CENTERVILLE, OH (BRAIN)—Rick Vosper updated his LinkedIn profile last week to reflect his new title: director at Airborne Bicycles.
His social media savvy will be relevant in his new role running the Airborne brand, which is pursuing an Internet sales and marketing strategy. Huffy relaunched Airborne Bicycles at Sea Otter with a plan to sell consumer-direct. It currently sells five models through two online retailers, Giantnerd.com and Randall Scott Cycle Company.
Vosper admits online sales will be a change as he’s always been involved with the specialty retail side of the business as former director of global marketing at Specialized, former vice president of marketing and brand management at Veltec Sports, and most recently as proprietor of his own marketing firm.
But he said he’s excited about the challenge the opportunity affords. “It’s a great 2.0 bike model,” said Vosper, who writes about the mechanics of the bike business in a blog titled Bike 2.0. “It involves consumers in a niche not particularly well served, which is $800 to $1,500 mountain bikes, in which no one is really doing direct-to-consumer well.”
Vosper assumes brand management from Reed Pike, who joined Airborne in January to launch the business. Pike was recently promoted to director of product for Huffy.
Vosper said it is a great deal for him because Airborne is a small company backed by a really big company. He can take advantage of Huffy’s factory connections, resources and business procedures.
Vosper said Airborne aims to bring a high-value user experience to the online channel. “Our strategy is to create an end-to-end marketing experience and make it easy for people to buy bikes,” said Vosper.
He recognizes Airborne still has hurdles to overcome with the direct sales model, such as the inability to offer test rides. But he said online retailers in other industries have overcome the issue of try-before-you-buy.
“Back before the Internet age it was commonly believed you couldn’t sell clothing online. Lands’ End did a tremendous job getting Americans to order clothes online,” said Vosper, adding that Amazon proved you could sell books online and Zappos proved you could sell shoes online.
“There is precedent in what each of these companies did, really selling the experience so consumers could buy with confidence. Bikes have their own set of hurdles and challenges we all have to work with. I have some ideas for getting around those.”
Vosper started at Airborne last Monday. He has wrapped up all of his consulting contracts, but will continue to write his Web 2.0 blog.