BY SCOTT HOCHMUTH
Every dealership wants to achieve full potential with all groups of customers and riders. Unfortunately, however, one particular group of riders continues to elude many dealers: women. Although women motorcycle ownership is at an all-time high, women only represent about 15 percent of the current market share. Frustration and failure plague dealerships that employ a “pink it and shrink it” approach to attracting female attention. Stereotyping women into pastel color choices and smaller versions of apparel designed for men is not going to magically pique anyone’s interest. Success with this market segment is going to stem from applying what women want to the motorcycle/powersport industry.
According to Genevieve Schmitt, editor of Women Riders Now, some of what attracts women to riding is being part of a community and engaging in women-only events. Women-only events can appeal to both new and experienced riders, and offering incentives (like a discount off of products or classes) to women who bring a non-riding friend can help boost attendance. Most women who ride do so, at least in part, as a social activity with a partner or group. Where men may ride and enjoy a sense of freedom being a “lone wolf” on the road, women are more prone to see other women riding and think, “I want to do THAT!” Therefore, committing to regularly scheduled events (i.e., meet and greets, rides, informational), seminars (i.e., safety in riding, wearing the correct apparel and equipment), and workshops (i.e., bike maintenance) for women by women (if possible) can certainly help advance dealership growth and success.
Insofar as products for women, some manufacturers are finally beginning to understand that women are not mini-men obsessed with pink! Women are different from men in terms of fit, style, and protection. Hiring women that ride to work in dealerships or to provide feedback to buyers regarding what to order for women can increase interest and sales. Some women favor a tailored fit whereas others like roomy items; some women fancy bling and colors, others prefer plain and neutral. Even though women gravitate toward places that offer a lot of options and wider selections, one aspect that matters most is safety. Many women will forgo fit and style for protection. In general, women riders take training and proper safety equipment more seriously than men.
In closing, when women are treated with respect by sales associates and are offered a good selection of bikes and gear that fit their needs in a welcoming environment, women will buy and budget for what is needed to ensure safety and style.
Scott Hochmuth is the owner of Real Performance Marketing, an Atlanta-based company representing seven different powersports related product lines in the Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee areas. He comes face-to-face with over 200 dealers every 8 weeks. He has been in sales since 1982 and started in the powersports industry in 1989 as a sales representative for a helmet manufacturer.