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Analysis of the Australian Bicycle Industry

In: Business and Management

Submitted By noelfer
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ANALYSIS OF THE AUSTRALIAN BICYCLE INDUSTRY

According to current data, bicycle retailing and repairing in Australia generates revenue of $812 million. 1,564 businesses employ 4,454 people. No one company enjoy a significant market share in this industry (Source: http://www.ibisworld.com.au/industry/bicycle-retailing-and-repair.html).

Bicycle Industries Australia Ltd has reported that:

• 2012/2013 imports totalled over 1.4 million bicycles – an increase of 16.6% on 2011/2012;
• Imports for adult bikes increased 21%
• Children’s bike imports decreased 7%
(Source: http://www.bikeoz.com.au/index.php/news/67-bicycle-sales-hits-new-high-as-children-get-left-behind)

A report released by the Prevention Research Collaboration of the University of Sydney has found:

• Cycling in Australia is increasing gradually resulting in: o Cleaner cities o Less congested cities o Less stress on public transport systems o More active healthier population o Reduction in greenhouse gas emmisssions o Reduction in rate of obesity
• Cycling offers commuters o Opportunity to say time and money o Chance to avoid stress of traffic jams, late trains, and crowded buses o Ability to incorporate physical activity into their daily routine
• Cycling provides multiple health outcomes

Recognising these benefits, Australia’s National Cycling Strategy aims to double the number of Australian cyclists by 2016, and The City of Sydney Cycle Strategy and Action Plan 2007-2017 aims to increase the number of bicycle trips made in the City of Sydney, as a percentage of total trips, from less than two per cent in 2006 to five per cent by 2011, and to 10 per cent by 2016. (Source: http://sydney.edu.au/medicine/publichealth/preventioresearch/news/Cycling%20to%20work%20in%20Sydney%202001-2011%20-%20final%20for%20website%20(2).pdf)

Unfortunately, the data obtained from the Census doesn’t ask about use of a bicycle for recreation, sport or other utility journeys and therefore underestimates total bicycle use.

Evidence obtained from both the United States and British markets show that the recreational market commands the majority of bike and related product sales. The American National Bicycle Dealers Association reports that 73% of adult cyclists ride for recreation purposes. This trend would also be mirrored here in Australia.

NEW PRODUCT OPPORTUNITIES RESULTING FROM INDUSTRY ANALYSIS

Three factors were considered when looking at new product opportunities:

• New-to-the-world products
• New product lines
• Additions to existing product lines.

Resulting from my research into the bicycle industry and product strategies, four potential product opportunities exist. These are:

1. The Electric Bicycle

Increasing our core product line of recreational bicycles through the entering the electric bicycle market has the potential to reshape the bicycle industry and motivate more people to take up cycling. Providing increased growth, revenue and profitability, it will add life to the product life cycle and will attract new bike riders to the market.

The market potential of e-bikes as predicted by Pike Research, is that global sales in 2018 will reach 47million units and US$11.9 billion revenue (Source: http://www.pikeresearch.com/newsroom/annual-sales-of-electric-bicycles-will-surpass-47-million-by-2018-2).

The electric bicycle (e-bike) is a normal bicycle with the addition of a battery pack and an electric motor battery pack that can be recharged at any time by plugging it into the mains. The motor is there to ease the burden of pedalling, making it easier to go uphill or cycle into headwind, and it will help you cycle further, with less effort, than you could on a regular bicycle.

Industry analysis of factors influencing entry to this new market shows that:
• Sales of electric bikes in Australia have been exponential;
• Resellers are reporting issues in importing enough stock to meet demand;
• Australia Post have 1,000 electric bikes in their fleet;
• In 2012, 100 million e-bikes were manufactured internationally;
• BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Panasonic and Samsung have now joined the electric bike market; and
• E-bike sales are forecast to reach more than 47 million by 2018.

2. Electric Bike Components

Three key additional components of e-bikes over regular bikes are motors, batteries and control units. All are electronic components which is an area that technology is pushing ahead.

The rationale behind entering this industry is linked to our proposal to enter the e-bike industry - fully outlined above. With the popularity of e-bikes comes the need to continually upgrade the capability of the components and also the need for greater speed. Thus, the market potential for e-bike components is extremely large. Approximately 30% of overall bicycle revenue is spent on accessories and spare parts.

