Utilising mobile applications to cluster the cycling community

Dodds, Kirk (2023) Utilising mobile applications to cluster the cycling community. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral thesis)
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The rapid expansion of mobile applications (referred to as apps) is significant following the impact of Covid 19. This global growth has seen a 122.98% increase in app downloads, from 64.4 billion downloads in 2015 to 143.6 billion in 2021 (Business of Apps 2022a). Not only are app downloads at an all-time high, but this also transfers to revenue derived from mobile apps. Global app revenues saw a 19% increase between 2020 and 2021, with the market worth $133 billion (Business of Apps 2022b).

Specifically, the growth in fitness based mobile apps has been even more pronounced. In 2021 this market saw an increase of 45% in app downloads and a 54% increase in revenues, with this hyper-growth resulting in an estimated 385 million users (Business of Apps, 2022c). The growth in fitness apps transfers across to the cycling context. Strava reported 95 million active users in January 2022, adding two million users monthly, leading to an increase of 70% in membership levels and $167 million annually in revenue since 2021 (Business of Apps, 2022d). Thus, mobile fitness apps are the new battleground of audiences’ healthier lifestyle choices (Zhao & Zhang 2021).

With the phenomenal growth in fitness mobile apps and cycling, this thesis aims to investigate the new battleground (Zhao & Zhang 2021) of mobile apps within the context of cycling. As such, this study seeks to test a method to cluster cycling audiences based on their engagement in the functions of mobile apps and then overlay their attitudes and behaviours.

This thesis has adopted a multi-staged exploratory method of data collection and analysis. This resulted in a full-scale survey collecting 434 responses from active cyclists during a period from December 2021 to March 2022. The survey explored: involvement in cycling, mobile apps for cycling, motivations for cycling, mobile engagement, and demographics.

Findings utilised two-step cluster analysis to identify four distinct segments of cyclists using; themes of Badge of Honour (aligned to mobile app Strava) and World of Rules (aligned to mobile app Zwift) (Hofacker et al. 2016). The study builds on Hofacker et al. (2016), “badging” (p.28) as it provides visual identifiers, which transfer across to cyclists as a Badge of Honour. Hofacker et al. (2016) stressed the importance of game-centric, with the new immersing worlds of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), which transfer to cyclists as World of Rules.

The four clusters described within this thesis as The Old-School Fanatic /Ultraconservative, Technology Movers, Mobile Savvy, and Fully Immersed, have conclusions drawn based on their motivations for cycling, involvement within cycling, attitudes, and behaviours towards mobile apps in cycling and mobile app engagement. In addition, these clusters varied in their usage and engagement in game-centric apps and social-centric apps and the use of indoor cycling, as influenced by Strava and Zwift.

This thesis adds to the existing literature, especially the initial work of Zhao and Balugue (2015) through empirical testing of a framework of the five functions of mobile apps which are adopted to cluster cycling audiences. In further aiding the research of Lamont & Jenkins (2013) the study segments the four clusters’ motivations for cycling, the behaviour of cycling along with their attitudes towards cycling – resulting in the first time a rich depth of insight for each cluster.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: mobile applications (apps), segmentation, cycling sector, mobile marketing
Subjects: N100 Business studies
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Business Administration
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2023 08:27
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2024 03:30
URI: https://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/51648

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