Why you have (hypothetically) not bought our wheels, Part 2

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Last time I worked through the first half of a rather formidable list of why you (hypothetically) have not bought a set of our wheels yet. Here's the list again:

  1. Want ease of service provided by LBS
  2. Want to physically inspect wheels before purchase
  3. Want a lower price
  4. Want to feel line they are getting a special deal
  5. Are suspicious of our product quality
  6. Are suspicious of our product provenance 
  7. Doubt our longevity
  8. Believe we do not stand behind our product
  9. Do not have enough perceptible evidence that our product is high performance
  10. Do not see enough brand cache
  11. Do not like red hubs and/or silver spokes 
  12. Do not know our full product offerings
  13. Do not want to wait 2-3 weeks or 4-6 months
  14. Believe we are too inexpensive to be high quality
  15. Are not in the market currently
  16. Are pressured to buy team sponsor equipment
  17. Do not live within our geographic distribution
  18. Are waiting for an upcoming product from us
  19. Are in the process of saving enough money to buy from us or do not have enough money now
  20. Are giving credence to some industry misinformation they received

I'll see if I can shed some light on 11-20 this time using the same scoring scale: +1 if we've addressed this somehow, +.5 if we've done something to address but need to do more, 0 if we haven't made a dent here.

11. Do not like red hubs and/or silver spokes. So, the red hubs. Some people love them, some find them a complete non-starter. We understand that, but the ferver that some people have for black with black and black and black and black was wholly unexpected. We tried for a long time to resist it, but ultimately had to relent and now offer the Rail only with black spokes, and with your choice of either black November hubs, black White Industries T11s or a black PowerTap hub. (We still have some red November hubs left but are fully prepared to make them Christmas tree ornaments this year until the market returns to an appreciation of color in 2014.) For those of you who want something different than 98% of the market, there are custom builders happy to help you. Score: +1

12. Do not know our full product offerings. We're different from some other wheel companies in that we are also a bike company. For this reason, people see us through different lenses. Many people know us from the HOT BUNS cross bike, and may not realize we also sell handbuilt wheels. Others bought alloy wheels or carbon tubulars from us a few years ago and we haven't noticed we've progressed to a carbon clincher of our own design. So while we have a pretty sizable email list and about 6,000 Facebook fans, not everyone knows the same things about what we offer. We've tried to change that a bit by offering a lot less, simplifying our wheel offerings (on purpose) and running out of bikes to sell (sort of on purpose - we wanted to sell them but would like to have had more to sell). We're also close to a website redesign that better spotlights our streamlined offerings. Click the pic for a larger look. Score: +.5

13. Do not want to wait 2-3 weeks or 4-6 months. For most of our existence we have essentially been a custom wheel company, offering a choice of hubs and spokes across a number of different rims and drillings. At one point we had 11 rims to choose from, most in multiple drillings. That meant we would build everything to spec, since there was no way to guess what the next customer would want. We tried to communicate that custom wheels require some time, but the delay was causing prospective customers to look elsewhere. We know some people are perfectly willing to wait for a dream wheelset, but since all we offered was custom we weren't able to get wheelsets out to customers right away for an upcoming event. The Rail afforded us the opportunity to change that. We still offer it with 4 different hubs (red November, black November, Black WI and PowerTap) but the selection is manageable enough that we can build all the wheelsets for stock (except PT hubs, which sell less frequently and require a lot more expense to stock). Over the past few weeks we've reduced our average order-to-ship time on wheels to about a week. As for the 4-6 months wait, that refers more to frame pre-orders, which is a horse if a different color. We'll talk more about frames soon. Score: +1

14. Believe we are too inexpensive to be high quality. We could solve this by jacking up the price of Rails to $1800 and then giving everyone who asked a Bro Deal for $500 off, but we didn't and we won't. What we are doing is moving up the value curve. The Rail is more expensive than our open mold carbon clinchers. It costs us more to develop so it costs you more to buy. But we think that the extra expense is justified by an increase in performance, which is very different than having to pay twice as much because of added layers of distribution. Ultimately, we will never be as expensive as the brands available through shops, so the perception that our quality must necessarily be inferior may persist. We're OK with that, and expect many of you are too. Score: +.5

