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SMS INC. and Bicycle Association release initial results from UK Cycling Market Data Service

SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. and The Bicycle Association (BA) release the first results from the UK cycling market data service.

The findings reveal that sales for the first 6 months of 2019 are down -4.8% in volume against 2018. What is more promising is that value sales are broadly flat, at only -0.5% down, suggesting that the industry is successfully finding ways of growing the average transaction and product value.

The results are drawn from over 650 cycling doors across the UK and include totals for over 263,000 individual SKUs covering an estimated 35% of the market by value. The target is 70% market coverage by the end of the first year. The figures cover the full array of cycling equipment and services: bikes; e-bikes; parts, accessories and clothing; micro-mobility (scooters etc); services, repair & labour.

To generate the findings, participating retailers share results down to model level privately and securely with SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC, who aggregate and verify the results on behalf of the BA. Historic data has been collected back to January 2018.

Steve Garidis, Executive Director of the Bicycle Association, notes “We are delighted with the active support and encouragement we have had from so many brands, distributors and retailers of all sizes over the last 12 months. Today’s results are an important and exciting first step in revolutionising the cycling market for those supporters as well as the wider industry. Better data gives us more accurate and independent figures to build a stronger case for cycling at local and national level. We look forward to releasing the full, anonymised data set to all those who have supported us so far in the near future, and at the same time, we are welcoming more data providers and subscribers into the service every day, to help provide more and more robust findings.”

John Bushell, Managing Director of SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC., added “We are proud to have worked closely with the Bicycle Association to deliver this valuable advance for the UK cycling trade. We are in the final stages of checking the data at category, channel and regional level, and once that is done, we look forward to supporting service users to help them get the most benefit from the findings.”

The next step is the release of granular data to those data providers and buyers who have supported the service to launch. One of the key features of the service is the ability for users to easily benchmark their own performance against the market and their peers enabling the identification of previously unknown areas of underperformance and therefore opportunity. This analysis will be available within the interactive on-line dashboard that has been developed to provide a cutting-edge reporting tool for service users.

Simon Irons, Associate Director at the Bicycle Association who is leading the market data initiative, said, “We are delighted with the interest shown so far and encourage those who have not yet signed up to register here to access more detailed insights

SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. announces major new cycling initiative with Bicycle Association

SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. is delighted to announce a new collaboration with the Bicycle Association of Great Britain to deliver monthly retail data to the UK cycling industry.

The Bicycle Association of Great Britain today announced the soft-launch of its market data service, offering UK sales data covering bikes, parts, accessories, and services for the first time.  Insight from the data will underpin the industry’s new advocacy programme to grow cycling whilst also supporting and strengthening UK bike businesses for the road ahead.

Users will be able to compare their own data to market and sector averages down to category, sub-category, and even SKU level in some areas.  Data can also be filtered by price band, by channel, by region or retailer-type.

BA Exec Director Steve Garidis said:

“Customers, trading conditions, and market trends in cycling have never evolved faster. And the cycling industry has never been more diverse and competitive. Cycling is changing and growing: for sport, for leisure, for health and for transport.  Now our industry needs accurate market data more than ever – to underpin our advocacy work, and to strengthen UK cycling businesses.

That’s why the Bicycle Association has developed this service – on a not-for-profit basis – designed to be as low cost and accessible as possible.”

The total cost, underwritten by the Association on behalf of the industry, will be recouped through BA members subscribing to the service, with the more members subscribing, the lower the costs.  It will be free to bike shops with a turnover of under £5m.  The BA has spent 8 months building the support and infrastructure needed to offer the service.  It has recruited by competitive tender a specialist data partner, SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC, who will produce a high quality, detailed monthly reporting service available via a dynamic on-line dashboard.  SMS INC. will handle all the raw data on behalf of the Association and ensure with a wide range of measures that all data will remain anonymous, accurate, and reliable.

Non-BA members will also be able to access a selection of the data as part of bespoke reports.

BA Associate Director, Simon Irons, who was previously Group Cycling Director at Halfords and has led the project, said:

“We have developed the service taking the best of what we have seen from other sectors like UK Grocery, where market data has long been established as an essential bench-marking tool to help businesses improve their sales and profitability performance, but also most importantly by working closely with a number of our members including independent bike shops, brands and large multi-store retailers so we can ensure that the Service is both high quality and completely tailored to their needs.”