“Electric bikes have been a ‘gift from God’ for bike makers,” said Edward Benjamin, an independent industry consultant, “not only because they cost more — typically US$1,500 to US$3,000 — but also because they include more components like batteries that need regular replacement “. (Source http://www.deccanherald.com/content/50195/electric-bikes-develop-global-industry.html)

All-in-one wheel products, simple DIY conversion kit to electrify bikes, batteries with greater capacity, LED screened cycle computer, soon to be introduced automatic transmissions will see existing readers wanting to upgrade and non riders wanting to purchase the latest model. With batteries requiring replacement every two or three years, new technology developments including enhancements to solar generated power, the addition of e-bike components to our product line is not only logical but will provide a continuing product market and financial benefit.

The opportunity is available to be involved in the very beginning of a very exciting industry that success on upgrading and purchasing new models. The mobile phone industry is a perfect example.

Re-purchases, new technology, up-grades will provide us with a constant revenue stream, growth and profitability.

3. The Gi-Bike

The Gi-Bike is a foldable electric bike which is designed to suit those commuters who want a simple, portable and inexpensive transport solution. It enables the rider to use both public transport as well as offering the opportunity to bypass traffic jams etc.

The portability of the Gi-Bike product is an opportunity that will provide us with access to a different market Featuring a carbon belt drive, GPS tracking, 60 Kms of riding without recharging, and even a USB charger, the Gi-bike weighs slightly over 16Kgs. Designed for the future, it is a type of a stealth e-bike, with secrets hidden in the frame and the power coming from a powerful battery.

Very little market size information is available on the size of the folding bike market; however, recent research undertaken in Los Angeles USA found that 85% of conventional bicycle riders could switch to folding bikes (Source: http://www.calstart.org/Libraries/Publications/Folding_Bike_Implementation_Plan.sflb.ashx).

Thus the market potential of the folding Gi-bike is closely linked to the overall size of the e-bike global market.

4. The ICEDOT Crash Sensor

The 2011 National Cycling Participation Survey found that in a typical week about 18% of Australians ride a bicycle for recreation and transport (Source: Australian Bicycle Council, 2011, National Cycling Participation Survey: National Fact Sheet). 3.6 million people ride for recreation, leisure or fitness and more than 1.2 million make at least one transport journey by bike. As a mode of transport, the survey found that people make trips on their bike to school, university, work, the shops and to visit family and friends. The market potential for the Icedot sensor is therefore in the vicinity of 3.6 million users.

In Australia, cyclists are among the most vulnerable of road users (Source: http://eprints.qut.edu.au/29579/1/29579.pdf, p.3). They have the highest proportion of self-reported near-miss crashes, which is significantly higher than that of motorists. The average probability of a cyclist being seriously injured in a collision was almost 27% and there were 35 pedal cyclist fatalities in 2011 (Source: http://www.bitre.gov.au/publications/2012/files/RDA_Summary_2011.pdf,)

The crash sensor mounts onto any helmet (which is compulsory in Australia). When paired with the ICEdot app on a smartphone, the system is able to detect motion, changes in forces and impacts. In the event of critical forces, the device triggers the app over Bluetooth to sound an alarm and to initiate an emergency countdown. Unless the countdown clock is stopped, the app will contact you emergency contacts and send them a map of your exact location and GPS coordinates of the incident.

The sensor is not restricted to cyclists but can be used by any sporting enthusiast who participates is risky activities – skateboarding, snowboarding etc.

As technology develops, the price of this product will gradually reduce and could very well be compulsory for any rider. It will allow us to enter a market that we can leverage on to sell to other markets. This will lead to increased market share and improved earnings performance to meet consumer’s wishes and needs with innovations today and in the future.

NEW MARKETS EVALUATION

Operating in new markets will result in different growth and profit potentials compared to the current situation. It would be prudent to utilise a number of marketing analyses to evaluate the potential of the industry and new markets.

