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Specialized's Entry Level Marketing Push

Published July 15, 2010

KEYSTONE, CO (BRAIN)—New high-end bikes were all the buzz at the Specialized Dealer Event this week in Keystone. But the company also is making inroads to better market its entry- and mid-level bikes through a new product hangtag.

“We’re trying to do a better job supporting and marketing these bikes,” Deacon James, director of ATB/recreation/kids, told dealers during an afternoon product presentation. “We spend a lot of time talking about high end, but we fail in terms of education on bread-and-butter product.”

Through the new QR Reader/QR Code program, Specialized retailers will have the option of displaying a barcode on a hangtag that consumers with smartphones will be able to scan. This will direct them to a Web URL where they can view a product video or slideshow that provides specific details, such as spec, graphics and colors for a particular model.

James said the tool serves as additional sales floor help, particularly on busy weekends when shops get inundated with consumers coming through their doors. He said many retailers have scaled down part-time or temporary staff—who are usually tasked with selling entry to mid-level bikes—to get a better control on costs in this slow economy. That got the company thinking of what it could do to help dealers “cover the floor.”

Specialized hired Todd Cannatelli in May to head up marketing of ATB/recreation/kids bikes, a newly created position. He will be leading efforts on this new hangtag program, as well as other grassroots marketing initiatives.

Cannatelli said QR codes have been around in Asia and other countries where they’re used in varying applications. “We’ll use it for a URL for video, slideshow to show colors or graphics—there’s a whole number of ways to use it,” Cannatelli said. He noted that many phones now on the market come equipped with QR Code scanning capability, and free apps are available for those that don’t.

The QR Reader/QR Code will go live in September. Cannatelli along with James and the ATB/recreational/kids team will develop unique video content. The hangtag program will cover the full range of bikes, from the $160 Hotwalk toddler bike all the way up to the $1,500 Rockhopper Limited hardtail mountain bike.

James said companies focused on high-end bikes struggle with the idea of promoting this segment of bikes fearing it diminishes or dilutes that high-end image. But Specialized is working to buck that trend in hopes of boosting sales across this segment of bikes.

“Most companies don’t market at the entry level, but this consumer needs to be educated,” Cannatelli added.

—Lynette Carpiet

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