InSight: Tianjin Fuji-ta Group

In marketing a bicycle, it helps to have a unique selling proposition which often includes lightest , fastest or some other superlative adjective. In pitching themselves to potential clients, bicycle manufacturers seek to cut through in a similar way.

You d think the world s biggest bicycle manufacturer claim is fairly binary: you either are or are not. Alas, in the world of marketing, not everything is so straightforward. Taiwanese brand Giant is said to be the world s largest bicycle manufacturer by revenue, while Hero Cycles of India asserts it is the largest cycle manufacturer in the world with a manufacturing capacity of 7.5 million bicycles per year. The obvious problem with Hero s claim is that capacity doesn t equal production. Given Giant produced 6.6 million bicycles in FY14 (of which roughly 70% were company brands such as Giant , Liv or Momentum ), compared to Hero s 5.5 million in the same period, the size of each company s annual order book means the two could be engaged in a constant wrestling match for the world s biggest title well into the future.

Unless, of course, another contender enters the ring.

With a claimed production capacity of 20 million bicycles, and actual FY14 production around 12 million units, Tianjin Fuji-ta Group Co., Ltd (or simply Fuji-ta , often anglicised as Fushida ) manufactures as many bicycles in a year as Giant and Hero combined. Unlike its famous counterparts whose eponymous brands have international reach, Fuji-ta s house brand Battle has low visibility outside of Chinese-speaking markets. Better known are Fuji-ta s OEM partners. The Tianjin-based manufacturer, which claims to account for 12-15% of China s total annual bicycle production, counts Avanti, Bianchi, Cannondale, Scott and Walmart amongst its long list of international clients.

Until now, Fuji-ta has appeared content with this dynamic; ie, OEM customers come first. Contrast this with Giant, Merida and Insera Sena manufacturers that have prioritised their own brands whilst continuing to produce for OEM customers. Interestingly, Fuji-ta has recently launched a new website that is far more polished than its predecessor and has also been experimenting with non-mainland communication platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube (see the recently-published company promo below). On the face of it, this is simply a client-procurement measure; presumably to win more business at a time when industry margins are shrinking and competition is increasing. In a somewhat-typical, humorously modest fashion, Fuji-ta even rates itself (the service rating of 99% clearly conveying a striving for perfection message):

A more fascinating explanation could be that this is the leading edge of a consumer-facing strategical pivot which, in the long term, could see Fuji-ta directly take on its industry peers in the global market. After all, who wouldn t want to buy a bicycle from the world s biggest bicycle manufacturer that also just happens to produce bikes for some of today s most respected brands?