Gap Analysis

Gap analysis helps analyse and close the gap between what we need to achieve and what is likely to be achieved if policies are unchanged. For effective gap analysis, we require to firstly undertake a needs analysis to identify and meet current needs, and anticipate / prepare for future needs. The major activities of the marketing needs analysis include:
• environmental study of factors such as demographic makeup, buying habits, consumption patterns, and other characteristics of the target market
• internal study of the company processes, systems, resources and other characteristics to determine its capabilities to fulfil market needs
This will lead us to the market potential analysis which looks at the entire size of a market for a product at a specific time. Determining the market potential of a product will require marketing research examine at least three factors - the potential customer base, the competition, and the current environmental conditions that may affect market potential.
Knowledge gained from the needs and market potential analysis provides valuable information to develop a market plan, and bridge the “gap” between market needs and company competencies. With all of these things in place then the analysis consists of addressing two questions, and measuring the difference between the two answers.
Where do we intended to be in X years, where ‘X’ is the planning horizon, say usually at least 3 years for corporate strategic planning? This is the target setting question.
Also, where are we likely to be in level of corporate results, in X years if we do not do anything different to what we currently are doing? This is the business forecasting question.
The difference is the ‘gap’ that we need to close by changes to our strategies.

SWOT Analysis

Another tool that we use is a SWOT analysis which looks at strengths and weaknesses as they relate to our opportunities and threats in the marketplace.

The strengths and weaknesses refer to our business and our products whereas the opportunities and threats are usually external factors over which we have no control.

The analysis points out the major strategic issues to be addressed in the strategic plan. The identified issues are important to the overall performance of the business.

SWOT Analysis of Electric Bikes
Description: An electric bike is a regular bike that has an integrated electric motor that can be used for propulsion.
STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES
• Sales of electric bikes in Australia have been exponential
• Resellers are reporting issues in importing enough stock to meet demand
• Changes in Australian design laws resulting in newer designs using latest technology
• Strong sales
• New technology has resulted in increased travel / riding distances
• Greater speed and comfort
• Immediate market availability
• Suitable for different user groups
• Non polluting • Many models available
• Models change quickly
• Prices relatively high
• Majority of electric bikes are imported
OPPORTUNITIES THREATS
• Future for industry is bright
• Technology development and innovation
• Increasing trend of wanting active lifestyle
• Increasing trend of wanting to improve health, reduce transport costs and reduce greenhouse emissions
• Useful in all geographic markets
• Technology is introducing new products and markets
• Potential high demand market
• Business development
• Government subsidies for electric bikes
• No registration or licence needs • Many competitors
• Impacted by season ability of the business
• Impacted by economic conditions
• Seasonality and weather effects
• Entry into this market from an established distributor recognising this is an area of growth,
• Exchange rate risk
• Legislative requirements limit motor size

SWAT Analysis of Electric Bike Components
Description: The three key additional components of e-bikes over regular bikes are motors, batteries and control units. Batteries will need replacing every two to three years.
STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES
• Sales of electric bikes in Australia have been exponential;
• Electrical components will require replacement and or upgrading
• Batteries need replacing every few years
• Immediate market availability
• Technology development and innovation
• Suitable for different user groups • New to market
• Electrical bike users only
• Majority of parts are imported
OPPORTUNITIES THREATS
• Useful in all geographic markets
• Technology based
• Innovative new designs
• New designs at reduced costs • Many competitors
• Entry into this market from an established distributor recognising this is an area of growth
• High costs for development
• Parts may not be interchangeable

SWAT Analysis of Gi-Bike
Description: The Gi-Bike is a foldable electric bike which is designed to suit those commuters who want a simple, portable and inexpensive transport solution.
STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES
• Innovative design
• Changes in Australian design laws resulting in newer designs using latest technology
• New technology has resulted in increased travel / riding distances
• User friendly
• Suitable for different user groups
• Size and ability to take on public transport
• Non polluting • Still in prototype stage
• Not yet available to market
OPPORTUNITIES THREATS
• Technology development and innovative
• Market demand is potentially high
• Design could be used for motor cycles Useful in all geographic markets
• Government subsidies for electric bikes
• Petrol prices high
• Low commuting cost
• No registration or licence needed • Many competitors in folding bike market Impacted by economic conditions
• Seasonality and weather effects
• Entry into this market from an established distributor recognising this is an area of growth,
• Exchange rate risk
• Legislative requirements limit motor size
• Construction defect – folding too early
• New to market with high cost