The service already has the support of leading retailers, brands, and distributors within BA membership, and the soft-launch period, January to March, will be used to recruit further afield.  The service will be free during the soft launch period and anyone who signs up to the reporting service prior to 31st March will get a lifetime free upgrade to the silver level version of the dashboard.  The Association is targeting 70% coverage of the market by the end of the first year.

Edward Willis, who is leading the SMS INC. team working on the project, commented

“We are delighted to be working with the Bicycle Association on a project that has the potential to provide a leap forwards for cycling in the UK. We fully support the BA’s aims and look forward to working closely with them, as well as with a range of exceptional manufacturers, distributors and retailers, on delivering a service that the cycling industry can be proud of.”

Please click on  for more detail and to sign up to the service.

To understand more about how the market data service could benefit your business, or for additional enquiries about SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC.’s services, please contact

For any further media enquiries relating to the Cycling Market Data Service, please contact Simon Irons on 07776 238365 or via email at


Why Does The Cycling Industry Need Research? Elementary My Dear Watson

SMS INC.’s  Edward Willis featured in Bike Biz‘s February Issue, discussing the value of Cycling Research. The article is reproduced below. To talk to us about how research could help you, please get in touch. 

Why Does The Cycling Industry Need Research? Elementary My Dear Watson


Cycling Research - Bike Biz

SMS INC. features in the February 2018 edition of Bike Biz


“It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data”. These are not my words, although as head of cycling at research consultancy SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. it is hard to disagree. In fact, the phrase belongs to Arthur Conan Doyle’s enigmatic genius, Sherlock Holmes.


Sherlock’s stance is as applicable to the cycling industry as it is to any other. Your business may not be solving crimes, but you are solving problems and providing solutions for customers looking to cycle further, faster, safer and more comfortably.


Who are those purchasers? Why do they come to you rather than your competitor? What are the factors that make a wavering customer buy rather than walk away? Is your marketing or your storefront or your staff telling the story you want potential buyer to hear? Does your product range match up to what your customers want to buy?


If you can answer all of these questions, then you are in a minority. Even then, it is equally important to understand who your customers are not. Are there people who are put off by your business? What would you need to offer to make yourself stand out, or appear more welcoming?


At SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC., we believe that the reasons for gathering and harnessing insight are as numerous as they are compelling. We have seen our research applied to drive real change and growth at sports brands, retailers, federations and events, and we are committed to working with the cycling industry to offer the same benefits.


As the bicycle industry evolves, as retailers struggle and participation plateaus, it is critical to maximise your understanding of your business. Don’t make Sherlock’s capital mistake of theorising without data, for that can very quickly become terminal to the survival of a business. On the other hand, good research can lead to good theorising, helping you to improve on any weaknesses and tell more people about the best bits of your business.


SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. provides the cycling industry with SMART DATA and sports insight consultancy on sports participation, buying behaviour, brand image and lifestyle. In recent years, SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC., has worked with cycling businesses on projects including participation analysis, shipment research, the international cycling consumer behaviour study, retailer satisfaction studies and mystery shopping.


Please contact to discuss how SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. may be able to help.

SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. agrees exclusive global deal with Klood Radar

SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. (SMS INC.) has officially signed a contract with MMRI to have exclusivity of their new intelligence platform, Klood Radar. The global launch of SPORTS RADAR is set to make a big impact in the sporting industry.

Klood Radar is an online and digital intelligence platform, which has the ability to capture data on a particular brand, product or topic from around the world. Utilising the latest digital identification technology, SPORTS RADAR will bring topic and sentiment analysis – supported by SMS INC. sports insight – to help understand the conversations and viewpoints within the sports market. A revolutionary service, Klood Radar was a finalist in the Best Data Solution category at the Market Research Society’s Operations Awards 2017. With exclusive use of this software, SPORTS RADAR gives SMS INC. an opportunity to service Federations, sports brands, sports events, athletes and those investing in sport.

