INDUSTRY OPINIONS: Is the trade neglecting half of its customers? - BikeBiz

INDUSTRY OPINIONS: Is the trade neglecting half of its customers?

According to the last census, women outnumber men in the UK at over 30 million. Is the bicycle trade doing enough to appeal to this huge potential market? Is the right kind of female-specific product available to retailers? Jonathon Harker asks the questions...
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As an industry we are massively behind the marketing curve in all aspects: product development, retail, communication at POS and merchandising to communicate with and attract the female market. The industry does not do or try enough to manage female customers.

The potential of the female cyclist market is huge and great success can be realised with investment and education in conjunction with a far greater quality of marketing and products – not just communication of products.

Supported by Transport for London’s drive to promote cycling, the bspoke team has designed a clothing collection to encourage cycling in the capital. Specifically cut and designed to attract women who love cycling or for women who would like to get into cycling for leisure or commuting, the collection (www.bspoke.cc) is available to buy from stockists nationwide with accessories following later in the year.
Richard Allmark, CEO, Fisher Outdoor Leisure

There can always be more done to encourage cycling – this is true when targeting either men or women.

But let’s face it – most brands within the cycling industry work on ‘speed, power, performance’, and these values don’t always encourage brand loyalty for women, particularly if they are entering the industry. Knog, while marketing its products as ‘sexy, urban, cycle’, aims to provide women with an alternative to the everyday ‘go fast cycling accessories’. A great example is our lights range – we make everything in a range of great colours – and interestingly, pink, lilac and baby blue are some of our best selling colours. Go girls!

So... I'm all for balance. Let’s encourage the other cycle brands to provide the women with as many options as men have. I’d say it’s about time!
Hugo Davidson, CEO, Knog

Over the last couple of years sales of our ladies bikes have grown substantially and we are selling more at higher retails. Recently we have run forums with key dealers to help us develop our new ranges using direct feedback on specification, build and buying trends.

It is obvious that the female rider is more informed with strong opinions, and we have worked hard on the geometry and component packages so that we deliver a better product. One that is right for the female build –not just a smaller gents bike. A strong brand like Raleigh gives the end user reassurances that the bike is fit for purpose and this year we have given all of our female bikes a fresh modern look.
Neal Holdsworth, Product Director, Raleigh UK

Zyro is committed to bringing more women’s-specific product to market. We run a workforce of
70, almost 20 per cent of which is made up of women, and 10 of the 14 department managers are also women. In addition, eight of our 22 distributed brands comprise women’s-specific ranges. Half of the Altura Design and Development Department are women, responsible for designing the next look and colour palette to appeal to women of all ages and cycling disciplines.

Having seen a large growth in women’s clothing sales in all categories Altura’s women’s range is expanding. We sponsor the all-women Altura-Patterson Road/MTB team, who are core in the development and testing of Altura’s women’s range.
Julie Ellison, MD, Zyro

It’s a startling fact that 79 per cent of British women do not cycle at all, despite 43 per cent having access to a bike. In a Sustrans-commissioned BMRB survey, women revealed that safety is a top concern, which must be addressed to encourage more women onto their bikes.

Bike confidence is partly influenced by how women look and feel, but bike gear can baffle beginners in traditional bike shops. Stylish and affordable cycle-wear and accessories for women are now entering the High Street – including at Topshop’s Oxford Street store – so perhaps the cycling industry needs to take another look at how it caters for women. Sustrans would like to share its thoughts with the bike trade, so get in touch if you’re interested.

Women are most often family decision makers so helping them develop a positive view of cycling is vital if they are to feel comfortable allowing their children to travel by bike. Our website www.bikebelles.org.uk has advice for women on how to get started and a specially recruited women’s panel are sharing ideas and experiences.
Melissa Henry, Sustrans Communications Director

Women’s cycling is definitely on the increase across all product types, partly due to increased cycling coverage, with Vicky Pendleton and Rachel Atherton now household names. As an industry we need to capitalise on this trend with more column inches and product reviews given over to women’s cycling by the cycling press. There are many magazines out there but none cover women’s cycling in-depth, which would also encourage distributors to contribute more.
Geoff Giddings, Marketing Manager, Raleigh UK

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