- Collaborating with governments on regulations to protect riders
- Educating and teaching youth and new riders
- Proactive industry advocacy
- Available innovative products of the best quality and greatest value
- Working together to build a cycling culture
The coming decade is likely to usher in more changes and increased usage, as cycling becomes more socially acceptable, safe, personal, convenient, a reliable means of personal mobility, and more experiential. We are all adjusting to change and adjusting to new consumer behavior patterns. Taking advantage of the coming waves of opportunity will require more investment, efforts, passion, agility, and responsiveness.
The future is now. Industry leaders and suppliers need a sense of urgency - and a mandate - to believe and invest. It is critical to develop strategies that will enable the business to meet consumers’ demands now and in the near future. $6b is at the doorstep. Are you going to act?