Sometimes, in their enthusiasm to tell a reporter some interesting news, company owners say things that might be taken the wrong way. I’m wondering if Craig Bramscher of Brammo had one of those interviews. An article appearing in the Wall Street Journal said this:
Women are lining up to test drive and preorder a new sports electric motorcycle from Brammo in greater numbers than is standard in the bike world, according to preliminary data the company is gleaning.
“It’s more aggressive an interest on preorders than in the traditional gas market,” said Brammo’s Chief Executive Craig Bramscher in an interview with VentureWire. “It could be as many as twice as many compared to gas numbers that we’ve seen,” he said, referring to interest from female buyers.
Perception is everything, but after building electric racing motorcycles and making the Empulse a great example of innovative styling and high technology, they were in a pretty good spot to make some inroads into a reluctant market, then they reveal that women are placing a high number of the orders for their bikes. A casual comment like that can tip perception in a direction they may not have intended. There goes the manly man market. Even if women are still a minority of the buyers, if it’s the ladies’ choice, some guys will think twice.
It happens with cars all the time, some cars are just purchased by women far more than men and after a while, the car gets to be known as a ladies car. It’s not always obvious what car that would be, either, until it happens and then you notice the drivers are usually women. With cars, though, it’s different, since women make up roughly the same number of drivers as men, but motorcycles are overwhelmingly (about 9 out of 10) ridden by male riders so going out of your way to bring attention to how many women are buying electrics might create the impression it’s a girl’s bike.
The article also pointed out electrics were attracting women because they were less intimidating, less associated with leather and tattoos. Makes you wonder if the Harley marketing department was just handed a gift. You can see the commercial now, man wanders into electric motorcycle showroom with pleasant elevator music playing in the background, walls painted in pastels, helpful young fellow walks up wondering if he can be of assistance, while burly guy looks at him with a raised eyebrow.
Lots of companies are focusing on women riders these days as the potential growth market in times of sluggish sales, but when you’re starting out with a new type of motorcycle, I wonder if it might be better to win over the men to begin, unless women are your target market. If the women get there first, some guys on the fence might decide to wait. What do you think?
A few additional thoughts: The idea of what women might want to ride has obviously changed over the years. While some think it would be a bike like this, others think it’s terrible if you even consider women a separate market. Some women want to be thought of as completely equal to the men, others want manufacturers to take their needs into consideration and build something unique. The stereotypical bike you might think would be a perfect bike for women might strike them as an awful or even condescending, while something a marketing exec might think is a man’s bike becomes a hit with women. As I said in a previous article, I’ve never been able to figure out women, so I have no opinion.
Link: Wall Street Journal