John Bushell, Managing Director of SMS INC. said “When we were shown the power of Klood Radar, we realised that this has significant and relevant value to the sports industry allowing monitoring and tracking from sports fans, from athletes and participants, from sports events and also amongst the sports media and official sports and global news channels. It will enable the sports industry to be fully aware of the sentiment and issues facing them, and enable strategic decisions to ensure that viewpoints can be understood and managed.”

Established for over 30 years, Sports Marketing Surveys is a market research business specialising in sports and leisure. SMS INC. provides SMART data, analysis and insight for leading sports equipment manufacturers, sports federations, major sporting events, specialty retailers and venue operators.
MMRI has over 30 years’ experience as a media market research agency.  Identifying a gap in the market for a platform which would provide much more intelligent insight, Klood Radar is able to analyse and process digital data and conversations providing strategic understanding on spontaneous social responses. With SMS INC. insight thereby enabling organisations to make better decisions.

SMS INC. and MMRI have co-operated closely to develop SPORTS RADAR and are now launching this globally to the sports industry. To see findings from SPORTS RADAR and download a free report please click here: SMS INC_Sports RADAR_GolfSixes.

For more information on the software, visit


SMS INC. utilised their Sports Radar platform to collect, code and analyse commentary around the Golf Sixes tournament in May at the Centurion Club.

Coding the data using the following criteria enabled us to look far beyond the noise being generated to understand sentiment in more detail and the key conclusions.

For more information, please leave a few details and download the full report here

For more information, please leave a few details and download the full report here

Contact Richard Payne:


This month, SMS INC.’s  Ed Willis featured in Cycling Industry News‘s Q4 trade journal, discussing selling bikes to men and women; and the way to go about it. Please get in contact if you have any questions about the article, or the research discussed.

Selling to men and women

One of the classic dilemmas facing any sporting retailer is working out how to tailor its offering to its client base. In particular, many retailers struggle with working out how to sell different products to men and women, without marginalising one or the other. As a google employee recently found out to his cost, overstating the difference between men and women can be disastrous. For a bike retailer though, is there also a risk in understating, or at least failing to provide for, the needs of different sectors of the population.

Perhaps the biggest difference between men and women is in how they wish to use their bikes, or, to be more specific, who they wish to cycle with. A high proportion of the men we surveyed preferred to cycle alone. By contrast, women were much more likely to say that they cycle specifically in order to spend time with a partner or with their children. This was true across multiple markets. However, and this is the crucial part, that does not mean that bike shops should be making assumptions. For manufacturers, it is important to know the overall picture in order to make sure that product ranges reflect the wants and needs of cyclists. Your shop on the other hand, may attract a very different crowd from the national average.

In fact, for many cycling shops there are major risks in differentiating too overtly between men and women. The age of ‘pink it and shrink it’ selling is mercifully over. Push too far with hackneyed tactics and female customers may find themselves becoming suspicious of over-targeted sales, fearing perhaps that they are either paying over the odds, or being sold lower spec products. In many ways, the cycling industry is a victim of the wider retail industry’s past transgressions here. Traditionally so many women’s products are based on men’s with just a colour change and a higher price, known as the ‘pink tax’, to differentiate them from the original. Self-defeating and downright unnecessarily gendered products like Bic’s female pens have spawned scepticism of women’s products as well as internet mockery (if you have never seen them, the amazon reviews of Bic for her pens are almost an art gallery in their own right).

In this climate, female bike buyers may instantly switch off if they fear that a product has been retrofitted for women rather than developed with them in mind. It was telling that despite the pronounced differences in who men and women prefer to ride with, the same research showed little difference between men and women when it comes to interest in competing in events. Importantly the results suggest that although just under two thirds of females invest in women’s specific models, those women who class themselves as competitive are much more likely to buy products designed specifically for women than those who commute by bike.

Selling to women on the basis of aesthetics and assuming that a sales process can skirt over performance, will not work in the long term. This is why brands like Liv have invested heavily in portraying the brand not just as colourful bikes for girls but as bikes for daring, empowered and free-spirited women. Working with manufacturers’ themes, and harnessing them with your own shop’s identify can become a powerful combination. In this way, shops stocking women’s specific equipment may have much to gain, provided that they can identify the right audiences for these products and successfully communicate the benefits for the cyclists in question.