SWAT Analysis of ICEdot Crash Sensor
Description: The ICEdot is a small yellow pod that combines GTS and Bluetooth and smartphone technology to detect an impact and notify emergency contacts.
STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES
• Technology based
• User friendly application
• Immediate market availability
• Innovative and trendy
• Suitable for other user groups
• Ease of installation
• Needs installation to bike helmet which are compulsory in Australia
• Main focus is on emergency contact
• Directly developed for cyclists
• Positively impacts on riders safety • New to market with high cost
• Completely new application which may have bugs
• Could produce false signals
• May not be useful for users with hearing impairment
• Gaps in capability – not able to be used on all smartphones
OPPORTUNITIES THREATS
• Market demand potentially high
• Suitable for other markets – skateboarders, snowboarders
• Possibility to use with other applications
• Possibility to market to every bike owner in Australia
• Could be combined with tracking systems for children Useful in all geographic markets • Future development may be high
• May not support all smartphones

Porter’s Five Forces Model

The model uses the forces of new entrants, competitors, suppliers, buyers and substitute products to determine the profitability of an industry and shape an organisations competitive strategy. The stronger the competitive forces, the less profitable. In contrast, an industry with low competition and high barriers to enter is seen as more attractive with higher profits.

Porters Five Forces Model on the Electric Bike Industry

Threat of New Entrants - LOW
• High capital requirements
• Supply side economies of scale
• Established brand image and reputation
• Switching costs may be high
• Access to suppliers and distribution channels

Rivalry Amongst Competitors –MODERATE
• Slow industry growth
• No company enjoys significant share of market
• Products not differtiated and can be easily substituted
• Few switching costs
• Exit barriers high

Threat of Substitute Products – MODERATE
• Products not differentiated and can easily be substituted
• Performance / quality of substitutes
• Slow industry growth
• Many other modes of transport available

Bargaining Power of Buyers - HIGH
• There are many brands
• Little diffentiation between products
• Size of buyer and order
• Switching costs low
• Backward integration

Bargaining Power of Suppliers - LOW
• Many suppliers
• Switching costs may be high
• Majority of suppliers are in Asia where costs are low
• Supplier has other avenues of revenues
• Supplier may not be dependent on buyer

Porters Five Forces Model on Electric Bike Component’s Industry

Threat of New Entrants - LOW
• High capital requirements
• Supply side economies of scale
• Switching costs may be high
• Access to suppliers and distribution channels
• High barriers to entry

Rivalry Amongst Competitors – LOW
• Large number of manufacturers and exporters of product
• Can only use components designed for that model
• Switching cost may be high

Substitute Products – LOW
• Can only use components designed for that model
• Customer loyalty
• Product life span

Bargaining Power of Buyers - LOW
• Can only use components designed for that model
• Customer loyalty
• Product life span
• High switching cost

Bargaining Power of Suppliers - HIGH
• Can only use components designed for that model
• Majority of e-bikes and components are imported into Australia
• High switching cost

Porters Five Forces Model on of Gi-Bike in the Folding Bike Industry

Threat of New Entrants - LOW
• High capital requirements
• New technology
• Prototype
• Switching costs may be high
Rivalry Amongst Competitors – HIGH
• Low growth rate
• Specialised product
• Few substitutes for specialised product

Substitute Products – HIGH
• Many other folding bike transportation options available
• Low switching costs
• Different brands available
• Buyers price sensitive

Bargaining Power of Buyers – HIGH
• There are few buyers
• Many substitute products
• Size of order

Bargaining Power of Suppliers - HIGH
• Small number of suppliers
• Few buyers of specialised product
• Supplier relies on industry for revenue

Porters Five Forces Model on ICEdot Crash Sensor in the Emergency Communications Industry

Threat of New Entrants – MODERITE/HIGH
• New technology is enabling production at lower cost
• Easy to design similar app
• Easy access to distribution channels due to size of pod
• Functionality can be used by other target markets

