Getting Americans to think (and buy) R-i-z-o-m-a

Publish Date: 
Sep 22, 2011
By Bruce Steever

Rizoma may not be a household name in the U.S., but that will change as Rizoma expands its marketing presence and dealer network here in the states. The challenge isn’t getting the name out to American riders — many enthusiasts are aware of the brand thanks to its massive footprint in the European and British media. Instead, the challenge will be finding the right dealers to partner with as Rizoma expands into new markets and segments.

For dealers who are unfamiliar with the Rizoma brand, it is renowned for creating high-end hard parts with a focus on style and function, particularly for European machinery. “Until recently, our brand has grown here in the USA mostly by word of mouth and by the enthusiastic support of a small group of dealers buying from Italy,” explains James Eiland, Rizoma USA’s general manager.

“This year we started marketing our brand and product with magazine advertising, product evaluations, our great website and more recently with our involvement in MotoGP. Rizoma has had a long affiliation with LCR racing, and this year at Laguna Seca we upped the ante by becoming the event sponsor for the LCR team and fielding a second LCR bike with Ben Bostrom in the seat.”

Some dealers may dismiss Rizoma as “moto-jewelry”, something something too exotic or specific for their customers. Eiland begs to differ, by explaining how even high-end products offer plenty of value to customers.

“Many of our components improve the function of the motorcycle. Our handlebars and adjustable rearsets let a rider customize the ergos to fit his or her preferences, our wheel and frame sliders protect the rider’s investment in the case of a tip over, and our ProGuard system can help prevent accidents by protecting the handle levers from being depressed accidently. In these times customers want to get the most out of their investments, including their motorcycles, and we think Rizoma products can help to maximize the function as well as the look.”

What Rizoma builds transcends mere metal, and is more than just a great combination of style and function: they make artfully designed and machined parts that are unique in a crowded market. Style comes easily to Rizoma, being built just outside of Milan, but improved performance is just as important. And not only are the parts themselves amazing pieces of engineering, the packaging and presentation (see pic above) are on a higher level as well.

Each Rizoma part comes in clean black box with minimal graphics, much like a presentation case for a ring or watch. And the catalog is simply motorcycle porn: gorgeous studio pictures, a cleanly designed layout, and crafted from extremely heavy stock with multiple finishes. [Seriously, we have the thing in our office; we stare at it on our lunch breaks. –Ed.]

“We have a wide range of products for a wide range of streetbikes. The common thread is the rider’s desire to have something that is not ordinary, something well designed and well made,” explains Eiland. “Our customer is trying to find something special and unique that they’re not going to see on their local street corner. Our catalog is the same way. It is more about the culture of the company. Attention to detail is big with Rizoma. The same can be found in our packaging and all our components. And of course, creating smart packaging and a beautiful catalog is just smart marketing.”

And with that attention to detail, Rizoma intends to expand its dealer network to reach more American customers. But the point isn’t to nail down as many dealers as possible. “Our main goal is to build a support network that is as focused on quality as is our product,” Eiland says. “We want our customers to be able to find a good retail representation of our product line, supported by dealers who know and appreciate the unique value of Rizoma components, and will provide installation if needed and after the sale support. In short, we are looking for dealers who understand the difference between a $60 turn signal, and a set of four for $30.

“For our part, we want to support the dealers with margins starting at 30 percent, strong retail tools such as our catalog, website, display fixtures, and what we believe is the best packaging in the business. We also provide timely delivery (our goal is three to four days in transit). We offer spare parts for many components should something get damaged or worn. If we take care of our customers, the [sales] numbers should take care of themselves.

“We are fortunate to have a wide selection of products for many different models. Offering components for everything from the Diavel to the FZ6, from a Sportster to a 1198 gives us a wide customer base. Having over 1,000 SKUs always gives us a chance to sell them something. We are growing, but we need to do more. We are constantly developing new items, so the guy who previously had every Rizoma component for his bike is back in the dealership again. We will continue to look for new ways to make motorcycles better. What we need right now are some strong dealers. Daily we get calls from customers asking where they can go and see the product in person. When I can tell them that they can ride 50 miles or so and see a good selection, they get excited, but when I have to tell them that the closest registered dealer is a few hundred miles out, they search for alternatives. We would like to keep some of those customers.”

For dealers interested in attracting these same consumers with an eye for high-end, top quality products, be sure to check out Rizoma’s latest products at www.rizoma.com or give them a call at 877-RIZOMA-1.