Test riding a cycle is not often how a cyclist buys a product. It’s often based on reviews, feedbacks and online ratings. In a first in the country, Element Retail has opened an experience centre for Giant cycles. On the close heels of launching the experience centre, Aditya Bafna, MD and CEO of Element Retail, who has brought Giant cycles to India, talks to Indian Retailer. He speaks about the experience centre, the challenges for cyclists in India and why the brand wants to stagnate for the next couple of months. Excerpts:
What is the size of bicycle market in India?What is the market share of premium cycles?
Well, there’s no authentic or verified data available on the bicycle market share in India, but industry reports suggest that about 16 million units are sold in a year and around 0.5-0.25 million units of the total share are premium cycles. The industry has grown around 7-8% in the last two years and will continue to growth at the same pace for the next three years. Thereafter, we are hoping there will be double digit growth.
What regions in India do you think will be the key market growth drivers for Giant?
It certainly has to be the East India which holds huge potential for us as there are good trails for off-road trailing and the climate and infrastructure are supportive. I think any virgin state which is less explored but has good infrastructure in terms of roads and landscapes has good market for us. For instance, Nasik which is in the vicinity of Mumbai has huge potentials. So basically any Tier II city has good value growth as there is space to grow in these markets. Most of these cities have Smart City tags and from what we know prices are not a big concern to the customers in these regions. Although our cycles are premium products, there are a category of people willing to spend on the experience and are not worried about the cost.
The bicycle market in India is evolving. What are your strategies to take on competitive brands like Decathlon, Trek or Firefox?
Well, we don’t consider Decathlon to be competition, but yes Trek is a direct competitor in the premium market. With time, we have realized selling a quality product is not just about selling, but the experience of choosing a right product and buying a right product that meets your needs too is equally important. Hence, our exclusive store in Mumbai, which is an experience centre stands apart from the rest. None of our competitive brands have an experience centre where a buyer can ride, sit and test ride a cycle in a store. Our USP is our experience centre.
Tell us more about the experience centre.
The centre has a direct display of all our product categories which includes off-road, professional and on-road cycles. There’s a separate section for kids and a live platform for women. The trained staff at the store will guide the customers in choosing cycles as per the climatic and road conditions of the customer’s location. Each recommendation will be based on the geographical region of the customer. Further, a customer can sit, ride and test ride the cycle to actually get an experience of the cycle. Nothing like this has been done so far in any cycle retailing stores as the industry is still in nascent stages and not many players have tried launching experience centres for cycles.
What are your expansion plans?
We want to stagnate for the next 6 months, collect customer data and design our further expansion plans accordingly. We have decided not to open MBOs in bigger cities and instead open MBOs in cities where the brand has less visibility. Simultaneously, we want to improve brand presence in cities like Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata and Chandigarh as bigger cities have bigger consumption. Also, when brand expands in bigger cities our distributors and vendors will have more confidence in the brand.
Considering customers who buy premium products could be easily accessible on the ecommerce, what are your online expansion plans?
We do not have any online expansion plans as of now as we want to understand our customers and their needs. Also, we want to focus on the overall experience of testing and buying a cycle, and we don’t think the online commerce can do justice to this. Hence, our focus will remain on experience centres.