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17/12/2010 // INFO 2 Comments

Cycling is about me

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What is the prime motivation for you to get out on a bike?That’s the question which researchers at the University of the West of England (UWE) have been asking cyclists as they try to find better ways of using marketing to broaden the appeal of cycling.

UWE’s Bristol Social Marketing Centre has been exploring image themes and the socio-cultural landscape of cycling in its “The image of cycling in Britain” research project to look at why people decide against choosing to cycle for utility trips like travelling to work and going shopping.

As research team member Fiona Spotswood explains: “Much work has already been done to highlight the health, environmental and time saving benefits associated with cycling but when presented as key elements in marketing campaigns to encourage cycling – these benefits can sometimes come across as being a bit worthy and preachy. We were keen to explore what people enjoy about cycling. Our project sought to get to the heart of the prime motivations that inspire people to get on their bikes.”

The research used projective and enabling research techniques such as asking respondents to draw pictures to demonstrate how they felt when they were on a bike.

Key perceptions of cycling were found to be very positive. People associate the act of cycling with freedom, of it being fun, it bringing back memories of childhood as well as being a pause in the stresses of daily life allowing a space for ‘me time’. Respondents also enjoyed the pure physical pleasure of cycling along, being alive and being in charge of their own propulsion.

The research team have used these findings to create a creative tool kit for a marketing communications campaign that reflects the feelings discovered from the findings.

The research team will now use this toolkit by testing a set of creative concepts that local media agency ‘Stuff’ has generated based on the research findings. The resulting campaign will be rolled out with the support of South Gloucestershire and Bristol City Councils and then evaluated to consider the impact of a social marketing approach.

Below are some of the comments made by cyclists when asked to describe their drawings on what cycling meant for them.

“Peaceful to be going outside. Any worries or thoughts of the kids screaming, that’s all gone. Peaceful.” (Female occasional cyclist)

“I made it to show relaxed, fresh air, outdoor, nice day, being calm, you know, no stress, straightforward. Fresh air, just being outdoors.” (Female leisure cyclist).

“I’ll be coming home from work. It’s nice to get on your bike after a stressful day. You don’t have to sit in the traffic. It’s a stress buster. It is. It feels good.” (Male utility cyclist).

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