How well do you know the women's market?

Publish Date: 
Nov 1, 2008
By Genevieve Schmitt

Since I started this column two years ago, the concept of marketing and selling to women in the powersports industry has moved from an idea on the periphery to a real marketing strategy. Dealerships all over the country are now holding some type of ladies-only, event whether it's a Harley-Davidson branded garage party, or a Motorcycling 101 seminar. I've had the pleasure of speaking at some of these events. The feedback I receive from what happens after these events is incredible. I've yet to hear from a dealer who hasn't sold a motorcycle or two (or five) as a result of holding a women's event. If the event is organized with a solid goal of educating and inspiring women to ride, you have a high chance of convincing the participants they should ride a motorcycle. They should come back in the weeks following ready to buy.

If you're not engaged in any women-focused initiatives, why not? Do you still need convincing? Let's revisit some marketing myths about women to underscore the value of women-focused marketing strategies. See how well you do in this "true or false" quiz.

1. Women and men want to ride motorcycles for the same reasons.

True. Women want to enjoy all the same feelings of freedom, independence and empowerment that men feel when they ride a motorcycle.

2. Women and men wrestle with the same mental and emotional self-imposed barriers when deciding to ride a motorcycle.

False. Women often go through many more mental exercises than men when it comes to deciding whether they should learn to ride a motorcycle. This is because, historically, women were not supposed to be involved in activities or sports that society has reserved for men. Young women today don't deal with that concept as much as women in their 40s and 50s, who grew up with the notion that women are the inferior sex and are supposed to be caretakers in the home, not out motorcycling.

Women also wrestle with issues of confidence much more than men when it comes to handling a motorcycle. This is basically due to physical size. Generally speaking, women are smaller and not as strong as men, so they view the handling of a 600 lb. motorcycle differently than men. Women deal with issues of guilt more than men. Again, middle-aged women today were brought up to focus on family, not self. When a woman decides to ride a motorcycle, she's doing something solely for herself, and that can bring on issues of guilt that men don't often feel under the same conditions.

3. Women and men's brains are wired differently.

True. Women and men's brains are most certainly wired differently, literally. Women have a larger corpus callosum than men (the bundle of fibers connecting the two brain hemispheres), which give them the ability to process more and different messages simultaneously. Because of this biological difference, men are more linear in their thinking and can focus on only a few tasks simultaneously.

You probably notice this difference among your staff members. A woman can accomplish many more tasks thrown at her in a day, starting one while another is only halfway finished. She then takes on a third task while she's involved with the other two. By the end of the day, she's accomplished all three. Men on the other hand (generally speaking) must finish one task before starting another.

4. When your marketing messages include women, you turn off men.

False. Quite the contrary. When you market to women, you are also appealing to men. Marketing to women means using lifestyle-based messages rather than statistical messages. Men get that and can appreciate it, too.

5. Companies that align themselves with a cause (cause marketing) have a greater chance of influencing a woman to change brands than those who do not.

True. This is called the "halo effect," the do-gooder mentality that comes when a company or brand aligns itself with a charity or social issue that a woman sees as valuable. Brand loyalty for a woman goes beyond the fact that she likes the company behind the motorcycle she chose.

For a woman, a motorcycle (or any other product she's bought into for that matter) is just a vehicle (excuse the pun) for helping her become the woman she wants to be. It's all part of creating a lifestyle she enjoys. If the product is doing that job adequately, then that's fantastic. But if a product can also be attached to a company that is aligning itself with a social issue, then that's even better, because at the end of the day, many women want to know they're doing good in this world, and that means buying into brands that are also doing good. So, if you have a pet charity and are not marketing it to women, you're missing a golden opportunity.

Genevieve Schmitt is the founder of Women Riders Now, a marketing and communications company. Contact her at GSchmitt@womenridersnow.com or via editors@dealernews.com