For committed female cyclists a female specific product may well be the right performance choice, but selling it will require store staff to be able to talk about the differences, whether these are focused on touch point tweaks or are more wholesale. If your staff feel that a men’s bike might inhibit a female cyclist, then don’t be afraid to tell her about the benefits to her of thinner handlebars, or less tailored saddles. At the same time if they feel that a certain customer would be better served by a male frame which is available at a better price, then telling a client so can only build loyalty to your shop. Getting this right means engaging with differences and similarities between your male and female clients right the way through the retail process. When making stock decisions, decide if a women’s product is going to deliver for your customers, and if the price is fair given its spec. Every stocking decision is either building or damaging your brand. Likewise when considering a store layout, think about what your floorplan says about your store’s priorities and values. If you test different store layouts or promotions, keep track of how this affects sales, and measure what the impact has been year on year.

As shops test different ideas, it is important to take the chance to build up a picture of customers as they come to your shop. Make notes on conversations you have had with customers. Over time patterns may emerge that reveal something about your particular clientele that you hadn’t realised.

Really, this process is not about whether cyclists are male or female, but about how people want to ride their bikes. The joy of the saddle is something that should unite men and women, old and young, rich and poor. Understanding your customer and tailoring your sales process accordingly, is a much better solution than making assumptions.


Click on the photo to enlarge




As well as undertaking multiple research projects at The Open this year, SMS INC. was busy co-hosting the 33rd annual Golf Industry Lunch at Royal Birkdale.

For a ninth year, SMS INC. partnered up with the British Golf Industry Association (BGIA) and the Golf Foundation to host the Golf Industry Lunch, which supports the Golf Foundation’s initiative HSBC GolfRoots. The Lunch is a major event in the golf industry’s calendar, and is attended by key figures from all corners of the game . The lunch was attended by 145 of the industry’s most influential people.

Attending the lunch: Richard Payne, Brendan Pyle, Stephen Lewis, Ciara Morgan, Philip Morley and John Bushell

The Lunch takes place annually and is an opportunity for experts to discuss the state of the golf industry, considering where new perspectives and expansions will be able to grow the game. A wide range of industry representatives attend and this year SMS INC’s John Bushell and Richard Payne, The BGIA’s Philip Morley and Brendan Pyle of the Golf Foundation each gave a speech.

We will firstly introduce you to Richard’s opening speech which will then lead on to John’s speech which, as usual, was packed full of interesting and insightful sporting facts and figures, as well as some SMART DATA courtesy of SMS INC.’s research over the past 12 months:


Good afternoon Ladies and gentlemen, in a change to the scheduled programme, the honour of welcoming you all to the Open Industry Lunch on behalf of SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. has fallen to me this year.

Now please don’t panic, as John will be up to regale you with as many sporting facts as humanly possible shortly, but he now believes that his speech is in such demand that he insisted on a warm-up act!

SO, welcome to Royal Birkdale for the 146th Open Championship, the 10th to be hosted here on this beautiful Southport Links and incidentally also my 10th Open working for SMS – with the 2008 Open won here by Padraig Harrington being the first Championship and first Open lunch that I attended.

This is the eighth lunch hosted by SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. and the BGIA on behalf of HSBC Golf Roots; and in my first speech it gives me great pleasure to continue the tradition of once again welcoming Paul Jepson and Ian Peacock who are both attending their 32nd Sports Marketing Surveys Open lunch. This is a tradition and a ‘run’ that we are delighted continues.

A lot has happened over the past 12 months since we were all together at Troon – from golf making its comeback at the Olympic Games; to Sergio finally making his major breakthrough at the Masters;  to Rafa Nadal winning his 10th Roland Garros French Open; and John Bushell almost completing his first half marathon in Brighton! Unfortunately for John, the race organisers re-measured the route after the race and found out the course was an 8 iron short of the required distance!

There have also been several developments and exciting projects conducted at SMS INC. ranging from global studies being conducted for the IGF on the Olympics, for the R&A and other leading golf organisations; to in-depth investigation into what the value of BRANDS mean to consumers; new audience and consumer segmentation work for manufacturers and events including The Open; and, as Brendon mentioned earlier, an incredibly interesting exploration into what children and parents believe make the perfect golf club for juniors.

