Norco: City Project
engaging a city on a local & personal level
3 week case study | UX
Make the process of buying a bike less intimidating and promote city cycling within Vancouver.
01. Our Aprroach
We propose a web platform paired with an in-store app dedicated to Norco's city bike segment so they can engage this market on a local and personal level, bringing them into focus as an integral part of the brand.
The Initial Business Problem
Norco is well established as a bike and parts provider across North America, operating since 1964. The brand has a very rich history and began it’s venture focusing strictly on mountain bikes. As the company grew, Norco needed to adapt to a broader range of customers. Today, Norco’s emphasis is currently on the mountain and road bike sectors but still, little attention has been given to their city bikes. Oddly enough, even without bringing attention to their city bikes, they currently bring in the majority of Norco’s profit. We saw this as a massive opportunity for growth and the chance to engage a neglected customer base.
Insights & Opportunities
A few members of our team have experience working at or buying from a bike dealer so we had some insight as to how the industry worked prior to our research. After doing an industry audit and looking at best in-class examples, we discovered that there was a shift in the market moving away from massive international brands. In major cities, small bike companies were engaging riders to buy locally. We saw that these small companies knew the city on a personal level which resonated with city riders who would then trust these brands to provide the ideal bike for their purposes. We had an opportunity to provide the intimate knowledge of Vancouver, BC and create relevant bikes that were tailored to specific riding styles and popular locations within the city.
We thought that we could take this a step further and improve Norco’s product development system that had been in place for decades. Norco is heavily invested in their mountain and road bike technology. Eventually, this technology trickles down and is adopted by their city bikes but we felt that this was not a holistic way of improving their products. We wanted to create a dynamic feedback mechanism that would provide useful insights for Norco to use in developing their bikes as well as strengthen their relationship with the riders.
Providing a location based bike for city-specific conditions is one thing, but communicating that to an inexperienced customer is another. Our market-research discovered that the majority of city bike riders who had little experience buying a bike were too intimidated to visit a bike dealer for information. Instead they turned to two other options; the internet or a mass merchant store such as Walmart. The internet was an important touchpoint for us to address in the process of buying a city bike, as it is usually the first point of interaction with the customer. Often, what the customer found on the internet were bike specifics and numbers that didn’t mean anything to them because they aren’t bike mechanics. Customers that visited the mass merchant stores were helped by employees that wouldn’t be able to identify any of the customer’s needs. In both cases there was a lack of educating the customer with crucial information that would lead them to buying the correct bike. We wanted to create a website that would breakdown and explain each individual part of the bike in a relevant and consumable way so the customer is able to understand why a part is suitable for certain conditions.
We explored different ways of how we could engage an audience that varies in bike knowledge and still provide information that wouldn’t be redundant. Instead of just taking the existing information on the Norco website and reformatting it, we wanted to utilize the power of storytelling and structure the content as a narrative. By reframing how a customer is able to discover and learn about bikes, we had creative freedom to explore different ways to effectively present a narrative in an interactive form. At this time, parallax websites were just breaking into the industry with companies like Mini Cooper, Sierra Nevada and countless others using this tool as a method of storytelling. We thought that parallax could potentially bring a dynamic feel to an otherwise static industry and give us the opportunity to present relevant information to another level. We decided to place each bike in the ideal conditions that it was meant for by creating a virtual environment which corresponds to each part of the bike.
This was a project in a senior Experience Design course. Our process began with thorough research on Norco as a brand, its competition and the industry as a whole. All with the goal of uncovering a core business problem and contextualizing it. This project included extensive information modelling, swot analyses and because of the locality of Norco, contextual interviews at local bike shops and an interview with a director at Norco’s headquarters.