BY SHERI HEIN
MADISON, WI (BRAIN)—Following its split from Nike earlier this summer and the disbanding of the Discovery Channel Pro Team last month, retailers may have been unsure what to expect from Trek in 2008.
But John Burke assured them at Trek World in August that the company will be stronger than ever in the upcoming year. In his opening speech, Burke said Trek will double its investment in product development and increase its marketing budget by 47 percent in 2008.
He also stressed the importance of platinum and gold-level dealers—those whose stores carry at least 60 percent Trek products—and that Trek is expanding programs and perks available to them. He asked retailers to make a commitment to Trek and to be a part of the company’s future success.
Highlighting the growing global issues of obesity, pollution, global warming and urbanization, Burke introduced a new advocacy program: One World, Two Wheels.
“This is the industry’s greatest opportunity to create a bicycling-friendly world,” said Burke, Trek’s chief executive officer. “Cycling is a very simple solution to many complicated problems in the world.”
As part of the program, Trek will donate $1.6 million over the next three years to advocacy organizations dedicated to improving and promoting cycling. A self-imposed tax of $10 on the sale of each full-suspension bike will go to IMBA to improve trailbuilding projects, and $1 from every helmet will be donated to the League’s Bicycle Friendly Community campaign.
Trek hired Rebecca Anderson to the newly created position of advocacy coordinator. She will oversee the program and assist retailers with supporting advocacy at the local level.
“Advocacy means change. It means making a change over time. Every effort that everyone makes, whether it’s a dealer, a customer or a manufacturer, it all adds up,” Anderson said.
“The car culture is dominant. It is one culture we cannot change, but I want to change people’s minds about riding a bike. I want people to bike those two blocks to get the paper instead of hopping into a car.”
Trek will provide interested retailers with information on promoting advocacy, eye-catching POP displays and literature to educate consumers on the benefits of cycling.
To drive home the message, retailers at Trek World were presented with one of 1,000 Trek Lime bikes for a ride through the streets of Madison to an off-site event. The bike parade, complete with police escorts, drew curious onlookers and media attention.
“John Burke isn’t afraid to be the first person to jump on an idea,” said Rick Snyder of Mike’s Bike Shop in Dieppe, Canada, about the advocacy program.
Advocacy aside, innovations across the board—from the much-hyped Madone performance road bikes to Fuel full-suspension bikes and kids’ bikes—gave retailers plenty to buzz about at the Aug. 15-19 event.
“The energy this year is incredible. Everyone is excited about so many great products and improvements,” Snyder said.
The annual gathering gave retailers a chance to see Trek’s full product line, attend seminars and network with other dealers. Held at its headquarters in Waterloo, Wisconsin, retailers toured the factory where Trek bikes are designed and OCLV carbon is produced.
A wide range of 2008 bikes were on hand for attendees to demo in the rolling green hills around the headquarters and on IMBA-built mountain trails out the back door.
“It’s been 20 years since the first Trek World,” Burke said. “Twenty years ago this was a ragtag company with $3 million in sales, now we can have $200 million. We have proven that if you take high value products at good margins and turn it over quickly, you can go to the bank a lot.”