We have also expanded our services and invested in a new geo-engagement tech start-up – SPORTS ON-POINT – to deliver proximity triggered communication and research to fans and customers based on their location – think Minority Report for the sports industry!

So as you can see, life at SMS INC. is certainly not dull at the moment and may I take this opportunity to thank you all for your support and BUSINESS and we look forward to working with you on new and exciting projects over the next 12 months.

OK – I’ve stalled for long enough now, so thank you for not booing me in my first Open Lunch speech and without further ado – I’ll hand you over to John to deliver your numbers overdose for the day……..…

Richard Payne


Thank you, Richard – well, there are 23,072 yards in a half marathon, and so being short by 150 yards means I completed 99.994% of the total distance. In my mind – done!

Are you ready for a short run-through of numbers in sport? This is a shortened version of the speech – but a full transcript is available with all numbers for those who contact me!

There will be a lot of numbers – so I hope someone is counting……..….


So, here we are back at THE OPEN – this time the 146th OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP, which has lots to live up to after the amazing “Duel of The “SONS” – Stenson and Mickelson – last year at Royal Troon.

An epic match play scenario that had the spectators and the TV audiences hooked ended with a joint-record last round at THE OPEN of 8 under par by Henrik with him birdieing four out of five or his last holes, and also establishing an OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP record of 20 under par. His final round 63 also equals the lowest final round score to win any Major ever.

We have since had further European Major success in male golf with Sergio’s victory at The Masters in his 74th Major Championship – and this all happening on what would have been Seve’s 60th birthday.


So, has this success been translated into golfing growth and strong golfing performance in Great Britain? 2017 has started well. An  early look at Rounds Played as at the end of June 2017 for the half year is showing growth of 7.1% – with the lead region being the south up 12.7% – the good weather has got people golfing – and this is the second best half-year average over the last 5 years.

However, we have seen the total golfing numbers continue to fall, in 2016 dropping to below 3 Million which is down from a high of 4.1M golfers in 2007.


As I like numbers, I asked HowDidiDo to have a look at qualifying competitions and rounds played during the first half of 2017, and these are up 8.9% and 10.3% respectively. What was also interesting, is that with the better weather, and the more rounds played, there has also been a 12% increase in Holes-in-One achieved in competition – almost 1,375 – and scores improved against the Standard Scratch Score by almost 1.3 shots or 17% better. Good weather not only leads to more rounds – it leads to better golf, and better golf leads to more FUN!


At Royal Troon, we congratulated Antony Scanlon and Peter Dawson as we looked forward to the ‘momentous’ return of Golf to the Olympics after 112 years in exile. Perhaps the most important golfing medal was the bronze won by Shanshan Feng of China in the ladies event.

Since, Rio, Shanshan Feng has been granted a personal audience with President Xi Jinping – and the Chinese Olympic Committee has subsequently announced that golf will be one of their eight key focus sports for future Olympics. Whilst Chinese surnames promise to make future speeches immeasurably harder………..a commitment to golf by the world’s most populous country can only be good for the game.


Before we leave golf, the 146th OPEN Championship will see our annual equipment census of all players. This includes the identification of all equipment used by the players from their shoes, shirt and their cap, to obviously their driver, fairways, hybrids, irons, wedges and putters.

Since 1995, and after last week’s AAM Scottish Open, we will have attended 921 events on the European Tour or at THE OPEN. We will have been through almost 129,150 golf bags, and hence identifying almost 1.8 million clubs.

John Whyte – who manages our team running the equipment census – although sadly is not in attendance for this lunch as he is out validating bags as we speak – has been doing the European Tour census since the 5th of July 2006 – or for 4,028 days.

He has attended 418 events, has taken 917 flights – so has flown every 4.4 days and has completed 1,514,004 miles which is the equivalent of flying 61 times around the world, or just over 3 times to the moon and back. That is some commitment to the cause! Thank you, John and Team.

As we leave golf, one final fact for Birkdale – and for your dinner table sports facts – the 1965 Open Championship here was the only Open between 1963 and 1980 – or 18 Open’s – where Jack Nicklaus finished outside the top six. He came 12th.


