What do bike parking and burgers have in common? In this context, it is marketing: what can we learn from big brands such as McDonalds when it comes to ‘selling’ everyday bike use? And how does bike parking help businesses and the uptake of bike use?
Brand and market
McDonalds are great at marketing and brand recognition. Despite a lack of custom from our family, I was blown away by how young my children were when they could recognise the ‘golden arches’ on a McDonalds branded car being driven past them. McDonalds use a strongly recognisable brand image, repeated, and repeated and repeated via saturation marketing to achieve such strong brand recognition. They then aim to link that brand recognition to a positive and repeatable customer experience for maximum effect.
Takeaway: Bikes (parked or ridden) are our brand image, and the more of them we see the bigger the impact.
Just try it, you’ll like it
Consider this scenario: you’ve got a great product, you just know the world is going to love it and then you can sell a ton of it….. but how do you get them to try it? A lot of marketing effort goes into solving this dilemma. Free samples, discounts, trial sizes, taste tests, advertising, product bundling…. We know bikes are fun and fabulous, and are confident plenty of people would feel the same way if they just gave it a go. This is where the THE AOTEAROA BIKE CHALLENGE has an effect.
Consider this: A lot of the promotion of cycling focuses on the workplace and biking to work, and why not, that will deal to a lot of congestion. But consider this, before you feel brave enough to try biking to work, wouldn’t you like to try and enjoy a few easy trips to the shops, local cafe or your library? And if these places have bike parking, doesn’t that help make them target destinations for your first forays?
Takeaway: Bike Parking can help create destinations for would be bike users to aim for whilst they ‘try out’ biking and build their confidence.
My story: Long before I was brave enough to try biking to work, I was biking to local cafes and shops. I really liked having a ‘destination’ and purpose to my biking, and was only confident to turn up at places where I felt both my bike and I would be welcome. I looked for places frequented by other bike users, and bikes parked out the front was a strong endorsement.
Repetition and Reliability
Habits are formed via repetition, and humans are such creatures of habit. We’ll sit at the same spot, buy our coffee in the same place and eat the same breakfast cereal because we know it is a ‘given thing’, a known quantity, likely to give us a positive experience. So if we want people to adopt a behaviour we need to provide a good experience, make it easy to do again and reward/reinforce repetition.
Takeaway: Bike parking is a great thought trigger and a business that makes bike users feel truely welcome will provide a rewarding experience worthy of repetition.
The Competitive Edge
Every marketer wants some selling point that sets their brand aside from the competition. Cadbury have ‘a glass and a half of full cream milk’ and Energiser have ‘longer lasting’ batteries. Other products use distinctive or innovative packaging (were you convinced your milk would last longer in an opaque bottle?).
Takeaway: Being the business that offers bike parking and a warm welcome to bike users will set you apart. Those bikes parked out front will make you look like the place to go. And it will certainly set you apart from competition who haven’t caught on yet.
Story: I have a number of places I can buy office suppliers from, ranging from big chain stores, through franchises to independent operators. I choose the one with the bike rack out front.
I grew up thinking that places where truckers stopped and ate must have the best food. Yeah, nah; my illusions were shattered when someone explained to me that it was just about somewhere with space to park their trucks and quick service. Maybe that is why we tend to stop at McDonalds or BurgerKing only when we are on long road trips (by car), because it is easy to park, easy to choose, easy to get going again.
Takeaway: Be the easy option for bike users and be rewarded with both repeat customers and the influence their presence has on others.
Story: I hate trawling for a parking spot, I always have. Back in my car-centric days, once the Christmas period rolled around I would either avoid the shops altogether, or park across the quiet side of town and walk to the mall from there. Once I discovered bike use I felt I had some superpower – convenient parking, always! No more carpark queues and fumes for me.
The ‘Combo deal’ for Business
Attracting bike users to your business differentiates your business, attracts customers and encourages them to come back.
‘Upsizing’ Bike Use
‘Bike use’ is a brand, and the more brand exposure, the bigger the impact on people considering giving it a go.
Bike parking delineates destinations: giving novice bike users somewhere to aim for. Everyone has to start somewhere, and a few trips to the shops may precede the decision to commute.
Bikes Welcome want to use the principles of marketing, psychology and business to grow everyday bike use and get great bike parking. Please help us establish Bikes Welcome in New Zealand and support our Pledge Me campaign.