Wheel Buyers Survey Results 3: Kicking the tires

We have website analytics that purport to tell us how long it was between someone's first visit to the site and when they made a purchase. But whenever someone browses anonymously or deletes cookies the data is compromised, so we're often told that people just showed up today and on impulse bought a $1536 wheelset. That may be true on occasion (and we wish it were true far more than occasionally), but we wanted to use the survey to get a better sense of what the purchase journey looks like. So we asked:

We actually have more near-impulse buyers than we expected, with 1 in 10 of you deciding to pull the trigger within a week. Keep in mind that this is all survey respondents, not necessarily our customers or custom wheelset buyers. When you cut this data by looking at people who intend to buy a factory built wheelset (e.g. Zipp 303, Mavic Comete), the 1-week or less shoppers drop to only 8%, but those who shopped for 2-3 weeks jumped to 46%. 22% of factory wheelset shoppers are kicking the tires for 2 months or more, compared to 29% of custom shoppers.

So our hypothesis that custom wheelset shoppers are in market longer is supported by our data. Before the survey, Dave and I speculated that the real number was something like 45-60 days of active shopping before buying. Dave has quite a few electronic paper trails to bear that out, including many that span months between the initial inquiry and the actual purchase. In reality, the average duration is not representative of any actual person's shopping habits. 56% pull the trigger in a month or less, while almost 1 in 5 are kicking the tires for 3 months or more.

So we were right in a way that actually didn't help us at all. Now we realize that some folks are ready to buy quickly, and our job is to improve their ability to self-serve and compare on the site. And there's another cohort turning options over for a really long time. Our job with them is probably not to try and accelerate but to lean into their process, and give them the time they need to be confident in their choice.

Or is it? We'd love to hear about how long you shop, what compels you to smash that buy now button and what's holding you back. Let us know your process in the comments.


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  • Patrick Carlin on

    I hate having to buy something quickly and under-pressure because it’s broken and without it I can’t ride. That’s why for almost all my expensive bike-related purchases I fall into the take a long time to shop, compare and think it about category.

  • Weiwen on

    I can’t remember my answer for this question, but when I bought a set of AR50s, I think the idea had been percolating in my head for a while that I wanted an aero wheel that I could take on or off road. Earlier in the year, I’d decided the time was probably not this year. Then in June, I made a bit of an impulse decision, figuring that I might as well spend that stimulus check.

  • Scott on

    I have a perfectly good wheelset but am wondering if I’m missing out by not running wider rims. Also curious how much aero benefit I’d notice with a carbon rim and bladed spokes. Holding off on purchasing to see if shimano changes their road free hub and if a tubeless standard is finally released.

  • Roberto Quinones on

    Scott and Michael Tordoff must be reading my mind. Both of them share my thoughts on this. And I’m in the group of “mediocre wheelset with less urgency”.

  • Michael Tordoff on

    Surely, some people are looking to replace a broken wheelset and thus need new wheels fast—or they can’t ride; others are upgrading a functional but mediocre wheelset so they have less urgency—they have something to ride on while they take the time to shop and compare.



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