So, let’s look at other sports – and accomplishments – since we last gathered at THE OPEN. It has beena momentous year – one of those “where were you moments” was the heroics of Maddie Hinch in the gold medal success of Team GB’s women’s Olympic Hockey team. It was certainly a pleasant surprise to see GB winning a penalty shoot-out.


The 2016 Olympics was the most successful for TEAM GB ever – finishing second in the medal table ahead of China and with 35% or 130 of the 366 athletes going to the games coming back with a medal, including 100% of the 15 strong track-cycling team.

Of the 25 sports that Team GB competed in – medals were achieved in 19 of them, a strike rate of 75%. – and Team GB finished with at least one gold in 15 sports.


For those who love their Rugby and the romanticism of the British and Irish Lions, then the recent tour to New Zealand is special. A drawn test series also keeps the relevance of The Lions alive and roaring.

What you may not know is that the total number of minutes that the Lions held the lead over the All Blacks in the three Test Series on this Tour was only 3 minutes – but luckily, it was a very important 3 minutes at the end of the second Test.

It was an epic Tour – but perhaps, there is one record that may never be beaten. The person representing The LIONS with the longest name – and I really do not know why I have set myself this challenge:

Makovina Wanangarua I Whanga Nui-Atara Vunipola, aka Mako.

6 names and 42 characters……..I prefer Mako.


What an amazing tennis year. It has been the year of Andy Murray as World Number 1 – but perhaps a significant change has been the return to the old order.

We saw this at the Australian Open with Roger Federer’s victory in the final for the Australian Open against Rafa Nadal, and also the all Williams final in the Ladies events – Serena won this battle of the sisters and the Australian Open for the 7th time, and to set an Open Era record 23rd Grand Slam victories – and she did this whilst 6 or 7 weeks pregnant!

Then we were enthralled by Rafa Nadal’s victory at Roland Garros in June 2017 for his 10th victory in The French Open – in his 7 matches he did not lose a single set, and only lost 34 games – the second best Grand Slam performance in history.

We then had the Wimbledon Finals – Venus at 37 and holding 7 Grand Slams against Garbine Murguruza on Saturday, and then I am certain that some of you were listening to Roger Federer winning in his 11th Wimbledon Final against Marin Cilic whilst heading up to Birkdale – there are too many firsts but it was his 19th Major and 8th Wimbledon Title – a record in the Open era – and like Rafa In Paris he also did not lose a set for the whole Championships.

For SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC., Wimbledon was our 33rd consecutive year of the full equipment census identifying the racquets, shoes, apparel and equipment of 610 players. Wilson was the #1. Racquet at The Championships (overtaking Babolat who were co leaders and then leaders in 2015 and 2016 respectively). Nike led the shoe count – and there was a strong showing for asics in shoes, and Babolat, Head and Yonex in racquets – with the latter showing the greatest increase in racquets in play up 17 racquets on last year. A new brand appearing in tennis shoes was Mizuno – who had 57 players on the SW19 grass.

One fact that puts tennis in perspective. Local Premier League club Everton has just spent £50M on Jordan Pickford and Michael Keane – with the same money, you could purchase all of the Tennis balls shipped in Europe in 2016.


For many years, we have heard that golf has been losing out to cycling, as golfers move to lycra and road bikes. Well, the cycling market is not having it all its own way. Cycling has no reliable industry figures, but anecdotally sales in units are down, we are seeing IBD (Independent Bike Dealers) closing; industry consolidation – Wiggle has purchased Chain Reaction Cycles – the two leading online retailers. The industry is concerned.

Cycling does not have the same level of insight and research that is available in golf. We are trying to change this – however, as the golf industry, we cannot use the excuse that it is the growth of cycling that is creating issues for golf.

THE FINAL HOLE – 473 yards par 4.

Let’s Finish. An old theme. Golf is not broken – there are so many positive news and stories and things to focus on: FEMALE GOLF, FAMILY GOLF, FAST GOLF, FLEXIBLE GOLF,– and the FUN of GOLF; and as the industry, we need to go out and talk up the sport, the benefits, the heroes.

Talking of heroes and stars of the sport, I am going to leave the last words to one golfer who has passed on since we last gathered at Royal Troon.

