While at Port Macquarie for Ironman Australia, we had a look at Shimano’s latest toy, a mobile showcase of the latest and greatest in bike parts and accessories. Resplendent in “Shimano blue” and taking pride of place on Port Macquarie’s Town Green this big blue behemoth, topped with an al fresco social hub is Shimano’s way of displaying its entire range in a shop like setting so we can all get the “Shimano Experience”
I caught up with Shimano’s Brand Manager Toby Shingleton at Port Macquarie to ask him about his new baby.
Roxii: So we are here in Port Macquarie at the Shimano…, what’s it called Toby?
Toby: It’s called the “Shimano Experience Project” which is I suppose a long winded way of telling people that we have a new way of engaging with consumers. Traditionally at Shimano we have relied on a couple of mechanisms to show off new products, at Dealer Shows where we show new products to dealers, and we will continue to do that, we have expos at events that we attend throughout the year, and this is basically a controlled environment for us to show off our product s and it is also a bit of a showcase for how we would like our dealers to look and feel and how we would like our brand to presented within our core dealers. So it’s part of a new direction for Shimano in the way that we present product and this will be rolled out over our partner dealers over the next 12 months.
Roxii: I take it that as we are here at Ironman it is currently kitted out to suit a triathlon focus.
Toby: Yeah, so we have got a focus on triathlon products with our deeper wheel-sets, our clothing that is specific to triathlon and then tri road shoes and also normal road shoes that triathletes might use when training and it’s a modular trailer so we can set it up differently for different events.
Roxii: So you can kit it out to suit the event with mtb posters and wheels and stuff?
Toby: Yeah, we have some new mtb products coming through this year, XTR which has just been launched, so the rest of the year we are attending a lot of mtb events. We have just been at the Mtb World Cup in Cairns for a week, put all the mtb stuff away and then bring out all the tri specific stuff for this event.
Roxii: So is it a sales device, do you actually sell product here?
Toby: We don’t sell product, no, we see it as a link between the dealers and the consumers so we are in the middle, we are always very keen to find ways to support our dealers and this is part of that process of helping people get back into their local bike shop. So we showcase the products here, and give the consumers information, we can point out the features and they can see the full range. We have the full range of our shoes here, where in your local dealer you might not see the full range, they might only have a snapshot pf the range. So hopefully it gives people some inspiration to go into their dealer and seek out those products. Her in Port Macquarie we have good partner dealers, so we don’t want to roll into town and take any business away from them, so yeah we definitely have a policy away from selling products directly to the public.
Roxii: So on the tri front what’s hot right now?
Toby: There are always people looking for ways to make gains and that comes in a number of shapes and forms, obviously aerodynamics is a big focus, not just for us but for bike brands as well, so people are interested in looking at aerodynamic helmets or bottles, accessories that can improve their times. We are lucky, we have a picture of “Crowie” up on the wall and he is one of our athletes, he is using our shoes, our wheels, our bars so we can make a really clear link between the guys who are getting results and people can see those things in the Shimano Experience Project and maybe get inspired to use some of those things themselves.
Roxii: Shimano now with their other products, Pearl Izumi and PRO it’s like a complete suite of products?
Toby: Yeah that’s another key part of what we are doing here, bringing that association together. A lot of people don’t know that Pearl Izumi and PRO are part of the Shimano family of brands, so by having them all here together, and showing the new logo that people will start to see in our partner dealers with the three brands on there, people will be able to see that we cover pretty much everything you need to go riding; clothing, footwear, accessories and componentry, I think the only thing we don’t make is frames , we actually have a frame here on display with the Shimano logo on it and a lot of people have been asking if we are making frames now. But I think that’s one thing we won’t do is move into the market in competition with our biggest customers.
Roxii: Well it certainly looks the goods, it’s brand new and from inside you wouldn’t know it’s a shipping container.
Toby: Well, we were a bit worried with it coming back from Cairns, with the amount of rain we had there and the amount of mud that got dragged through here. But when we were designing it , it was a consideration that we would be out in all sorts of weather at all different events , we put marine carpet down so we can Gerni it out, it’s made to be on the road, its easily transportable and can get in and out of different locations, we can level it out, it has its own power supply and air conditioning so we can be self- sufficient. A lot of the events we go to might be out in a forest somewhere, even some triathlon and Ironman events can be away from the town centre. So we wanted something that could go into different environments but once you get inside it should feel like you are inside a Shimano dealer.
Roxii: And all capped off nicely with a café style viewing area on top.
Toby: Yeah, some of the events we have already been approached to use that as their commentary area, some mtb events we have used the deck out the front as the podium, so hopefully its really going to fit in and become a centrepiece to a lot of events, and become a bit of a representation of where the bike industry is at the moment. People in the towns we go to see these sorts of facilities, and see that this is what cyclist bring to the local area, how sophisticated and professional their marketing tools are, and hopefully that gets reflected in the local dealers and the public starts to take us a bit more seriously and start putting on more events and catering for races.
Roxii: Certainly more professional than a pop-up tent.
Toby: Yeah we have tried to set a high standard, and I’m sure some other brands will be looking to do something themselves, so we thought we would get in first and set the bar high, they don’t make a shipping container bigger than this, it’s a 40 footer, so maybe they will have to make a double decker to try and trump us.
So if you are out and about at a major cycling event, if the Shimano Experience Project is there, you won’t need to keep an eye out for it, you won’t miss it, but it is certainly worth a look to check out the latest and greatest.