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    Note that the Executive Summary should be written af- ter completion of the Marketing Plan. Also, note that you must show references as per APA referencing. If in doubt as to how to do this talk to staff at WIN.  This marketing plan shows how to follow the template in the text Fig 2.2, page 65. This template must be used. FreeRiders, Inc. is one of the leading specialty mountain bike design and manufacturing firms in the world, and caters to professional cyclists, primarily in the mountain bike/extreme sport sub- category. Despite its reputation as a leader in competitive cycling, FreeRiders receives the majori- ty of its revenue through high-end mountain bike sales. Each FreeRiders bicycle is hand-made in the US in FreeRiders’ machine shop in

    Everett, Massachusetts, consistent with the FreeRiders mission to “

    produce high-quality custom, one of a kind bicycles in the USA… designed and manufactured by and for the professional road and extreme sport rider.” As a small company with fewer than twenty full-time employees and a host of freelance and part-time help, FreeRiders, Inc. is faced with strong competition in the category from larger bike manufacturers who, in recent years, have increased their advertising and PR budgets by an esti- mated seventy-five percent, and offset their costs by pushing production overseas. Economic pressures due to inflated production costs and competitors’ increased market share have lead FreeRiders to re-assess its goals for the future. This new strategic plan will unfold in several phases and include a 9-month-to-market new product line extension, a five year plan to increase revenue to between two and five million, and a long term plan to ensure the company’s viability ten years and beyond.


    Inc is a small, independently owned company founded in 1999. Of the fifteen full- time employees at the company’s headquarters, four key employees will be instrumental in carry- ing out this marketing plan. The key players include: Bryce Andersen III, a former American Cy- cling Team member, who retired from the sport in 1992 and worked as a usability and safety con- sultant in the cycling industry before joining FreeRiders as the National Sales Manager in 2001; Sandra O’Day, CFO; Noah McDougall, Marketing Manager; and Lisa Bavin, Production and De- sign Manager. A. The Marketing Environment 1. Competitive Forces. It is estimated that over 2000 companies worldwide manufacture bicycles and cycling related products for retail. Within that group, there are approximate- ly 100 different brands available at retail at any given time. While the majority of the bi-


    cycles sold at retail are for either transportation or recreation, only about six percent are sold in the pro/luxury category.

    2. Economic Forces. While rising fuel costs may suggest a rise in bicycle expenditures, on the whole, consumers looking to save on transportation costs generally purchase ‘com- fort’ bicycles at an average retail price of $350. Currently, FreeRiders’ models range from $1,500 up to $10,000.   Other economic forces include a shift in the high-end bicycle manufacturing industry toward outsourcing and overseas production, which thereby significantly decreases man- ufacturing costs even with lower price tags at retail.

    3. Political Forces. As trade regulations are lifted in developing economies, nations such as China are providing lucrative incentives to US and European manufacturing firms. Free- Riders’ firm commitment to handcrafted, locally produced bikes places them at a compet- itive disadvantage with regard to manufacturing overseas.   Conversely, organizations such as Bikes Belong (www.bikesbelong.org), BikesPAC, a political action committee, and the American Bikes Coalition are working to raise awareness of bicycling. Lobbyists have asked Congress for laws and grants to build and maintain bicycle paths and bike lanes on major roads to make biking a safe and economi- cal mode of transportation.

    4. Legal and Regulatory Forces. All FreeRiders’ bicycles and manufacturing facilities comply with EPA, OSHA and other government safety guidelines.

    There are no other regulatory or legal forces impacting FreeRiders’ operations at this time; however, steps must be taken to insulate the company from frivolous injury-related lawsuits as well as legitimate suits brought as a result of equipment failure. 5. Technological Forces. Advances in CAD software, ultra-light, durable bike frame materials such as titanium and newer materials such as carbon fiber have allowed all bi- cycle manufacturers to create a demand for faster, lighter, more durable and more aesthet- ically appealing products. It is predicted that as the demand for these materials increases, the cost to source these materials will decrease. 6. Sociocultural Forces. One potential competitive advantage for FreeRiders is their commitment to the “Hand-made in the USA" label. The affluent Baby-Boomer genera- tion favors products considered to be ‘hand-crafted’, ‘socially responsible’ or ‘green.’ These same values can be seen passed down to the children and grandchildren of the Boomer generation: consumers in the teen to early 40’s demographic. The net result is an increase in potential new customers for FreeRiders’ products. 


