Why Schwinn Canceled Its 2020 Marketing in the Middle of Its 125th Anniversary

The bike brand knew there would be little inventory online because demand is so high

a mashup of various Schwinn articles
This would’ve been some of the creative used for Schwinn’s 125th anniversary. Courtesy of Schwinn
Headshot of Nicole Ortiz

The bike industry has seen a spike in engagement over the past few months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, even as other industries struggle.

As Adweek previously reported, bike brands have seen an increase in sales and engagement throughout the pandemic as consumers pursue cycling to exercise in a safe, socially distant way. People are also avoiding public transit and doing things like commuting and running errands using their bikes. For many brands and bike shops, this has depleted most of their stock, a problem that was heightened by manufacturing delays at the beginning of the year.

Bike brand Schwinn is the latest to see an increase in sales and interest from new and existing cyclists. And over the past six months, the brand, along with other bike brands, has sustained this new business normal. According to data from OnePoll and Mongoose bikes, 46.8% of families polled said they have ridden bikes together as a way to stay active during quarantine.

While other bike brands have pivoted their planned campaigns due to Covid-19, according to Schwinn senior communications manager Ryan Birkicht, “we’ve actually had multiple campaigns that were set up prior to the pandemic starting in March that we had to turn off before we even ran them.”

Birkicht continued, “Even though we invested all that money to create assets and stuff, we just weren’t able to run them because we didn’t want to frustrate consumers by sending them to pages with sold out products.”

Unfortunately, this meant the brand had to bypass a major marketing milestone in celebrating its 125th anniversary.

“We actually had a bunch of products that were specifically made for the anniversary,” said Birkicht. “We were really excited to sell [those new bikes] with marketing campaigns and ad campaigns built behind them. And we’re not going to be able to reuse those assets because next year in 2021 it’ll be 126 years.”

Schwinn differs from other bike brands in that it focuses most of its energy on selling through mass retailers such as Walmart and Amazon in addition to its own direct-to-consumer platform, where its higher-end products are found.

One way Birkicht predicts the cycling industry will change in the coming months and year due to Covid-19 is the adoption of electric bikes, which are already popular in Europe.

“It’s going to be interesting to watch how micromobility electric bikes are going to be adopted on a mass scale for the United States,” he said. “Schwinn will definitely be creating ad campaigns to support that theory in 2021, just making sure people are educated about how to buy an e-bike and what it could do to service their specific needs.”

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@neco_ornot nicole.ortiz@adweek.com Nicole Ortiz is a senior editor at Adweek, overseeing magazine departments such as Trending, Talent Pool, Data Points, Voice and Perspective.