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Using Market Research to Get an Edge: a Bike Cooperative Story

When you hear the words market research, your first thoughts may be of big corporations and expensive reports. Perhaps you’ve heard the term “white paper” thrown around vaguely or maybe your bank has told you to get some data to back up your planned business expansion.

In this article: you’ll learn how data insights can benefit your bike shop and get a preview of The Bike Cooperative’s most recent market research study.

What Is Market Research, Exactly?

Market research is finding out more about your industry to understand customer behavior and consumer trends. It’s learning what your consumers want, who they are, and what drives their purchasing decisions.

In a nutshell, market research answers the following questions:

  1. Who are your customers?

  2. What are their buying patterns?

  3. Why do they buy?

  4. What will make them buy more?

Not just big companies need market research

Small and local businesses benefit in a BIG way

All businesses can learn from and benefit from market research, and it’s not always out of your price range. Below, we’ll talk through the ‘cooperative’ approach to market research that The Bike Cooperative uses as well as a few additional tactics. 

The ‘Why’ of market research

Market research gives businesses an outside view of their market. This data is invaluable for your business as you operate, make decisions, and plan for the future.

For bicycle retailers, the industry is constantly changing. From customer attitudes shifting to new products creating new opportunities, it pays to be on top of the latest trends. To that end, good market research will give you the information to confidently manage and improve your store every season rather than relying on anecodotal evidence and the status-quo. 

You need data to drive your decision making.

In addition to insights into your specific business, market research can help you find out more about broad changes in your industry like:

  • Technology trends
  • Increases or decreases in competition
  • Changes in consumer habits
  • Changes in market size or makeup
  • Outside threats
  • Changes to socio-economic behavior
How the co-op does it

Market Research & The Bike Cooperative

Learn about the cooperative’s most recent study

Pictured: The spacious floor of Richardson Bike Mart, a member with multiple locations throughout Texas. The Bike Cooperative’s most recent data project was conducted to give members like RBM the type of insights that will transform the way they respond to changes in consumer habits, organize their floor, market to customers, and more…

The ‘how’ and ‘why’

By coming together as a cooperative of bike shops, The Bike Cooperative has created the scale to develop and access a number of member solutions like hiring tools, loyalty programs, in-store financing and – you guessed it – market research.

This “cooperative” approach to market research means that members of TBC gain access to insights typically only accessible by the biggest brands in the world.

By partnering with lab42, a research firm that’s also conducted market research for companies like Pepsico and Target, our most recent data project focused on two key areas: the demographics and buying habits of IBD customers versus mass market bike owners, and the rapidly growing potential with stationary bikes.

What we learned

The research for The Bike Cooperative’s recent study was hands-on from the perspective of our co-op members – because the results would be influencing decisions in member stores across the country.

Our advisory council worked on the questions we wanted to ask, then lab42 took them out to a panel of over 1,000 randomly selected consumers who either own or ride a bike. The resulting 32-page report has been a revelation on many fronts

Lindsay Gaskins
President of The Bike Cooperative

Shedding light on opportunities & trends

In a recent report by Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN), TBC’s latest study revealed that “in broad terms, mass bike buyers tend to be younger, 51% female vs. 60% male for IBD buyers, less affluent, more ethnically diverse (14% minority IBD buyers vs. 27% mass market) and more likely to live in the south. 

Unsurprisingly, the report pointed out that 84% of IBD buyers visited a shop in the past year, while only 40% of mass buyers did. However, one of the most actionable observations for retailers remains why those customers visited the IBD. 

The No. 1 reason mass bike owners visit IBDs is for repair and maintenance. That’s your one touch point with these customers – and many owners want to turn them away! We encourage finding positive ways to engage with them instead. Overall, it’s clear from the research that there’s more opportunity with mass buyers than most IBDs recognize,

But that’s not all…

The most popular shop service requested by mass-market bike owners is repair and maintenance classes, with 64% saying it has appeal.  When combined with the survey result showing 52% of mass buyers do their own maintenance compared to only 39% of IBD bike owners who do the same – Gaskins and The Bike Cooperative see a clear opportunity. 

With a rising trend from brands like Peloton and Flywheel, the survey also highlights new opportunity with stationary bike owners indicating that crossover between “indoor” and “outdoor” riders is strong. 

78% of stationary riders own a bike, and 54% of stationary owners visited a shop. With this in mind, Gaskins adds “Many of our members are considering displaying indoor bikes to take advantage of that crossover”.

Join the co-op for access to data insights, marketing tools, and more

If you want to go far, go together. That’s the cooperative difference. 
(and we’d love to tell you more about it)

Become a Member
DIY market research

How can small businesses perform market research independently?

Market research is usually expensive. Some giant companies spend tens of thousands of dollars on reports that they never use. This is hard to imagine, but it’s true! 

As a small business, you may be wondering how exactly you should participate in gathering data. There are a few ways to do this at no cost or a low cost.

  1. Determine what it is that you need to know
  2. Prioritize the top data needs and focus on those.
  3. Explore less expensive options or consider doing it yourself.
  4. Consider aligning with other small businesses to collectively gather relevant data in an inexpensive way.

How to Perform Market Research With Your Small Team

Now that we’re in the internet age, a number of resources are available that haven’t always been around. Through a little extra work and maybe a few millennial interns you’ll be able to compile data in no time.

Online Surveys

Use online surveys and questionnaires to ask consumers questions about your product offering, demographics, purchasing decisions, and more. There are many options – an easy one is Google Forms. For the best data, make the survey anonymous.

How do you get the word out about the survey? Use the email list you’ve been building! Get started by tapping into the basics of email marketing, with: Email Marketing Basics for the Busy Business Owner 

Focus Groups

Host focus groups of customers or potential customers to collect in-person feedback about product line, service offering, pricing, brand perception, and more. This is more time-intensive than an online survey, but may yield some positive interactions and opportunities for helpful feedback.


Consider doing a few in-depth interviews with consumers or potential customers. Be sure to collect a diverse group of responses!

Pull Information from Social Media

This one would be especially good for an intern. Look at social media to gather data. It’s sometimes surprising what people already share on their own. Consider a Facebook poll or other informal ways of collecting data.

There’s a reason the world’s biggest companies spend big on market research. While Members of The Bike Cooperative have the opportunity to work together, share insights, and collectively source the information needed to make this process simpler – a little extra time and effort can get you closer to the data that makes a difference.

Should you become a member?

Learn all about The Bike Cooperative, our members, and how we give bike retailers an edge

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