I’m usually quite a laid back kind of person, but there are certain issues that can really get me going! One of my poor friends inadvertently set me off this week by forwarding me a newsletter that he thought I might be interested in. It started with this picture.

The caption roughly translates as “there are so many things women don’t understand”. It was from a bike dealer advertising a bike maintenance course only for women. Further down it stated “neither a wig or stilettos will give access for men”.

What the heck is that about??? Don’t these guys know ANYTHING about marketing (since the clearly don’t know anything about women)?

Recently there has been quite a lot of press here in Denmark about the increasing numbers of women that are taking up cycling. It seems to me though that most bike dealers have been a bit slow on the uptake……

Granted, the bunch that sent out the newsletter above are ahead of many of their competitors in that:

  1. They have identified women cyclists as a potential market;
  2. Have recognised that women-only events are a good way into this market.

Where it goes badly wrong for them is that they apparently think that women are turned on by school-boy sexist humour…..

I came across much worse last year when I was trying to buy a racer bike. In terms of my personal economy this was a fairly strategic purchase. In my professional life I deal with procurement (purchasing) so I’m in the lucky position of having professional skills I can apply. So to start out with I defined my requirements in terms of function and performance. For me, the technical specifications were not really of interest: or only in so far as they were necessary to deliver on my performance/functional requirements. Without wanting to generalise, I suspect this would be the case for many other women. I know however that for some men (though not all by any means) the technical specifications are the interesting thing (“my gears are better than your gears” so to speak). I had an additional requirement which was to find a dealer where I felt we had a good chemistry and that I could trust them. After all, this would ideally be a long-term relationship where I could use them for ongoing service and support.

So far so good.

Then I started visiting some bike dealers to find out how far they were able to meet my requirements. This is where it started to go badly wrong! In almost all cases they were not able to answer my questions on function/performance. A simple question like “how will I be able to feel the difference on a long ride between this bike and this bike” were met by responses about the specifications of the gears or the brakes or the wheels. In the worst cases they were directly insulting, for example “someone like you won’t be able to notice the difference so you might as well buy the cheapest”.

I am not making this up, this was actually said to me!

I’m sorry guys, but if I am the customer and you are trying to sell me something and we aren’t speaking the same language then it is YOU who is speaking the wrong language – not me!

It all ended well for me. I found a bike dealer in my neighbourhood that speaks exactly my language! Une Une Cycling Universe for Women specialises in selling bikes and cycling equipment to women and also organises women only cycling events.

But not everyone is as lucky as me to have Une Une nearby and anyway, as a consumer I recognise that a bit of competition is only to my advantage.

So come on bike dealers – step up to the mark!