Turning the male-centered marketing model on its head
One of the things we’d like to do is highlight examples of companies who are doing the right things to reach women. And some of these companies might be a little unexpected. This is one.
Check out www.harley-davidson.com. That’s right, the home of every boy’s fantasy of straddling a roaring engine between their legs is now extending a leather-gloved hand out to women.
According to the company, motorcycle sales to women have rocketed from 2 percent of sales in 1985 to 10 percent in 2003, when women purchased 23,000 bikes.
The new section on their web site, called Time to Ride, features four areas – Why Women Ride, Riding Stories, Learning to Ride, and the History of Female Riders. In the Why Women Ride area, Harley says it’s all about adventure, camaraderie and freedom. Spot on, Harley. The most popular form of travel for women right now is adventure travel, especially for Baby Boomers, Harley’s sweet spot. Camaraderie? Women value connections and there’s almost no one who’s succeeded in building more relationships around a brand than H.O.G., the Harley Owners Group. Harley’s made sure that there are plenty of stories from other women on the site. Women can even submit their own stories and join the Harley community before they ever buy a bike. And finally, freedom. With all the demands on women today, who isn’t looking for a few moments of precious “me” time?
So this made us curious. How are these reasons to ride different for women than for men? We found the answer on Harley’s web site. Adventure, freedom and friendship were also mentioned for men, but so was this: “The flowing curves of the fenders, the smooth lines of the fuel tank…the visual muscle of a big V-Twin engine…and, of course, the sound.”
Think women care about the visual muscle of a big V-Twin engine? Probably not. But women will care about how easy it is to ride the bike. Earlier this year, Harley had the foresight to make slight mechanical changes in all four of its Sportster bikes including lower seats, smaller hand grips, and easier-to-pull clutch levers that make them more female-friendly. When you’re marketing to women, the product must fulfill the promise or trust us, you won’t be the only one hearing about it. She’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and you know the rest.
A great example of the differences in communicating with men and women. And there are plenty. Stay tuned.