Cycling components distributor Highway Two said a marketing partnership in which it pledged a percentage of pre-season sales to the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) exceeded expectations.
NICA’s executive director, Austin McInerny said, “Highway Two is the first company in NICA’s history to support the future of cycling by directly committing a percentage of their annual sales, and it’s been very positive for all concerned.” When NICA initially approached H2 with a sponsorship suggestion, the company’s promotional strategy was already set for 2015. Yet H2 president George Eubanks saw value in supporting NICA and was willing to give more thought to the idea.
“NICA student-athletes are the next generation of cycling customers, but NICA is not just bringing new kids into the sport, it brings in their parents and siblings as well,” Eubanks said at the time. “There is a lot of potential here to expand the cycling market into the key growth areas of women and youth.”
The idea of a sales percentage was slated, but while a generous offer, this presented a budgeting question mark for NICA. So, H2 offered a minimum guarantee, based on sales projections, which qualified them for NICA’s platinum level.
NICA advertised the project among its network and promoted all of the brands, using auctions, promotional videos, newsletters and its social media channels.
“We had a very good response from within the NICA community, people were grateful and said they’d be looking for those brands when they shopped for bike parts,” said McInerny.
NICA also sent letters to dealers carrying Highway Two brands, explaining how these retailers were helping “grow the pie”.
“We provided them with our demographics and pointed out 36 percent of mothers and 61 percent of fathers take up or resume cycling as a result of their child’s participation in a NICA league,” McInerny said. “We offered up the youth angle as a selling point. It was great to see the dealers working with Highway Two and stepping up to support our cycling development programs.”
Nine months later, H2 came back to NICA with good news. Their pre-season sales had been strong and the donated amount was going to be substantially more than the guaranteed minimum.
“It was a very positive exercise for H2,” said Eubanks. “We are a young company and this was good not only for our brands but also for the H2 brand. Our ownership brands include Continental, fi’zi:k, Selle Royal, Brooks and crankbrothers. Highway Two is the connection of these brands to the dealer. The dealers are the recipient of the work NICA is doing to grow the market and get more people to buy bicycles and parts, so it’s pretty clear to me that by helping the kids we’re helping our brands and the dealers.”
McInerny points out the donation is tax deductible, and he says, the H2 model is relevant to a lot of brands since it’s a sales-driven approach.
“Motivated by this positive experience, we are now looking at ways to leverage such partnerships and promote participating brands through our channels. We would like to talk to bicycle dealers in our network and our clients’ networks about mutually beneficial ways of leveraging relationships like this. We are always looking for ways to actively support the brands that support us.”
Founded in 2009, the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) develops middle and high school mountain biking programs for student-athletes across the United States. NICA provides leadership, services and governance for local leagues to produce quality mountain bike events, and supports every student-athlete in the development of strong body, strong mind and strong character through their efforts on the bike. With programs running in eighteen separate states, NICA is aiming to have 20,000 students participating by 2020.
Highway Two, LLC is the North American distributor of premium bicycle component and accessory brands Continental, fi'zi:k, Selle Royal, Brooks, crankbrothers, Abus and Kask. Formed as a partnership between Continental Tire of Germany and Selle Royal Group of Italy, Highway Two distributes these seven authentic cycling brands to over 5,000 independent bicycle dealers in the United States and Canada.