Rivalry Amongst Competitors – LOW/MODERATE
• No company enjoys significant share of market
• New product to market
• Small number of dealers
• Economies of scale
• Low entry barrier

Substitute Products – LOW
• New technology
• Early in product life cycle
• Few alternatives available
• Quality of substitutes
• Focus on safety with large public awareness

Bargaining Power of Buyers - LOW/MODERATE
• New product to market
• Minimum order requirements
• Large number of customers purchasing small quantities
• No company enjoys significant share of market
• Few alternatives available
• Potential to be outdated with new technology

Bargaining Power of Suppliers – LOW/MODERATE
• Small number of suppliers
• Few substitutes
• Suppliers serve multi industries

MARKETING OPPORTUNITIES

I have used a SWOT analysis and Porter’s Five Forces Analysis to the attractiveness of entering new industries respectively. The three marketing opportunities that exist within the bicycle and associated products market are:

1. The Electric Bicycle
The SWOT analysis showed that the number of conventional bicycles sold is reducing whereas the e-bike sales are increasing. An older market is leading the growth of sales because of the increased comfort, speed, as well as the ability to perform personal exercise. The average speed of the e-bike is 25Kn/h which means that the bike can travel a larger distance in the same time. The existing resellers of the e-bike are facing challenges is suppling customer demands for the product. The future of this industry is bright with technology developments driving the demand for improvements, and federal, state and local governments investing in cycling infrastructures. There is the potential for business development as provided by the fact that Australia Post has 1,000 e-bikes in their fleet. Weaknesses and threats are few and relate to the price of the e-bike, number of models available, the weather, and exchange rate risk as the majority of this product is manufactured in Asia and exported to Australia.

Porter’s Five Forces analysis of the e-bike industry reveals that it is an attractive industry returning moderate profits. There are high barriers to entry – high capital requirements, established supplier and distribution channels and economies of scale in manufacturing. Competition is moderate as no one industry player controls a large portion of the market. The majority of e-bike product are not differentiated and can easily be substituted. Although there are many forms of other transport available, recent developments in technology are a major factor behind the popularity of this product as seen by the switch from conventional cycling. The bargaining power of buyers is able to be leveraged upon through the size of the order and the low switching cost which enables us to look at other manufactures given that there are many.

2. The Electric Bike Component Industry

Our SWOT analysis of the electric bike component industry provided very similar results to the e-bike analysis. The main strength is the need to replace the batterery every two to three years. Owners of the e-bike will not look at upgrading their bike as frequently as the need/desire to upgrade electrical compnants due to age and or new technology improvements. If the bikes do not have standardised specifications, this provides us with greater strength in entering this industry and will reduce the threat of another competitor entereing the market.
Porter’s Five Forces analysis again revealed that this would be an attractive industry to enter due to the low threat of new entrants, low rivalry among competitors, low use of substitute products, low bargaining power of buyers and the high bargaining power of suppliers. A large capital investment will be required by new entrants together with knowledge of the industry and access to the supply and distribution channels. Our existing relationship with bike manufactures will provide access to suppliers. Technological developments in battery life extension, and changes in government policy allowing increased e-bike speed will forster the desire to upgrade components thereby making this an attractive industry to venture into.

3. ICEdot Crash Sensor
The ICEdot crash sensor is relatively new to the Australian bicycle market however, the analysis indicates this to be a strong industry that will feed other industries outside of our core. The SWOT analysy showed strengths relating to its technological design, its ease of use, its immediate market delivery. It is trendy and innovative and suitable for use by other target markets such as skateboarders, snowboarders, even bushwalkers. It can also leverage off the manadory bike helmet requirement that exists both here in Australia and in New Zealand. Many other opportunities are available with this product – possibility to include with every helmet sold in Australia, tracking device for children etc. The product also also leads itself to forward intergration via e-commerce markets.

Using Porter’s Five Forces Model, this product has the potential to provide high profts and shape our future competitive strategy. There are moderate to high barriers to enter this industry due to the technology involved. The rivalry between competitors is low as it is a new product and there are only a small number of resellers. The economies of scale, minimum order requirements, lack of substitute products, marketability to other none core markets, all point to an attractive industry returning high profits.

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