15. Are not in the market currently. How many of the 6000 people who follow us on Facebook are actually looking for new wheels? According to my math, less than 6000. The sales cycle is something all brands must deal with. How many of them try to bring people in market is through discounts and promotions that turn a considered purchase into an impulse. The only discounting we do is on clearance items we no longer offer, so don't expect a discount on the Rail anytime in the next couple years. You ought to be in the market for new wheels before then, yes? Score: 0

16. Are pressured to buy team sponsor equipment. We've heard this a lot - that people are interested in our wheels but are supposed to ride this brand or that because of sponsor obligations (which aren't obligations at all at the amateur level, so these usually mean that the racer doesn't want to hurt the feelings of the sponsorship coordinator who lined up a pro deal on some brand that's not as appealing to the rest of the squad). We don't sponsor teams but we do the next best thing - we put our logos above the clear coat so you can remove them and not piss off your sponsorship guy (as much). Score: +.5

17. Do not live within our geographic distribution. Before the Rail, we ceased shipping internationally and limited our sales to the US and Canada. But once the Rail launched we have lined up custom builders who service all of Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. It's not the whole world, but it's very near 100% of the world where we actually have demand. Score: +1

18. Are waiting for an upcoming product from us. Before we even launched the Rail 52 we started talking about possible plans for a shallower Rail. Once we begain testing the 52 though, we shelved those plans. The wheel is so rudely indifferent to crosswinds that we couldn't come up with many scenarios where the Rail 52 would not be the best choice. Sure there are some, but they do not render the Rail 52 inappropriate, only slightly less than ideal. So we've stopped talking about a Rail 3x (though we haven't stopped thinking about where one might fit into the market one day). Score: +.5

19. Are in the process of saving enough money to buy from us or do not have enough money now. This is one of those scenarios where we can't do much other than wish you well in your pursuit. So get out there and make more and/or spend less money. Score: 0

20. Are giving credence to some industry misinformation they received. A lot of misinformation exists on forum sites, and we've redoubled our efforts there to correct any statements about us that are somewhat undertruthed. The reason we do that is because we've found the forums can have a pretty profound impact on awareness and brand desire, and we would much rather people learn about us through word of mouth than a splashy ad campaign. We're a very candid brand so don't feel much need to control the conversations about us, or limit the information that gets disseminated. But we realize also that visibility in more popular media kicks off more of those word of mouth conversations, and lends more credence to people with a first hand experience with us. So look for us to expose ourselves in many more places this year. Score: +.5

Out of the possible 10 points available here, I have us scored at 5.5, for a total of 12 out of 20. Technically that's an F, but we grade ourselves on a bell curve and we're squarely in the middle - a solid C. 


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  • Mike on

    That's good to hear, Chad. We're figuring out how to prioritize upcoming products. A tubular Rail 52 is on the list; we just need to figure out where or when. Even though we're not at Interbike, what happens there will likely help inform our decision.AC, we love the CK hub but at 8-10 colors (it changes with the special releases – the current one is turquoise) we can't keep anything in stock and built. Almost all the WI hubs we've sold are black so we can just add that to our stock offering. Our custom wheelbuilers can build CK disc wheels for you, but not in Rails. CK R45 disc hubs only come in 28H or 32H, which aren't a drillings we currently offer.Mario, Wheelworks in NZ is shipping to your region. Check them out here: http://wheelworks.co.nz/rail-52/

  • Mario on

    Who & where in Malaysia/ Singapore? That's nearest to me….

  • AC on

    What happened to the King hub options?I'm looking for disc brake hubs myself.

  • Chad on

    #18. I would buy tubular Rails today if they existed.

  • Dave S. on

    You're on your way to a full SWOT analysis via blog with customer input. Another industry first! Who needs HBS anyway?



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