Blog

Brit Chris Froome wins Tour de France, but French and Germans still lead the peleton for online search for cycling kit

Since the incredible Olympic year of 2012, when Bradley Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France, the profile of British road cycling has increased massively. Bringing a string of British successes out of the velodrome and onto the roads made the pass time instantly more accessible – 200,000 more people were said to be cycling per week in 2012 as a result. But with Chris Froome becoming the eighth cyclist to hold three or more Tour de France general classification wins, data appears to show that British cycling e-commerce may not have quite the same stamina.

UK cycling searches went down a third in 2015

1

Jan 2012                          Jan 2013                          Jan 2014                  Jan 2015                        Jan 2016

 

The Google Trends graph above shows the search trend for the term ‘cycling jerseys’. Immediately it is clear that there is a lack of a spike in July 2015, despite a upwards movement every prior year. This is all the more surprising as it was the year that Chris Froome won his second Tour de France (becoming the first British cyclist to do so), so we could reasonably expect the trend to have continued.

2

Jan 2012                          Jan 2013                          Jan 2014                  Jan 2015                        Jan 2016

Taking a look at searches for  ‘road bike’ above, the fall-off is less pronounced, but it is nonetheless present: previous years place the July point at 90+ by Google’s trend metric, in 2015 it was only 78.

What we appear to be seeing is that interest in products relating to road cycling fell off last year – especially products that reflect the more hardcore road-cyclist looking for specialist gear such as aerodynamic jerseys.

There are of course other factors at play influencing the trends: 2015’s summer was considered to be cooler and wetter than normal, and it’s easy to see how this could dampen enthusiasm for outdoor pursuits. However, this is giving the British summers of 2012 to 2014 altogether too much credit: 2012’s was declared “the wettest in 100 years”, after all.

The UK’s 2016 cycling market hasn’t started well

What of 2016? The available data for July is partial, so it is best to avoid drawing snap conclusions. However, looking at the data for the preceding months, things don’t look great:

 

3

 

In the case of “cycling jersey”, June was trending significantly below previous years and May was also some-way off the trend in 2013-14. ‘Road bike’ is a little less clear cut – May was roughly on trend, but June saw a dramatic drop-off. While it remains to be seen whether Chris Froome’s triumph will energise the market, early indications are of another year that isn’t quite at peak fitness.

British triumphs don’t discourage French and German markets

If British cycling success caused a sudden surge in interest in cycling related goods, have markets where there has been no Tour de France success seen any negative effects? Taking Germany and France as examples (neither have officially had a Tour de France winner in the last 19 years), online search patterns have been healthy for the last five years – in some cases, the trend appears to be upwards.

Radtrikot (cycling jersey search trends)

3

Jan 2012                          Jan 2013                          Jan 2014                  Jan 2015                        Jan 2016

Renrad (road bike)

4

Jan 2012                          Jan 2013                          Jan 2014                  Jan 2015                        Jan 2016

Let’s look at Germany first: the graphs above depict search for ‘radtrikot’ (top: ‘cycling jersey’) and ‘rennrad’ (bottom: ‘road bike’). In the first graph, we can see a very neat, consistent summer peak (note the 2014’s peak is in June rather than July) that it appears will be repeated in 2016. The second graph is less pleasingly shaped, but peaks are never lower than 86 and troughs are actually getting shallower, suggesting an overall upward trend.

Maillot cyclisme (cycling jersey)

5

Jan 2012                          Jan 2013                          Jan 2014                  Jan 2015                        Jan 2016

Velo de route (road bike)

6

Jan 2012                          Jan 2013                          Jan 2014                  Jan 2015                        Jan 2016

Above are the equivalent graphs in the French market, for the terms ‘maillot cyclisme’ (‘cycling jersey’) ‘Velo de route’ (‘road bike’). Both graphs actually show increasing market demand – this is a subtle float upwards for the first graph (though 2014 is notable for having two separate, significant peaks) and a more obvious shift of peaks and troughs in the second.

 

8

 

Considering the relative average search volumes for UK, German and French markets; an upward trend for France is good news as the market hasn’t yet fulfilled its potential. The home of cycling’s most famous event could surely stand to grow to rival the potential of the UK. And even if Germany is maintaining the status quo, the higher average monthly search there presents an interesting opportunity for British cycling brands considering their options in the face of a potential lull in public enthusiasm for the sport in the UK.