The future of scooters in retail
The market for electric scooters is still in its infancy as it remains unclear how rules and regulations will develop for their use on public roads or cycle paths. But already we are starting to see some market fragmentation as the dominance of Xiaomi erodes and new players enter the market. Xiaomi is a large Chinese corporation, who have gained some traction in the past 5 years in several consumer segments, including mobile phones. It secured a First to Market position within eMobility in much of Europe, offering affordable scooters with a reasonable quality.
Race to the bottom
Xiaomi’s first to market proposition and its lack of channel management gave rise to their current category leading position, these same factors are what will ultimately lead to it being overtaken as the category further develops and more traditional retailers entry the picture. By deciding to adopt the traditional path of Chinese suppliers; selling to anyone and everyone, which has resulted in chaotic pricing policies, heavy discounting within the market and a mix of grey imports within the channel that have no warranty support from the brand. These factors combined mean that Xiaomi will simply end up being a price play and ultimately it’s a race to the bottom, none of this gives any positives to the long-term positioning of its brand.
What other brands are there?
Xiaomi’s declining market share has seen the rise of a number of Own Brand e-scooters, and an emerging choice of designs and functionality. David Feakins, RCG Group Managing Director is keeping a close eye on the e-scooter evolution and expects “a proliferation of new brands to emerge, both in the Direct Purchase area and also the Rental sector, which is at the forefront of electric scooters right now. We believe we are in a good position by backing an entry-level value / volume brand in Decent, a rising brand InMotion, which offers a different type of riding experience, and our premium brand, Unagi, which is pursuing an Apple-like strategy of supreme quality and design, backed by considerable marketing investment. We shall take on other Vendors of course if we believe they offer consumers something different.”
Customers wallets do the talking
As the electric scooter market matures and becomes a mass market product category, there will be an inevitable shift in consumer choice and values. When e-scooters first started to appear, there was a view that “any scooter” was good. Consumers have become wiser to the category and making more informed decisions regarding design, functionality and value. Cheaper scooters with bland design, poor quality and limited functionality will no longer be viable and the market will demand better products to provide superior ride quality, run time, charging and accessory options.