It’s not controversial to say that the bicycle industry has been historically male oriented, sometimes intimidating and alienating towards women. And yet more and more females around the world are riding bikes, of all categories and price points.
From the outmoded practice of using podium girls at bike races; to unimaginative female-targeted advertising featuring clichéd images of butterflies and flowers (or worse, where women’s bodies continue to be an object to titillate); tokenistic ‘pink’ women’s sections and the latent (and often overt) sexism all too often on display from bike shop staff; we haven’t put our best foot forward in terms of attracting the women’s cycling dollar.
That aside, the bike industry has at least woken up to the fact that growing the spend from women, beyond the traditional kids bikes, baskets and spongy saddles, is not just important; it’s critical.
The most recent Australian Bike Industry report highlights that not only do females make up 53% of our population, but crucially, they control 80% of all Australian household budgets and up to 95% of lower economic household budgets. In effect, they are the gatekeepers of spending decisions and this is no less the case in bike stores. But it’s a mistake to see women as mere influencers on purchasing decisions of their partners and children; women are of course active, serious and valuable cycling consumers in their own right.
In response, 58% of Australian bike shops now have female specific displays in their stores and 17% have run female specific promotions in the previous 12 months1. Market leading bike companies like Specialized, Trek and Giant, have to their great credit, also meaningfully invested in their women’s ranges, marketing and customer activations for many years now.
Putting that aside though, the majority of women’s sections in a bike shop typically lack one crucial thing;
I don’t mean women customers. I mean female staff.
If you seriously want to connect, communicate, understand and sell to women; employ women on your sales floor and in your workshops. Just 15% of staff in the bicycle retail industry are female, and the majority of those are employed in administrative roles. The same goes for distributors. Whilst we are seeing a few more female brand managers and sales reps, these roles are still disproportionately male dominated. And we can and should extend that to senior management.
I know for a fact there are exceptions amongst the more progressive retailers, distributors and brands in the bicycle industry; but they are still seriously in the minority.
You already stock and range more women’s relevant cycling products than you probably realise; they’re called pumps, locks, lights, tyres, tubes, tools etc. They don’t need to be pink, made for smaller hands or for wider sit bones, to be cycling products that women use. So, in effect, you already have a significant and compelling women’s range in your store.
But the biggest and best investment you can make to seriously attract women’s spend in your cycling business (retail or wholesale), is women themselves.
 Bicycle Industry Australia Survey Report – Wholesale (2013/14)
 Bicycle Industry Australia Survey Report – Retail (2013/14)