Getting to know Garmin’s Jim McConnel

Today we’re chatting to Jim McConnel, Garmin brand manager at Madison. McConnel has been at the UK distributor for over seven years and has been responsible for Garmin, Science in Sport, and Profile Design in that time. As a former National Cross Duathlon Champion, he knows a thing or two about endurance sports and is well-placed to discuss products that are relevant in the lives of competitive athletes.

How long have you worked at Madison and how long have you been working with Garmin?

I started at Madison just over seven years ago and have been responsible for the Garmin relationship for four years now. It’s a leading brand for Madison and one that I spend time developing with passion.

What are Garmin’s main focusses now?
Madison delivers specialist Garmin products to cycle dealers in the UK. The focus for Garmin in the cycling category is currently split into two areas – product-wise they are expanding the Garmin ecosystem of products used on and around the bicycle such as Varia Radar and the brand-new Edge 1030 GPS Cycling Computer. At a more strategic level, by restructuring route to market for specialist products in the different categories, Garmin is working towards a goal to create better product availability and consumer experience at store level. The brand wants a stronger presence in shops than ever before.

Any Garmin success stories/what has worked well in the past?
The original Vector power meter announced in 2014 represented expansion into a new category for Garmin, the start of the Garmin cycling ecosystem of products. Featuring dual sided multiple sensor measurement housed in a pair of road pedals, there was a lot of interest from the off. The first power meter that could be easily swapped from one bike to another was an interesting development.

Are there any areas that you think retailers should be making more of going into 2018?
We would always encourage retailers to speak with their Madison Account Managers about their ideas for improving footfall in their stores. Everyone understands the pressures that traditional retail is facing. Stores need to offer unique propositions to thrive. Whilst Garmin can be considered a simple boxed product, being able to handle and test a device, with some helpful training tips can really help add value and confidence for a consumer when they are considering a £500 purchase. Having brand ambassadors amongst shop staff is key to helping deliver the added value. Brands are investing to help provide tools and facilities in store. Shopkeepers should be encouraged to embrace these programs to succeed.

With so much technology out there, what is Madison doing to help retailers decipher fads from genuine growth markets?
Madison is a veteran in the cycling market with experience of both fads and firm bets. We’ve seen both. With a huge network of sport businesses and industry contacts, part of our role is to keep abreast of what’s happening out there. We’re very lucky to have a passionate and diverse team here at Madison who bring different views to any discussion – be it a new technology, or a new brand of tyre seeking entry to the market. We disseminate brand and range planning advice to our stores using a mixture of historical sales data, and market information.

With Vector 3 on the horizon, why should retailers look to invest in the power meter market?
Power is a growing and evolving category that specialist retailers can welcome with confidence. 10 years ago, power meters were reserved for the pro teams and elite riders. With a small number of brands involved, high prices, and low consumer understanding of power, the market was very small. Times have changed, more brands are involved, there’s a wider product choice, reduced costs, better accuracy and most importantly a greater consumer understanding and demand for the available data. With the recent arrival of virtual indoor training from the likes of ZWIFT and Trainer Road, power is becoming the approved metric to back up all that training. Heart rate, cadence, and even speed is considered less critical. It’s all about the Watts. With a growing competitive group of cyclists whose main motivation to ride is to better themselves, these are the key targets for power meters.

What does the immediate future hold for Garmin and Madison? Anything retailers should be aware of?
Madison recently launched the new Garmin Edge 1030 GPS Cycling computer to a select national network of independent bike shops. That’s really flying for everyone right now as the early adopters pick up the new unit. The Edge 1030 takes screen visibility, battery life, navigation and data analysis to a new level. No rest though and we are getting ready imminently to deliver Vector 3 to a similar group of power specialist dealers. The system will launch in shops at £849, with enhanced accuracy and a new sleek design where the transmitter pods have been reworked inside the pedal design, which we hope will please many people.

Something that all retailers should now is that we offer a special extended warranty on the extremely popular Garmin Edge 820 and Edge 1030 products. This is an offer that is exclusive to Madison and effectively gives consumers a two year warranty and offers a saving of approximately £70. In such a competitive area of the market, such an offer is key for retailers when closing sales.

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