Concrete Carbon has identified two distinct market segments, individual consumers and distributors. Concrete Carbon has been servicing individual consumers now for the last year and will be adding distributors as customers. It will be quite easy to differentiate between the two groups of customers. Individual sales will be derived via the Internet, and sales to distributors will be accomplished through participation at the industry trade shows.
4.1 Market Segmentation
Concrete Carbon has segmented the market into two customers:
Individuals consumers: products will be sold direct to the consumer via the website. This is the customer group that Concrete Carbon has been serving now for the last year. The typical customer is someone who rides a couple of thousand of miles a year, either with a team or a club. The retail value of their bicycle is at least $1,800. The average household income is >$40,000. 64% have a college education. This group enjoys cycling and spends a decent amount of their disposable income on their passion.
Distributors: these are the middle layer of the distribution system. They sell to the independent bicycle retailer. The main distributors are Quality, Seattle Bike Supply, and Riteway.
4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy
Concrete Carbon's strategy for segmentation is fairly straight forward. Individuals will be targeted through a sales campaign on the website. The individual customers are important because they are the ones served up until now. Additionally, the profit margin is higher (although quantity is less) since there is no distribution layer. In this case Concrete Carbon will service the existing customer group.
Distributor customers will be targeted trough deals and relationships set up through industry trade shows. While the margins are lower for this customer group, distributors are able to purchase far greater quantity of products. They also assist in the selling of the product to the independent bicycle retailers, who then help sell it to the end consumer.
4.3 Industry Analysis
The bicycle part industry is generally a three layered system (manufacturer, distributor, retailer). Some manufacturers sell directly to the consumer, but most do not. Within the last four years the industry has seen more direct marketing manufacturers, to a large degree a function of the operating efficiencies of the Internet.
4.3.1 Competition and Buying Patterns
There are three main competitors and a few smaller manufacturers who are competitors.
LP Composites (WA): this company manufactures seatposts, handlebars, and bar ends. LP's products are decent but nothing special. They look cool, but are not super light and are not innovative in terms of manufacturing. This is small company with a regional sales base.
U.S.E. (England): this company is known primarily for their suspension seatposts, but have just come out with a new ultra light carbon fiber seat post. The unit is quite light but the clamping head, while light, is difficult to adjust.
Easton (CA): Easton is a huge sport conglomerate that is a manufacturer of aluminium and now carbon fiber tubes for bicycle frames and components. Additionally, they make baseball bats, tent poles, shafts for golf clubs and hockey stick shafts, etc. Relating to the bicycle industry, they have been manufacturing frame materials for a while and only within the last few years have they made bicycle components. They have a good reputation, however, they recently have gotten some bad press due to a catastrophic failure of one of their seatposts in a race being used by a popular athlete.
For many consumers, their buying pattern is the purchase of a carbon fiber seatpost based on the material of the post instead of differentiation between the different brands.