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Webinar: Why Women Are Essential
Last Thursday we hosted a webinar featuring the Gluskin Townley Group's latest research, which pointed to some emerging trends when it comes to how women interact with bike retail.
Women Bike and the League are investing in looking ahead and asking, 'What is the future of the bike movement?' Is it a place where everyone can see themselves? Where diverse needs are met? In the future do men and women show up on the streets and on trails in equal numbers? I hope so. We know that when more people bike, the roads are safer for everyone. For many, biking has an added effect of making one feel more empowered and self reliant. I know this to be especially true in the communities of women riders I encounter.
So why aren’t more women buying bikes? What was interesting to me in the Gluskin Townley Group’s research was this number: 51% of total adult bike riders are now women. This marks a noted departure from historic data, and challenges a lot of conventionally held beliefs within the bike industry.
Pushed to explain that number further, Jay Townley of Gluskin Townley Group noted that you have to look at that number in the context of other data. Despite comprising 51% of all riders, when asked if they are satisfied with the frequency they ride, only 26% of women are satisfied compared to 40% of men. Additionally, even with being 51% of the adult bike riders, women only account for a third of bicycle retail business -- projected to spend $2 billion dollars less than men in 2014. What that says to me is not that women don’t want to ride bikes, or that women aren’t riding bikes. It says that there is huge potential to convert these infrequent riders into lifelong riders, and for local bike shops, lifelong customers.
This number -- 51% -- made me think. How much of what we say about women is true and how much is myth? And how much has the bike retail industry bought into, and continued to sell these myths right back to women?
I was overwhelmed by how well the webinar was attended. It’s an indicator to me of how invested the industry is in seeking out numbers-based solutions. The other thing that got me excited was how interested folks were in continuing the conversation. We have these numbers that indicate a huge potential for growth in women’s bike retail, but what about solutions to capitalize on that potential? How do we fix it? How do we get more women on bikes?
This fall Women Bike is taking data from folks like the Gluskin Townley Group, we are surveying independent bicycle dealers, we are asking women to share their experiences, and are conducting in depth case studies capturing the broad landscape of retail beyond bikes to identify solutions to what seems to be a major barrier for many women. Where should she purchase a bike, and more importantly, how does she have a sales experience that ensures that bike is comfortable and fits her unique needs? Because in the end that’s what keeps people riding.
This women’s retail report will provide independent bicycle dealers of all sizes with practical tools to assist them in better capturing women’s business. It will do this by telling the stories of women’s experience in the traditional bike retail market and layering those stories with hard data.
This report also hopes to provoke some questions about the future of bike retail. Are manufacturers designing enough products to serve the diverse market? Are they designing women’s products equitably to the men’s? How innovative are bicycle dealers being in an evolving market? What role should retail play in the future of the bike movement?
Our surveys for both independent bicycle retailers and women will be available soon. We encourage you to weigh in on this topic and continue this conversation in your circles. Through questioning assumptions, and sharing our successes we can create a network of support encouraging more women to ride by fixing what stops many from even walking through the bike shop door.