    Target Markets. FreeRiders’ primary target market is male, age 16-35, professional racer/extreme sport moun- tain biker. Secondary market includes affluent and athletic men, aged 20-45, who trend to- ward premium and socially responsible brands. Since 1999, FreeRiders has positioned itself as a leader in the highly competitive bicycle manufacturing industry through superior design and rigorous performance standards. The FreeRiders brand also ranks in the high 90th percentile for all brands in the consumer sporting goods category with regard to best practices in social and environmental responsibil- ity. In recent years, the FreeRiders secondary target market has expanded to include suburban, athletic women in the 35-45 demographic. While these new findings are promising for the company, they are currently only seen in the so-called “Blue

    State” regions of New England,

    California and the Pacific Northwest. At this time, FreeRiders’ bicycles are only available directly through the company and at select independent bicycle shops. C. Current Marketing Objectives and Performance. FreeRiders’ marketing strategy focuses primarily around events. These events serve two main functions: to raise brand awareness at the consumer level and to educate FreeRiders’ retailers on the features and benefits of the product. This strategy relies heavily on trade shows, athlete sponsorships, local cycling events and word of mouth. FreeRiders also focuses a large part of their PR efforts toward editorial coverage in trade and consumer cycling publications. FreeRiders became cash-positive in 2004 with sales at an all-time high of 1.3 million. In the years since, the company has seen slow, but steady decline in revenue. While a small por- tion of this decline can be attributed to a decrease in consumer spending nationwide and in- creased production and transportation costs, overall spending in the category nearly doubled in the years since. One of the biggest challenges the company faces is from FreeRiders’ largest competitor, VMS. VMS is currently leading the market due to high profile athlete sponsorships and consumer price. III. SWOT ANALYSIS A. Strengths 


    As a small company, FreeRiders is able to communicate quickly and effectively, in person. An on-site manufacturing facility ensures not only a high level of quality control, but enables the company to react quickly, resulting in the fastest to-market in the catego- ry.

    3. Since the company was founded in 1999, FreeRiders has seen no employee turnover. Employing freelance help on an as-needed basis has helped keep labor costs low, ensur- ing better wages for all.

    4. FreeRiders values loyalty and maintaining strong relationships with its suppliers. This ensures continuity in quality, faster turn-around times and preferential pricing.

    5. A strong program of educational and promotional materials for its resellers provides excellent profit opportunities for FreeRiders and its retail partners. 6. 68% of FreeRiders’ sales can be attributed to word of mouth, suggesting not only customer satisfaction, but also loyalty.

    B. Weaknesses

    1. With over 2000 bicycle and parts manufacturers world-wide, over 100 brands to choose from, and approximately 4800 specialty bike shops, not to mention the powerful ‘big box’ retailers in the US alone, the bicycle market is fully saturated.

    2. Consumers purchasing bicycles for recreational use spend on average $350.00-$500.00 for a front suspension mountain or ‘comfort’ street bike. FreeRiders’ lowest priced full suspension mountain bicycle retails at $1,500.

    3. A highly specialized product line limits FreeRiders’ consumer base.

    4. FreeRiders’ commitment to small, independent resellers limits its ability to reach a wider audience through the ‘big box’ and chain sporting goods retailers. 5. FreeRiders’ commitment to local manufacturing and locally sourced materials as opposed to outsourcing and going overseas results in higher production costs. 6. Maintaining a small supplier base can pose problems if a supplier goes out of business or cannot deliver on promises. C. Opportunities 1. The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act—A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) has authorized $4 billion in new federal spending on bike paths 


    and trails in every state in the US. This program is expected to be complete by 2009, pro- viding potential long-term demand.

    2. As public awareness of issues such as global warming and reducing carbon emissions grows and alternative fuel and hybrid automobiles become more mainstream, cycling may become more appealing as a mode of transportation for many urban and suburban dwellers.

    3. A backlash against outsourcing and offshoring may place more value on a product made in the USA.

    4. As the Baby-Boomer generation retires, they will have more free time for recreation. Increased interest in fitness as well as a preference for premium products at all price points (Starbucks, BMWs, Sub-Zero refrigerators, organic groceries) creates a demand for higher-end recreational and fitness ‘toys’.

    5. The children and grandchildren of the Boomer generation, despite having lower average incomes than their parents, share the same values of the Boomers: premium products, quality, and social responsibility. These values are reflected in higher spending on premi- um or luxury goods. 6. FreeRiders’ potential for growth via increased athlete sponsorships, product placement and increased co-branding opportunities is on the rise. The proliferation of cable and On- Demand television networks, specifically in the lifestyle, sports and extreme sports cate- gories, will provide more media opportunities not only to raise awareness of the sport, but offer valuable ‘eyeballs’ at televised cycling and extreme sport events as well as outdoor living programs. D. Threat

    1. While FreeRiders bikes can be purchased directly from its website, it relies on the retailers to sell consumers on the features that differentiate FreeRiders from the competi- tion. As consumers trend more toward online shopping, the lack of personal selling op- portunities could be detrimental to the business. 2. Giant mega-retailers such as Wal-Mart have put increased pressure on suppliers to cut wholesale prices so they can offer the lowest price to consumer. As a result, consumers have become accustomed to artificially deflated prices. Many of these wholesalers must sacrifice quality or risk their bottom lines due to these deflationary forces. 

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