Wayne Patterson is a man on a mission and it’s not just to be King of The Mountain on Strava. National Marketing Manager of 99 Bikes he’s leading the charge to empower consumers (and millennials) to enjoy active lifestyles and reap the benefits of healthy living. I convinced Wayne to put down the Clif Bar and crack a few froths post-ride.
Mate, it used to be that there was a distinct set crowd of people rocking lycra or running apparel. Now, every second person in the millennial demographic is wearing activewear these days. Heck, running shoes are huge on street-fashion scene now. What do you think has been the biggest reason for the shift to a health-based, almost health-obsessed generation?
Great question – my guess would be education and understanding. There are obviously a lot of benefits to leading a healthy lifestyle and plenty of risks associated with avoiding it. So if people really comprehend the the ‘whys’ & ‘hows’ of active living they inevitably buy into the idea. The ‘hows’ are probably the biggest obstacles to overcome. People need to be able to access the information or tools that help with understanding proper exercises, nutritional options, or where to do draw motivation, these elements – the ones you need to help plan and execute a healthy lifestyle – are critical for millennials. Once they’ve bought into the idea and have some semblance of a plan in their heads they’ve overcome the biggest hurdle. From there it’s a ‘see what others are doing, copy it and find out what’s right for you’ thing.
Cool, so they’re primed and ready to engage in physical activity, health-conscious diets. But, of course, there are so many pathways and activities out there that all lead to the same result. So, do you find that 99 Bikes is competing for attention against other sports / health industries? Or has it benefited everyone equally?
Yeah of course. I mean this mindset shift is great for everyone, but of course you are competing with other activities. There is only so much time in the week and dollars to spend, so as a consumer you pick what you like the most; what is most attractive to you personally.
Right, so there’s a huge opportunity to market to this giant segment of consumers looking to get active and they’ve got money burning a hole in their pocket. But millennials are known to be very price-conscious – they’re not the only ones. Is simply offering the lowest price or a price guarantee enough to win them over? What have you found to be the most important factor for marketing to millennials?
You’re absolutely right – I think Millennials are very price sensitive. I would suggest that price is the most important, but not one thing will win your audience over on its own. You need people to want your product, know you exist and then want to deal with you. There is a lot that goes into that equation, as I mentioned before, it comes back to education and understanding. A majority of Millennial consumers will sell themselves on a product through their own research. So you’ve got a lot of educated consumer, with a decent understanding of their options for purchases; pricing then becomes a big factor in deciding which one of those options to choose.
I imagine they’d be whipping their phones out and scoping out Google or multiple sites for comparison as they’re shopping. Holding their attention and getting a word in seems to be a real challenge these days. Have you had to alter your marketing to cater to new mediums and channels over the past few years?
Yeah, marketing is hard man. Anyone that tells you otherwise is more likely to be unaware than exceptionally talented. Definitely proliferation of mobile has been a big thing in that is great in terms of people digesting more information, But, it makes it even harder to judge success.
For example, let’s say you’ve got an email campaign that someone opens on a desktop at work that gets them really keen to buy something, and then they search you on mobile on the way home to look through your site more. They might leave it at that for a while and return a bit later to find a store location to visit on weekend, before finally purchasing something several days later. That’s just one of an infinite number of pathways a prospective customer might take.
At the end of all this how a person made it to your shop or how all those different marketing investments are performing and contributing is fairly murky.
Well, the growth of 99 Bikes over the past few years suggests whatever you’re doing is working a real treat. How have you overcome the obstacles you mentioned?
Truthfully, I wouldn’t say we have completely overcome that, But, we invest a significant amount of time getting into the details of how different channels contribute, we apply the most up-to-date, real data and be as critical as possible where we can, It’s an art and a science I guess and we’re constantly trying to get better at both.
It’s great that you mentioned the growth of our business actually. I think most of what we have altered has been around supporting that rapid growth. We have really focused on different things at different points in time depending on where we were at as a business to ensure that the most pertinent things were taken care of.
Mate, you guys are killing it! Your store footprint is the largest in Australia for cycling. I’ve noticed though that you’ve invested heavily in eCommerce. What’s the uptake like from those digital-first consumers for online shopping in your space?
Really good, we’ve had steep growth in that area for a number of years now and we’ll continue to invest in improving the online and omni-channel experience for our customers. Bikes are a physically big, somewhat complicated and a high consideration purchase though. So from that perspective, our customers really get a lot of value from the in store experience with our sales consultants, but definitely for the lower ticket items, online is a big area for us.
So do you think being a purely online retailer would ever be on the cards for you? People have been speculating for a while that bricks and mortar stores will be soon be obsolete. Do you think that’s true?
No – to both of those questions. Shopping centres and retail stores are valuable to customers in their own way. Just as a website is valuable to customers in its own way. Neither is better or worse, it just creates a different landscape for businesses and consumers, and presents different challenges and opportunities. I think that is fair to say that in some industries, bricks and mortar stores are more vulnerable.
Speaking of opportunities, what do you see as the biggest trend amongst your millennial customers?
I’d say the incorporation of technology into riding is one that you could call a solid trend. There’s a lot of demand to for products that track the data of what you’re doing (GPS etc.), as well as things to help you reduce the time in which you have to detach from your smart phone.
You know what, that reminds me of a funny sound that seems synonymous with cycling now. The noise of Garmin devices being started and paused as people come and go from a coffee shop.
I was wondering when technology chat would pop up! I can’t let you go without grabbing an app recommendation. So, what’s your top app for health, fitness or cycling that people might not know about. You can’t say Strava!
Can I have two? One is a bit of a shameless plug for an app called Zova that a good friend of mine created. It’s a personal trainer app aimed at women – brilliant design and content – they won an Apple design award earlier this year.
The other is MyFitnessPal – I plug all my food and exercise into that every day and it’s great for helping you understand what you’re eating.
On that note, I’ll go order some chicken wings and you can get the next round…