Case | HBS Case Collection | April 2010

A Giant Among Women

by Willy C. Shih, Ethan S Bernstein, Maly Hout Bernstein, Jyun-Cheng Wang and Yi-Ling Wei

Abstract

Few CEOs successfully manage the evolution of their companies from OEM outsourcer to branded manufacturer to expert consumer marketer as well as Tony Lo, CEO of Giant Manufacturing Co. Ltd., now the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world. In the mid-1980s, Giant produced over a million bikes per year with the Giant brand on fewer than 15% of them; by 2008, Giant was producing 6.4 million bicycles with 70% carrying the Giant brand. And in 2010, the transition was still in-process as CEO Lo experimented with a new business model for women cyclists in Taiwan and globally--leveraging some of Giant's lessons learned and challenging others. The case explores Giant's historical evolution from OEM outsourcer to branded manufacturer, which relied heavily on Giant's forward integration into the construction of a world-class, global retail organization. Giant's ability to understand the customer and move him/her up-market has driven both sales growth and profitability (e.g., average sales prices in 2006, 2007, and 2008 were $325, $345, and $360 respectively). That sets the stage for Lo's latest challenge: a realization that his products were not meeting the needs of women customers (including particularly his wife). As a result, Lo commissioned his CFO Bonnie Tu to open the first all-women's bicycle store in Taipei (owned by corporate, not the traditional retail organization), and charged her not only with figuring out the needs of women customers, but also mandating that she turn a profit. "Because your only customers are women, if you don't know how to sell to them, you're out of business -period. So you experiment for survival," explained Lo. The case concludes by examining the company's continuing integration into retail stores, looking closely at the Liv/giant pilot and the surprising business model that it developed.

Keywords: Consumer Behavior; Customer Focus and Relationships; Global Strategy; Gender Characteristics; Customer Satisfaction; Product Development; Bicycle Industry; Taiwan;

Citation:

Shih, Willy C., Ethan S. Bernstein, Maly Hout Bernstein, Jyun-Cheng Wang, and Yi-Ling Wei. "A Giant Among Women." Harvard Business School Case 610-096, April 2010.