The case of the Belgian Cycling Factory

What 2020 thought us about cobblestones, hybrid models and the speed of change for the years to come.

In Belgium we eat cobblestones for breakfast and climb hills for lunch. The whole world knows that.

Belgian Cycling Factory (BCF) is Belgium’s largest  cycling company in this region, and is the proud owner of multiple iconic brands like Ridley,  Eddy Merckx bikes, MyCorsa, Forza wheels and much more.

And if you’re on of their customers, chances are that you’ve got more than one bike. 
 

Now, what happened in March 2020?  The big hill just became a Himalaya  

BCF sells most of its bikes through a network of dealers and bike shops across Europe. In fact, 90% of their revenue comes from transactions in dealer locations. 

However, dealers have historically lacked access to data that would enable them to better understand their customers and accurately anticipate market demand for premium bikes in their area. As a result, dealers took a very conservative approach to stock their showrooms, resulting in missed opportunities to sell more bikes. 

Often potential customers went to competitor shops with greater and more diverse inventory in stock. Additionally, BCF dealers lacked digital marketing skills and resources to drive more foot traffic and sales.

And then, we all know what hit us beginning 2020. Dealers were forced to shutter their doors, creating extreme urgency for BCF to accelerate their digital transformation, which included their relationships with consumers and dealers alike. Knowing there were millions of Euro in stock at the beginning of the season. 

 

BC BCF GA logo

The unexpected outcome...Marketing became a service. And has an impact on forecast accuracy. Go figure…. 

Realizing dealers lacked the data, skills, and resources to target and deliver the right marketing messaging to the right people and drive more sales in their region, BCF in partnership with GrowthAgent, created a new “marketing as a service” offering to dealers. This new data-driven marketing service is powered by the first-party data BCF collects and unifies in BlueConic across its channels and family of brands.

As part of this service, BCF also uses BlueConic to activate the data by targeting customers in dealer regions with highly personalized experiences across marketing channels that will lead to an increase in traffic and sales to those dealers.

 

ACCESS TO UNIFIED PROFILE DATA

The data unified in BlueConic profiles is the foundation of BCF’s dealer marketing service. In the first seven months of using BlueConic, BCF created one million individual profiles of their prospects, customers, and dealers. 

BCF profiles capture various customer attributes that are stored at an individual level. In addition to unique identifying information such as first/last name and serial number for registered bikes, BCF also captures other key attributes like location, bike preferences, past purchases, and consent for marketing under GDPR.

As a high-end brand, BCF doesn’t offer discounts in exchange for customer data and consent for marketing. Instead, they offer their customers an extended warranty when they register their bikes, as well as high-end experiences such as bike fittings and wind tunnels.

MULTI-DIMENSIONAL SEGMENTS FOR MARKETING Using the rich profile data accessible in BlueConic, BCF can build and activate multi-dimensional segments in a matter of minutes – something that would not have been possible before. BCF uses BlueConic to build segments based on a combination of profile attributes, such as location, browsing behaviors, terrain preferences (e.g. road, gravel, mountain biking), frame preferences, color preferences, price point, and dealers shopped in the past.

 

CROSS-CHANNEL ACTIVATION 

Once segments are built, BCF uses BlueConic connections to send those segments directly to other marketing platforms for immediate activation across channels. For example, BCF sends segments to Facebook and Instagram to geo target customers with relevant ads for a local dealer that carries the type of bikes they are interested in. Additionally, BCF uses BlueConic dialogues to personalize experiences for visitors across BCF’s many websites.

 

We saw positive ROI from BlueConic in one month. Not only does it help us  better understand our customers and  improve marketing, but it also  provides the insights we need to show  dealers how to sell more bikes.

MICHEL LENAERTS, BELGIAN CYCLING FACTORY

 

DIRECT-TO-CONSUMER (DTC) LAUNCH

COVID-19 caused BCF’s dealers to abruptly close their doors. In an effort to salvage bike sales, BCF needed to quickly adapt. They decided to build a new ecommerce web-shop in just one week to help their dealers drive sales online – an entirely new sales channel for the dealers

Now, when BCF customers visit the new ecommerce web-shop, they are asked to enter their location, and then BCF matches them with a local dealer for purchases.

However, building a new web-shop in one week was only half the battle. It was equally important for BCF to start collecting customer data from this new channel, as well as activate that data in their dealer marketing programs to minimize the negative impact of COVID-19 on bike sales.

BlueConic flexed to BCF’s new DTC engagement model, giving BCF the marketing agility it needed to adapt quickly. BCF started collecting and unifying customer data from the new web-shop into BlueConic profiles right away. From there, BCF could enhance existing segments and build new segments, as well as immediately activate marketing across channels based on this new data.

 

NEW CUSTOMER INSIGHTS REVEALED

Historically, dealers didn’t know a lot about BCF customers (or potential customers). Specifically, they didn’t know who was in market to buy a bike in their area, resulting in an understocking of bikes in their showrooms relative to market demand.

BCF was able to use the data they were capturing in BlueConic to gain new insights about market demand in each dealer’s region. Using this data as evidence, they were able to demonstrate greater demand for BCF bikes and convince dealers to add more bikes to their showrooms at a given time because they would sell quickly. As a result, dealers that were carrying 2-3 BCF bikes at a time increased their inventory to 7-8 bikes.

Additionally, conventional wisdom across BCF and local dealers was that medium frame bikes were the most popular – leading many dealers to stock more medium frame bikes than small or large frame bikes.

However, analyzing the unified data in BlueConic profiles revealed that there was actually greater demand for small frame bikes than medium frames. This insight led to testing more small bike inventory at dealer locations. Now, those dealers are selling more small bikes.

“Belgian Cycling Factory dealers are generating 10% to 15% more revenue after gaining new customer insights that led them to increase showroom inventory to meet market demand for premium bikes in their region.”

 

PROVEN RESULTS 

To demonstrate the value of its new marketing service for dealers, BCF tested a new program for a limited edition bike with a custom paint job. BCF only built 100 limited edition bikes and made it available to dealers all over Europe to stock in their showrooms.

The objective of the program was to show dealers that BCF’s new data-driven dealer marketing service, powered by BlueConic, could help them sell more bikes quickly. BCF promoted the bike across marketing channels, including BCF websites, their new ecommerce web-shop, and Facebook and Instagram ads.

The program was a huge success. Dealers sold out all 100 limited edition bikes within one week. 

 

This concept can be translated to many other industries or use cases. If you want to find out what impact you can have implementing a Customer Data Platform, and how to calculate the ROI - feel free to book a 30-minute meeting below. We gladly brainstorm wild ideas.