While in most parts of the world the bicycle business has already matured, in Latin America is just beginning. The bicycle business growth rates are very high in countries such as Chile, Colombia, Argentina or Brazil, and the business potential is huge.
Just in Chile, a country with 17 millions of people, the cycling market represents 150 million / dollars per year with a growth rate of 20% per year, year over year. In Chile almost 10% of the population rides a bicycle, to commute, for fun or to exercise
Despite this enormous potential, cycling brands in Latin America seem to have been sleeping, and the Marketing, Customer Experience and Customer Service practices are from ancient times. Just go into a couple of stores and experience it for yourself. For the rider, the shopping experience is traumatic, you can only buy what is available and it doesn’t come close to what’s available in the rest of the world. Shops lay-outs are outdated, bicycles are stacked, walls are overloaded with tires and equipment, and its staff lacks technical knowledge and customer service attitude. The shop owner in general is a former cyclist, very connected with the cycling community but with no marketing skills
The reality is similar with regards to the service: In warranty and maintenance services, the 90% of global brands of service parts and bike parts like suspensions, brakes, transmissions, etc. are very bad represented: the repair times vary between 15 to 45 days, this means that a cyclist can take at less 10 days without your bike.
Part of it can be explained by the history of the bicycle industry in Latin-America. The cycling brands have been represented by distributors who historically have not been linked to the sports world, and ran by people without passion for what they do. Of course, it is important to sell, but if this means losing the customer needs out of sight, and a disconnect with the market, the business loses its essence.
If we add the reality of the customer experience, the scenario is even worse: The advancements in communications in the recent years changed everything: The customer in Latin America is a cyclist of the twenty-first century, super-informed, open to the world and very connected, he knows a lot about the products and in general has already had an outstanding customer experience abroad.
The The opportunities are endless for the brands that decide to invest in improving the Latin American rider experience. Some brands have started with the first steps, but the market still has much to learn:
- Offer a complete product range,
- renovate the store-design,
- improve the presentation of products and brand,
- develop digital marketing & communication strategies,
- provide ongoing training of staff on customer experience,
- develop a customer services area, warranties and an efficient official technical services department
- commit to building and strengthening communities around the shops with activities that generate added value for the customer
And above all: working closely with the channel. In the end the channel brings our products to the customers and this is where rider expectations can be exceded.