Ladies, rule the road
For over a century, the motorcycle industry’s positioning has been as an experience provider for men. Decades of masculine stereotypes have confined women to the passenger seat. Lack of trust, obsolete mentalities and poor representation of the modern woman has broken the dialogue between the motorcycle manufacturers and potential women customers.
The Can-Am charge is to democratize the open road. However, women account for only 20 % of riders. Our aim was to start a dialogue with women riders to exceed the industry’s overall representation of our customer base and increase sales to women by 10%.
While marketing for the segment has become more gender inclusive, sales from the women segment have only marginally increased. While digging for an explanation, the analytics team came upon two key influences that perpetuated the problem.
The first is that there are encoded prejudices in our data and systems, any attempt to target inclusively, regardless of gender, would ultimately end up favouring the historical ‘best performer’ of men. Resulting in limited and expensive reach for advertisers trying to convert women in the category.
The second is that creating a safe and judgment-free environment on social media is a challenge. Trolls who thrive on publishing negative and demeaning comments often infiltrate comment boxes. The few times Can-Am had posted content about women motorcycling, it repetitively received comments such as “Bikes are too heavy for a woman” or “It is too dangerous for women to ride on the open road”.
The Creative Solution
The first strategy was to gain control over algorithms and to move away from decision-making platforms based solely on historical data. Can-Am decided it was time to fight the data biases and give women the place they deserve, in the driver’s seat! To do so, we needed to build a new dataset free of bias.
Thus, we created a new social digital safe space for women: The Women of On-Road private Facebook group, a place where they women can exchange ideas, inspire one another and learn how to safely, but freely, ride. And to make sure our safe space was truly safe; all communication channels were monitored by a reaction tracker to create a hate-free environment. For the very first time, women riders controlled the conversation without stereotypes and hatred. This initiative allowed Can-Am to promote equal on-road opportunities for women and start meaningful conversations with North American female riders. It quickly became an invaluable source of insights, unlocking the key messages for the Women of On-Road campaign. This vibrant community helped us gather new data to fight the biases that created barrier-of-entry for them.
There were two phases to our campaign:
1) EDUCATION AND EMPOWERMENT. Addressing the issue of sexism in the world of motorcycle and encouraging tough conversations.
2) PROMOTION OF ON-ROAD EQUALITY. Creating safe motorcycle experiences for North American women riders, providing members with exclusive promotions and improving access to our vehicles for this specific audience.
The Media/Content Amplification Solution
EDUCATION AND EMPOWERMENT.
In March, Rolling Stone Magazine hosted an event called Women Shaping the Future. Josée Perreault, Can-Am’s SVP, was invited to join the group of influential female speakers to launch Women of On-Road.
The safe social group, comprised of 6,000 influential riders, became the heart and soul of this campaign. It brought unique perspectives on the issue of sexism in the male-dominated world of motorcycle. We leveraged the content created for the group to expand our user base. We leveraged the content created for and by the group to expand our user base. With paid social, we reached a large pool of engaged women using lookalike profiles, which helped build a new data set, free of gender bias.
PROMOTION OF ON-ROAD EQUALITY
North American riders can’t hit the road without a license. Statistics show that women are more intimidated by the test than men, so our group provided advice on how to get a licence. In partnership with riding schools, we customized an offer specifically for women. This offer was pushed through paid digital placements leveraging our bias-free new data set. Women who had passed the test were directed to the closest Can-Am dealer for a personalized shopping experience.
To further mobilize the group, we created the 20for20 Challenge on the International Female Ride Day and invited women to collectively ride 20,000 miles. Women rode solo due to the pandemic, but they all came together online and helped improve gender equality on the road.
MAKE IT A GLOBAL SUCCESS
As the program brought a wind of change in North America, we decided to launch an empowering manifesto in Europe. With top learnings in mind, we were prepared to storm in countries that brought our competitors to life. Women who had seen our ads were also invited to join our private group and connect with the mentors. Our impact on the European market helped several women to connect around the world, leading them to talk about their passion, 3-wheel riding; Something the inventor of motorcycle would never have imagined.
The content strategy fuelled by the Women of On-Road safe group reached 3 million future women riders, brought 78% more female users annually on the website and quickly exceeded the initial objective of active community members (+500%).
Women sales increased 15% versus last year, five points above the initial target. Female riders now represent 36% of the Can-Am Ryker ownership, blowing away the 20% average across other manufacturers.
The program contributed to a 58% increase in new women license registrations compared to last year. If anyone needed proof that women were ready to take on the road, here it was.
The most impressive thing is that Can-Am became aware of the biases created by focusing on historical data. It made a formal commitment to fight it, created a fresh set of bias-free data and changed the stereotypes of the motorcycle industry. Can-Am gave women access to the driver’s seat!