On the 25th September 2016, shortly after his 87th birthday, we lost Arnold Daniel Palmer – the OPEN Champion winner here in 1961 and famous for the 6 iron on the 15th, so I would like to leave the last words to him.

John Bushell – Managing Director at SMS Inc.

“Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening – and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.”

Thank you very much, and I wish you all a very successful 146th OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP here at Royal Birkdale, and also at the Senior Open Championship next week in Wales at Royal Porthcawl, and the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns in August – and for golf for you all in 2017 to be FUN!”





This month SMS INC.’s Ed Willis wrote a piece for Cycling Industry News on the cycling market, and who the industry should be targeting. You can see the magazine in full here, and the article can be found below.

UK cycling figures stable according to SMS INC. research

At SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC., we like questions and answers, and arguably the question “who is cycling?” has never been more important. Our participation research from 2016 reveals that cycling participation has risen by less than half a percent between 2014 and 2016. Whilst these figures are far from negative – in fact, SMS INC.’s latest figures show that cycling, the third most popular sport in the UK, has gained some ground on running since the research was last conducted in 2014 – they do support the impression that business is flat. This is hardly a good metaphor for an industry all about two wheels.

It also represents a strategic challenge to businesses used to more dramatic growth over previous years.

2016 was a turbulent year for many retailers in the industry, and in part this is explained by this slowing growth rate at a grass roots level. Without throngs of new cyclists, brands and retailers are finding themselves in more direct competition for the attentions of a limited pool of participants. For individual businesses this generates a need to understand how to tell better stories about their own brands, but also to consider what is working for others. Indeed, for the industry as a whole there are areas where collaboration, and not just competition, is the order of the day, in particular when it comes to understanding how to engage the next generation of cyclists.

There is certainly more that can be done to increase female participation in cycling. Our research calculates that 64% of UK cyclists are male, with avid and regular riders much more likely than occasional cyclists to be men. In the same vein, our cycling frequency analysis also exposes another potential area for growth. Young adults are much less represented among avid and regular cyclists than they are among occasional riders, and yet in many cases these are people who should be turning to bikes multiple times a week for transport at university or to commute to their first jobs. In fact although comparatively strong in terms of its number of regular cyclists, the proportion of UK cyclists who describe themselves as “avid” (cycling at least once a week or more), stacks up unfavourably against many other countries in the sample.

It is therefore vital to understand how existing cyclists could be encouraged to spend more time on their saddles. Our UK figures highlight the fact that only 23% of UK riders spend as much time as they would like on exercise. For the remaining three quarters of cyclists, there are myriad limiting factors, including family and work commitments, but also areas like weather, motivation and other hobbies and interests.

The challenge for brands, retailers and federations is to encourage that 77% to spend more time cycling, at the same time as appealing to new demographics and beginners. 7.2m adults in the UK are now estimated to cycle at least four times a year, and for all the heroics of Jason and Laura Kenny, Sarah Storey et al, no new Olympics is likely to lead to a boom in cycling participation to rival what was seen after 2008 and 2012. Arguably new growth in bottom-line participation is most likely to come from people seeing the bike as a means of affordable, green, healthy transport.

For many involved in the industry, this can mean walking a treacherous tightrope. There is a need to invest in new technology to encourage existing riders to spend more money. However, it is important that this doesn’t translate into an exclusive focus on stocking and marketing high end, high performance bikes as this may risk alienating potential new cyclists who find high price points and technical jargon intimidating.

There are all sorts of ways to engage new audiences. For example, promotions around local events, both amateur and professional, can offer excellent opportunities for retailers to engage with customers at all ends of the experience spectrum. Family cycling could also be much more widely promoted as an active, sociable weekend activity, something that parents can look forward to doing with their children, and children can also go and do with friends. Meanwhile train and tube strikes, rising rail fares, and longer commutes by road present an opportunity for cycling to sell itself as an affordable, healthy alternative.

E-bikes are a prime example of new technology that can appeal to both new and existing cyclists. In fact our detailed consumer findings show genuine interest in trialling and even purchasing e-bikes in the near future. However, if poorly marketed, they also risk adding additional layers of technical detail to an already complicated purchase. It is one thing to extol an e-bike’s gadgetry to customers who enjoy talking about torque sensors, battery specifications and wattage, but it is more important to identify what level of detail customers are looking for as they walk into a shop or access a website. For someone trading a car journey for a bike commute, range and portability might well be more appealing. Likewise for one of the many occasional cyclists identified in our participation research, a bike’s reliability, comfort and price could prove more influential.

