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If you’ve been a bicycle dealer for any length of time, you’ll be aware of Apollo, one of Australia’s longest-running and most successful bicycle brands. Apollo was founded way back in 1978. Apollo has not only been sold throughout Australia for decades, but has carved out significant markets overseas.
But how much do you know about Apollo’s much newer brand, Neo?
Neo is the result of years of ‘ground up’ development to create a complete range of lighter weight, better handling, higher spec’d kids’ bikes.
Of course, all of these features mean that Neo is at the premium end of the market. But Neo’s run-away success has proved that there’s a large marketplace of parents (and no doubt grandparents too!) who are prepared to pay more if they can be shown value for money.
Neo’s Back Story
Neo was first conceived as a lightweight kids’ bike range about eight years ago by GPI Apollo CEO, Simon Burke. The concept and product were valid, but initial uptake was slower than expected.
Post discussions with Simon, Warwick Mitchell joined GPI Apollo after a background as the Managing Director of Puma Australia for well over a decade. Along his progression to the top tier of the sporting goods industry Warwick had completed roles in product management, sales and brand marketing across a number of industries.
Although new to bicycles, Warwick could see that the go to market challenges were similar to other industries.
It was all about genuine product innovation, technical differentiation and market communication. In other words, effectively conveying to potential purchasers the distinguishing features of Neo bikes and differentiating the brand from the crowded mid-market segment. The aim was to create a highly desirable kids’ bike that could command a premium. This can be easier said than done.
The experienced GPI Apollo team set to work across their core competencies to bring the vision and strategy to market which involved capturing of data, critical analysis and the development of various go to market scenarios.
Neo’s Value Proposition
Central was the establishment of a hard core of integrated cornerstone philosophies. From the ground up design, Neo was designed to be as safe as possible, designed to fit with lower standover heights promoting safety and confidence, as well as bike performance and efficiency. Concurrently the team worked on the tech side withy its featherweight alloy frame and fork, hubs, rims, handlebars and stem being central to the lightweight product delivery. This was a point of clear differentiation to the many competitors with steel kids’ bikes
The Apollo team also paid close attention to child-friendly ergonomics and features with a real focus on specific girls and boys standover height specifically to build rider confidence, safety with the upside of greater rider enjoyment.
In addition, taking inspiration and learnings from the sports and broader industry segments they added tech callouts or reveals as Warwick calls them to the bikes allowing the consumers a journey of discovery and also generating talking points for bike staff to engage with the consumer. Clever!
The Neo brand has had a clear vision from conception as to how ideally it could roll out. It started with creating the unique Neo brand. To initially launch Neo, it was as ‘Neo by Apollo’ to benefit from the well-known family name. But as Neo builds recognition, it’s becoming a stand-alone brand with significant value in its own right.
This strategy has been proven in other markets such as Toyota creating Lexus for its higher end models.
Having the philosophies and tech determined a new dramatic look was critical to bring the product and launch plan to market. A distinctive brushed metal process was decided upon, rather than the painted frames that are traditional on kids’ bikes. The brushed alloy allows Neo a different look to all the other kids bikes on the market and has very much become their signature look. There is still plenty of bright colour to attract young riders with the forks, decals, chain guards and in some models, rims and handlebars, all colour coordinated.
GPI Apollo back this up with a significant investment in size charts, swing tags, catalogues, a dedicated Neo website and strong supporting social media.
Neo + and Neo Disc + Headline MY22 Releases
The rigorous approach to market has seen three years of great sales results with strong dealer and consumer uptake. GPI Apollo have been determined to capitalise on their success with September 2021 seeing the release of the MY22 new range.
Neo + is a new, uncomplicated extension
of the well-respected Neo name into the market.
Neo + will introduce featherweight alloy hydroformed frame tubing providing a different look, refined geometry and new exciting colourways. The range size is from 26” to 12” with specific boys’ and girls’ frames.
Also new to market for MY22 will be Neo + Disc, a brand extension being released across Girls and Boys 20” & 24” geared models. The Neo Disc + as the name suggests, includes disc brakes for greater stopping power and a suspension fork w/lockout to take kids to new levels of adventure off the beaten track, plus a subtle change in bike decals, available from October 2021.
Fundamental to the new releases and the overarching desire to deliver great value for money is that the team behind the Neo brand has not wavered from its core philosophies and technical development commitment. They believe this will continue to help build the brand’s desirability among dealers and young bike riders as well as Neo’s continued growth across all its markets.
And the good news in today’s long lead time, covid delayed market is that GPI Apollo have backed the launch with great depth of inventory available from September!
Neo bikes are available throughout Australia, New Zealand and several international markets.
For more information contact GPI Apollo on (03) 9700 9400 or visit www.neobicycles.com.au