LES DEUX ALPES, France (BRAIN)—GT unveiled a new strategy aimed at revitalizing the once influential brand to nearly 50 international journalists last week in Les Deux Alpes, a quaint ski resort town in the heart of the French Alps.
GT’s parent company, Dorel Industries, has committed a significant investment into rebirthing the brand, which has lost its way a bit since its BMX and mountain bike heyday in the 1990s, said Tyler Barnes, global marketing director for GT.
“We’ve basically been given the license to do whatever it takes to reshape the GT brand,” Barnes said. “We want to bring it back to the forefront and we’ve been given the tools to do that.”
That process began last year with a third-party audit of the brand that consisted of interviews with more than 100 cyclists. Research revealed that most people didn’t associate GT with its heritage of fast bikes—if they knew the brand at all—showing marketing folks that they couldn’t rely on GT’s past to build its future.
With that in mind, product managers first set out to rework the gravity, all-mountain, trail and endurance lines for 2011 and introduced the fruits of their efforts in Les Deux Alpes, where journalists tested bikes on kilometers of lift-served gravity trails and cross-country singletrack against the backdrop of the snow-capped Alps.
In retro fashion, bikes are splashed with purple accessories and frame colors and graphics pop in bright blue, neon yellow, bright green and orange hues. Nearly the entire all mountain line is spec’d with SRAM’s 2x10 drivetrain and GT continues to integrate its Independent Drivetrain platform on all full suspension bikes.
The line has slimmed by about 15 percent in the U.S. to reduce duplicity, but the product offering has broadened with better distinction between pricepoints, said Todd Seplavy, mountain bike product manager. Seven 29ers have been added to lineup led by the top-of-the-line Zaskar Carbon Pro race model.
“We’ve all seen the BPSA data, the Leisure Trends data; the 26 inch hardtail has shifted to 29er or full suspension products,” Seplavy said.
The product will be supported by a new Web site, online and print ad buys and increased brand presence at retail with help from Cycling Sports Group’s visual merchandising team.
To support sales of the brand in Europe, GT recently set up direct distribution France and Germany run from CSG’s European headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. The brand is already sold direct in Italy, Portugal, Austria and the U.K.
In the U.S., where more than half of company sales come from Performance Bike stores, GT is looking to gain proliferation in specialty shops while continuing its partnership with Performance, Barnes said.
That strategy is still in the works, but it could mean selling only certain models at Performance, he added.
GT staff has chosen not to promote the brand’s revamped identity to prospective dealers at Interbike, instead opting to devote those financial resources toward Eurobike and specific dealer events designed to create consumer pull in target markets, Barnes said.