The key to all of these issues, both for the industry at a macro level and for bike shops at a micro level, is to understand the cyclist. Ultimately a proactive retailer forging great relationships with customers can be every bit as influential as infrastructure and product design in encouraging that 77% to cycle more often, or in encouraging new types of cyclists to take their first ride.

SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC (SMS INC)., offers detailed reports on cycling participation in 21 countries as well as in-depth consumer studies in the UK, France, USA and Germany. SMS INC is a full-service market research company serving the sport and leisure industry. Please contact Edward Willis at for more information.


WISLEY, UNITED KINGDOM – January 2017 Leading market research firm SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. announces new results from its ground-breaking participation study across 27 sports in 21 countries worldwide.

The research began in 2014-15 over a two-year cycle, with the 2016 figures offering up to date information on the state of play in the UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Poland Australia, USA, Japan and India. 2016’s figures therefore also represent a chance to assess changes over the course of the last two years, bringing trend based information to this vital area of the industry.

“This research gives brands invaluable data and detailed insight into the key question of ‘who is doing my sport’. Understanding participation is critical for demand forecasting, strategic planning and identification of potential areas for growth across many key sports. This is the first time comparative findings on this scale have been available on an international basis. ,” said John Bushell, Managing Director, SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC.

The findings are essential to brands in understanding the international consumer market in their sports. Meanwhile, federations and governing bodies can explore the starting age and play frequency of current participants while also monitoring the sports competing for players’ time, and targeting new demographics for potential growth.

The robust research, which surveys 3,000 households per country, explores the rates of sports participation in unprecedented depth,  showing detailed demographic splits, as well as tracking motivations and other play habits.

A full report costs £650 per country per sport, although discounts are available for multiple sports/countries.

SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC., is a full-service market research agency with offices in the UK and USA. It offers syndicated and bespoke research programmes in a range of sports, working with brands, retailers, venues, events, federations and governing bodies.

For more information please contact Sarah Cusition ( or Edward Willis ( )
+44 (0) 1932 345 539

Editor’s note:  SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. undertook the fieldwork with a leading international research panel provider in the last two year and have completed with SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS USA. over 250,000 interviews in more than 20 markets covering 100 sports on the playing of sport. This programme has been done with the support of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the US TIA (Tennis Industry Association) as part of a wider programme into equipment usage and participation.

SMS INC. reveals new data on cycling consumers

In the wake of the ground-breaking International Consumer Behaviour Programme released earlier this year, leading independent research company SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. has revealed plans to offer abridged reports to individual sectors within the cycling industry. Specifically, SMS INC will now offer the following reports:


Each report will include the profile of cyclists and overall cycling habits, as well as putting the spotlight on the relevant sector, including details of brand share, spend and point of purchase.

SMS INC.’s Sports Business Manager for cycling, Edward Willis, explains the new reports: “We have had excellent feedback from clients across the industry who are already benefitting from this research. With many in the cycling industry coming to terms with slowing sales, this research can help manufacturers, retailers, federations and event organisers make better commercial decisions and establish how they can best appeal to different groups of cyclists.”

The International Cycling Consumer Programme was run in the UK, France, Germany and the USA and features robust samples of core cyclists within each market. To participate, respondents had to have spent at least £400 on their main bike, and have cycled 12 times in the six months prior to fieldwork. Male and female cyclists were recruited in equal proportion to enable close analysis of differences between male and female participants. As well as gender, results can be split by multiple factors, including age, spend, cycling type and motivation for cycling.

The programme will be repeated in Q4 2016 and so there is an opportunity for participating brands to have an input on the questions and topics covered, enabling them to tailor the research to their needs.

Report prices range from £1,000-£2,000 per country. The full report, which offers a comprehensive overview of all areas of the cycling market, is available for £3,500 per country. For full details of topics included within each new report, or to discuss any other cycling research needs, please contact Edward Willis – or call the Sports Marketing Surveys Inc. office on 01932 345539.