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June 21, 2023

Brompton Bikes – the power of a niche brand

Hey there. It’s Michael from amazing FBA welcome to mindset moments, a little bite-sized chunks of thoughts and hopefully wisdom about business and life from my wanderings around London, and other parts of Europe. Today we are talking about the power of a niche brand: Brompton.

Hello folks, I am out here with a brand creation story, and not mine, but I’m a customer in this case, or a would be customer. And I just wanted to reflect on, when you really, really create a fantastic product and brand combined, how strongly people will… make an effort or go out of their way to get it.

And that’s when you’ve really got a strong brand. So I’m going out of my way right now to get something. I’m walking through a strange part of town. It’s freezing cold here in London, as often is. And, I need a bicycle and I live in a relatively modest sized flat in London. It’s not as small as the one we used to be in, but space is always at a premium.

And so I’m off shopping for the obvious solution for a cyclist in London. With space at a premium, there’s one word that springs to mind, and that is Brompton.

The origins of this niche brand

That is a very famous brand, created in the 1970s by a Londoner. I think in response to the fact that he needed a solution to his clean needs, which is to say, a fold up bike that was good quality and actually was…

Something that would fold up small and would be there for something you could take on public transport, on the tube, on the train to use what we call subway, if you’re American, or the underground formally or other options like that. And which would also be a quality bike that was safe and sturdy and would cope with being folded and unfolded many, many times and would survive the process intact.

Now. it’s a very nice product, and that’s another thing I wanted to say, like, if, if somebody hates cycling and they’re going to hate Bromptons because they’ve never heard of them or they just think they’re a complete waste of time or something, somebody who doesn’t have a particular need for a bike that you can fold up and put on public transport, Or indeed into a car in a small space would find it a complete waste of time, and in many cities that would be the case. But if you’re in London or for that matter somewhere like New York, I guess, I don’t know if they’re famous in New York, it’s the obvious answer. And so the feeling is appealing to a very particular need, in this case, in quite a geographically specific situation, shall we say. I’m in London specifically, but also New York or anywhere like that, I guess would work.

Having a genuinely better niche product

And then the other thing, of course, is this. So, there’s the person and the need, but then it’s having a product that’s good.

my wife at one point a few years ago, bought a couple of, just on a whim. I came home and she found she’d bought two folding bikes because she sensed the need for it.

Now, first of all, she never cycles having had an nasty accident here years ago, and London’s pretty scary. She cyclist, I could see why she doesn’t, but kind of odd that she bought two. And then I remember, that’s what my wife does, . She bargain hunts and she buys more than one. Okay, now a lot of people shot that way online.

That’s not the sort of brand I’m talking about because when I used it, it felt, so insecure and it was so inconsistent in the way it behaved that I just felt I didn’t trust it, I thought it would kill me. And by the way, that might well have been true. So I didn’t use it at all. and we’ve given one of them away for free, despite the fact it was a hundred and fifty pounds or each or something.

A hundred and twenty pounds, a hundred and fifty bucks, whatever, or euros. So, that was a kind of false economy for me, and I’m now considering buying a Brompton, which is going to be at least a thousand pounds, probably by the time I’ve got all the features I want on it, maybe fifteen hundred pounds or two thousand dollars, which is, by the way, About 15 times more money than I’ve ever spent on a bike in my life.

I tend to buy second hand, cheap bikes. Not because I haven’t got the money to spend on a bike, but because I assume it’s going to get stolen in London, and I’m probably right. So if I buy a Brompton, I’m going to look after it with great care and love.

The marketing power of a great niche product

But here’s the thing let’s think about this from a marketing perspective.So first of all, I believe in the product quality having seen them I’ve even heard about them. I’ve never used one until last Saturday and yet I’m going back to the same bike shop where I have now experienced the build quality, which is just as good as they said by the way And so I want to reflect on this.

Number one, strong enough brand that I’m willing to go trekking across town, even though I hate shopping in person. That’s why I like online shopping. Number two, a strong enough good build that it’s actually as good as people say it is in their marketing, which has got to be quite rare. Let’s face it.

Number three, because of that, I’m willing to go out of the way, rearrange my day in order to go and see this product, because I think it might solve my problem. I really believe that it will solve my problem. I believe it’s exactly what I need. And I believe it’s very well made. And for that I’m willing to pay a vastly bigger premium than alternatives out there, because I don’t believe they’re going to solve the problem. I believe they might actively be dangerous.

The importance of a fanatical niche market

So, if you’re a product developer, or for that matter, if you have a service, the same basic marketing thing applies, which is, number one, do you have a very specific customer with a particular need in mind? And we all… I don’t know the theory of this, if you’ve been around in the last couple of minutes, but we could all do the reply now, I simply could in my work everywhere really, when I’ve worked as a pianist, you know, I kind of will be all things to all men, and, or all people, all humans, if that’s the politically correct thing to say.

And That’s not the way to earn good money or indeed to develop a very precise skill set. so that’s the first question. Hard question. And the second thing is, hand on heart, honest to god truth. Are you really building a truly excellent product if you really want to get premium pricing? Now if you sell in a marketplace like Amazon or somewhere like that, you should be realistic about the amount of number of units you’re going to sell.

If you are actually, you know, selling something genuinely premium, you may have some education marketing to go. You might be looking at your own direct to consumer side, or you might have to have a mixture of things in place. But this is an example of, of a super powerful mix of really solving a precise customer need, amazing product design and build quality.

And just a solid brand built over years and years of work.

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Michael Veazey


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