Word of Mouth marketing: The Case of Brompton Bikes

Here’s a case of a product that has grown through word of mouth marketing: Brompton bikes.

Our family have become big users of Brompton bikes over the last ten years. We have 3, and a range of child seat options so that the 4 of us can head into old town Barcelona on a weekend.

The home fleet of bikes

I first came across Brompton when I was given one as a gift by a group of Entrepreneurs (thank you Forum Berlin!). At first, I thought “I’ve already got 2 bikes… who needs a folding bike?” Within a year… I had left my other bikes behind and I pretty much ride the Brompton both mid week and weekend.

Our Brompton bikes work well. They are good to ride (6 gears, good steering). They are easy to fold… and they fold up small and easy to handle (although heavy to carry any more than 50m… but not a problem as you just turn it back into a bike).

We had 2 Brompton bikes stolen last week. Annoying… to use a polite word. They were in the back of the car, in an underground parking.

I was looking at all the folding bike options over the last week (I ended up buying 2 new Bromptons to replace the stolen ones… after checking out all the other options).

Since google tracks everything… I now see lots of Brompton videos popping up in my YouTube feed. I loved this talk by the CEO of Brompton Bikes, Will Butler-Adams. He’s clearly not so interesting in being a nice person, but deeply interested in producing an excellent bicycle.

His marketing comparison: Gillette – 95% of what you are paying for is tennis players lifestyles and flashy billboards. That worked for years… because spending lots of money on making a great product was a waste in a world where TV advertising was the way new products and ideas got out to the wider market.

Brompton is growing now because of Powerful Word of Mouth marketing.

Brompton’s founder, Andrew Ritchie only focussed on making an excellent bike. He only worked with suppliers and distributors who cared about product quality. For years, this made it hard to grow their sales. Word of mouth was a slow growth tool in the 1980s, 1990s… but then came social media. Bit by bit, people who used a Brompton would recommend them… and sales grew bike by bike.

Today, Social media, blogs and vlogs allow for honest people to share honest reviews of good products.

This has me reflecting on how Vistage can be like Brompton… make sure our member experience is always excellent… and allow our members to be our best marketing (as they will be the best in knowing whether other CEOs share our 7 beliefs).

Where to buy a Brompton in Barcelona? Folding Bikes House. Great team (ask for Adrià!), great selection, great area to hang out while they service your bike.

Author: Conor Neill

Hi, I’m Conor Neill, an Entrepreneur and Teacher at IESE Business School. I speak about Moving People to Action.

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