Belgium IBDs Positive on Market Prospects
KORTRIJK, Belgium – The lack of reliable market data made Velofollies show organiser Media Surplus decide to do a survey among Belgium IBDs. The results indicate customers are mainly attending the bicycle retailer for city bikes, but also that e-bike sales in the IBD channel are growing rapidly.
According to the market survey, the IBD market in 2013 expanded by 4.4% compared to 2012. This increase is primarily the result of a substantial increase in e-bike sales. Almost 61% of all IBDs indicated that they sold more e-bikes last year. Except bicycle sales via DIY stores, Decathlon, and web shops, the Belgian market increased in volume to 406,092 units in 2013, an average of 258 units per bicycle shop.
More than half of the market volume can be attributed to ‘women’s’ bikes with a market share of 56.1%. Especially female-specific road bikes, growing in popularity as more and more women leave the gym and start cycling. On top of that a growing number of IBDs create a ‘women’s’ corner in their showroom to showcase cycling products designed especially for their needs.
Broken down by product category, the market research shows that people are mainly going to the bicycle specialist for a traditional city bike (25.17% of all visits) and for parts and accessories (24.52%). It is remarkable to see that at 21%, the e-bike is one of the top three reasons for people to visit their IBD. Road and mountain bikes are listed fourth and fifth respectively.
The IBDs were unanimous in their answers regarding which product category has the biggest potential. It was again the e-bike, by a large majority of 93%. Thanks to tax incentives, the traditional city bike is often replaced by an e-bike for commuting. As well, the average age of the e-bike user is getting younger, making its potential bigger.
Belgium OEMs and importers expect that city bikes overall, particularly the more expensive models, will lose market share to e-bikes in the future. Thanks to new technological developments a growing number of consumers will shift from traditional city bikes to e-bikes.
Ranking as the second most important growth category were parts and accessories, while the Belgium IBDs still see road race as an important potential money-maker. In this bike category product development is a significant reason for people to buy a new bicycle. Electronic shifting and disc brakes have been important drivers for road bike sales.
Retailers noticed a growing popularity of a new phenomenon in Belgium, but well known in neighbouring Holland; the second hand market. Approximately half the retailers entered this once unimportant part of the business in what is seen as a side effect of the slow economy. Not everybody can afford the full price for new. Kid’s bikes are a big part of this new market.
The importance of the Internet as a distribution channel is also growing gradually in Belgium. Today some 10% of the bicycle retailers offer products online. When asked, some 20% of the IBDs are considering opening their own web shop.
For their survey, Media Surplus contacted 1,574 Belgium IBDs. With a response of over 21%, the results of this poll provided representative market data.