Giant Cycling

May 7, 2011

Those who have a bicycle please raise your hands. Those who own a Giant bicycle please raise your hands. Have you heard of it? No? Well that’s because it only has two stores in America: one in Boston and one in Denver. They do sell some bikes through cycling shops but the name “Giant” is still not a household name in the States. However, it is a global brand with several Tour De France wins to its credit.

We toured its manufacturing facility and, with the help of the knowledge gleaned from an Operations Management course, I was able to understand which processes were used to build Giant bikes. Kanban cards and Kaizen, information I wished to never have to use were the elements that made this factory run efficiently. Unfortunately, this facility was more secretive than the Wonka Chocolate Factory, which means I have no pictures from this portion of the tour. And like Wonka, Giant uses diminutive, orange men to perform the everyday tasks. They’re perfect because they have the nimble fingers of a child but the legal age of an adult. But like I said, I have no pictures so you’ll need to take my word on this one.

When I asked Zack (our tour guide) what separates Giant from its competitors he replied “Giant doesn’t just sell a bike; Giant sells a lifestyle.” Giant promotes healthy living through bike riding as well as nutritional guidance. Giant also promotes biking excursions around Taiwan. Giant will set up tours and will provide tour guides, food, lodging, and vans for luggage and supplies. All a cyclist needs to worry about is peddling.

Giant sells a good product but it doesn’t leave it at that. It seems like Giant stays involved with its customers.  I like this for several reasons. The single most important reason why I like this is because when a company just sells a product, I don’t think consumers are as loyal. When another company builds a similar product and sells it at a cheaper price the consumer will most likely switch to the other product. Apple, Coca-Cola, BMW, Gucci, all of these brands sell an image as well as a product. When a company sells a lifestyle, a way of thinking, consumers become much more loyal because the brand becomes an extension of their personality.

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