As a marketing to women specialist, I’ve seen many assumptions brands make about women — and their subsequent failures of those efforts. Many myths surround women’s affinity for pink, wanting women-only events and inherent feminine weaknesses.
Women LOVE Pink with Everything
Honestly, some women do love pink, while others swear they’ll never be caught dead in it. A decade ago, the book “Don’t Think Pink” alerted brands to pitfalls of just using pink to market to women. Sometimes when a brand first reaches out to women, they produce a pink version of a current product. If it sells like crazy, does that mean all female customers love pink? Nope.
A few years ago, a woman told me, “I didn’t buy pink gloves because I wanted pink. They were the only non-black option and I wanted to show guys I was a girl when riding.” And I’ll never forget my friend who added pink pin-striping to the wheels of her black motorcycle because she was tired of guys asking if it was her boyfriend’s bike.
That said, pink does sell to a certain psychographic, usually the “girlie girl” instead of the “tomboy” type. In addition, companies have sold billions of pink items related to breast cancer campaigns, since so many women—and their friends/family—have been affected by it. So, don’t eliminate pink from your marketing efforts, just ensure it’s not the only color associated with your female audience.
All Women Want Women-Only
I’ve been asked many times about the “need” for women-only classes or events. It’s true that some women do prefer learning and socializing in an environment with more estrogen than testosterone. They feel it’s less intimidating and can be more collaborative. But not all women want women-only. And most likely, they don’t want it ALL of the time.
As I mentioned in Taming Your Lioness, a woman at Sturgis chastised me for telling women they needed something different than men. If you offer women-only classes, market them with a quote from a past participant who explains why she preferred that class. Then, it’s her words, not yours. Women who relate to that type of environment will be more likely to sign up and participate in women-only activities. You can also offer both Ladies Nights and Men’s Nights to show gender equality.
Weak Women are the Norm
First, what does “weak” really mean? Physically, women are stronger than ever. We’ve come a long way since Jazzercise took over gyms in the ‘70s. Now, women account for more than half of all runners, with an impressive 61 percent of half-marathon finishers being female, according to these Running USA's statistics.
On the mental side, unfortunately women can be their own worst enemies. In The Confidence Gap, the authors state, “Compared with men, women don’t consider themselves as ready for promotions, they predict they’ll do worse on tests, and they generally underestimate their abilities.” Sad, but sometimes true.
To counteract this, show other women who’ve successfully learned how to handle a motorcycle, powerful watercraft or big ATV. A friend gave me a plaque that hangs in my office, “She believed she could, so she did.” Put that quote alongside a photo of a petite, older female customer on a touring bike — someone that would make her say, “If she can do it, so can I!” Hang the sign in your dealership and encourage sharing the photo and quote via social media and email avenues.
The bottom line with these three fibs is that you can’t use just one color, message, or attitude for all women. Talk with your current customers, and do research on prospective ones, to learn what’s most relatable in your region.
A rider for 25 years, Leslie spent 15 years with Harley-Davidson (three retail, 12 corporate) and created their marketing to women role in 2007. She spearheaded Women Riders Month and a Garage Party Campaign which drove 25,000 women to dealers. After two years at Trek Bicycles, Leslie now helps companies be strategic with their marketing.