Get on yer bike!

The sun is (finally) shining and, as if my magic, the roads are filling up with MAMILs… also known as ‘Middle Aged Men In Lycra’. What happened to cycling in UK to cause this sudden growth in MAMILs on our streets? From a niche sport pursued by a few die-hard loyalists cycling has now become a mainstream activity. This is not solely down to one thing or person – whether that’s crowded roads and the Bike To Work schemes, Bradley Wiggins & The Tour de France or even the London Olympics. These are all facets of something that has a deeper and more emotionally significant and powerful root… Cycling became more fun, enjoyable (and emotionally rewarding) because of gadgets and gizmos! The creation of this kit offered a flashy chance to show off, gave something to lust after and own… In short, cycling became ‘Golf on Wheels!’

The boom of golf in the 1980s started before farmers started converting land to golf courses – that was a response to consumer’s behavior. The explosion in numbers of golfers was driven, in a large part, by the proliferation of products that promised gains and improvements – oversized clubs to ‘correct’ a poor swing, flashy new electric golf trolleys, super new flight enhanced balls and (of course) bright exciting clothing. The average quality of golf for the mainstream golfer did not change – but the value of kit did! In much the same way the speeds of the new cyclists are not noticeably faster than their forebears.

Both occupations sold what in marketing parlance has been described as ‘the sizzle not the sausage’. They focused on how the sport made you feel – envious of the chap with the better gear, successful and stylish for having the latest kit yourself etc. They sold the aspiration and enjoyment of belonging, owning and displaying. The sport – golf or cycling – was the vehicle for these emotional pleasures – which are related to the human condition and what drives us.

So, what point do we learn from this in the areas in which we work? In any category it is essential to understand the base underlying motivations for heavy users and light users. The heavy users show you what the destination for loyalty should be and the light users reveal what the points of enticement and attraction should be. In short, these are the start and end of the journey to lifetime loyalty.

Understand these and you can move your product and category from niche to more mainstream. You can sell the sizzle – the emotions – and not just the sausage – the basic foodstuff.

Put another way – Get on yer bike!

Our Sensory Space research methodology and technology deliver insights for our clients across their (and their competitors’) marketing mix. We have helped clients with product development (such as adding extra and extended freshness) and used the insights to express this through their communications, connecting them with their audiences in a truly insightful and compelling way. The result – more sales. Simply put we help brands make more money.

To find out more about how we can help your business, why not give our team a call on +44 (0) 1133 365 365 or email us on