We have a strategic focus on 11 European brands: Haibike, Lapierre, Winora, Ghost, Batavus, Sparta, Koga, Raleigh, Babboe, Carqon and the parts and accessories brand XLC, which are sold in five regions: Benelux, DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), SEU (Spain, France, Portugal), UK/Ireland and the Nordics. Accell Group sold the brands Diamondback, IZIP and Redline in 2019 as part of the divestment of the North American business.
Accell Group has conducted in-depth consumer research in all its selected regions and this serves as the foundation for our commercial growth strategy. We have used the findings to define clear target groups and consumer demands and to clearly define our brand positioning in our markets. In 2019, we devoted a great deal of attention to reallocating our marketing spend, with a sharp focus on growth-driving initiatives.
One example was the increased activation of our longstanding Lapierre sponsorship with professional cycling team Groupama-FDJ.
The marketing campaign reached over nine million people, tripling the number of unique visitors to the Lapierre website and made a major contribution to higher Lapierre sales. Another example is the Batavus activation in the Netherlands, which resulted in 10% sales growth and an increase in market share in the first half of 2019. Premium brand KOGA also garnered a great deal of international publicity through the launch of its revolutionary KOGA ’KINSEI’ track bike. The ’KINSEI’ will also be the Olympic track bike for the Dutch national track team at the 2020 Tokyo games. In 2019, we also laid the foundation for the continued growth of the world’s best known bicycle brand, Raleigh, with clear positioning that steers innovation, communication and distribution. In 2020, we will take this one step further with enhanced product design, a range of new products and targeted marketing initiatives. On top of this, for 2020 we are planning a number of marketing initiatives for various brands, such as a large-scale brand campaign for Haibike with new product innovations, battery upgrade activation for Batavus and influencer and ambassador activation with Lapierre, aimed at increasing the appeal of these brands beyond their traditional borders in 2020.
For each of the strategic brands, we have defined specific bike models that meet consumer needs in the best possible way and should result in higher rotation on the shop floor, which in turn will be good for both dealers and Accell Group. In addition, we have significantly reduced the number of models, colours and sizes (by up to 40% in some regions) and introduced product platforms that can be used by various brands across the regions. This has reduced complexity in the supply chain and production and will have a positive impact on availability and margins. We have used our innovation strategy and the new brand books to define new product design strategies and new innovation concepts, the first of which we will be launching in 2020.
In the cargo bike segment, we are seeing increasing demand for our Babboe brand. The launch of our new premium cargo brand, Carqon, has also been very well received judging by the high order intake at dealers.
We are transforming Accell Group from several standalone operating companies to regional marketing and sales units inspired by our new consumer-centric corporate strategy. As many of our brands have a long history of being primarily product and sales driven, it will take time and effort to build a truly consumer-centric culture right across our organisation. However, we believe that creating genuine customer empathy is about identifying a customer’s emotional needs and understanding the reasons behind those needs. The next step is to respond effectively and appropriately with the right innovations, designs, colours, pricing, customer care, warranties and new services. In 2020, we will continue to invest in data quality, data management systems and the implementation of technology to monitor, segment and profile customers. We will also start a leadership programme to cultivate our values and the right mindset among our employees.
Contribution to society
We firmly believe that people have the power to make the world a better place. Nothing leverages human power and ingenuity like cycling. Cycling contributes to a better life, better living conditions and a better environment for everyone. As one of the largest bicycle manufacturers in the world, our ambition - and our duty – is to contribute to a better world in everything we do, because we care about the planet and its people.
In 2019, we invested both time and money in various sustainability initiatives, including new, clean and safe mobility solutions. Last year, we invested over € 900,000 in the sponsorship of cycling tracks, the promotion of cycling and support for a number of social causes. This figure also includes 30% of our professional sports sponsorship. After all, creating sporting heroes encourages people to be more active and engage in sports themselves.
As a major stakeholder in the bicycle industry, we are engaged in an active dialogue and are affiliated with various national and international organisations, industry associations and initiatives that are specifically aimed at promoting cycling (health), safety and sustainable mobility. These include the World Federation of Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI), the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), the Cycling Industries Europe (CIE) and the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industries (CONEBI), which includes the RAI Association in the Netherlands, the Univelo in France and the Zweirat Industrie Verband in Germany. We also work closely with the Dutch Road Safety Council and the German road safety organisation Verkehrswacht. One example of our contribution to society at large is our support for World Bicycle Relief, which is a non-profit organisation that sets up local social workplaces for the production of bicycles in developing counties and donates these bicycles to people in need to improve their access to education, healthcare and work.