Hi. I’m Jan Plessner, the new editor of LadyMoto.com.
Until recently, I was the public relations manager for Kawasaki in Irvine, Calif. I invested a total of 18 exciting years with Kawasaki, with nearly ten years on the safety, government relations and public affairs side of the business. In the beginning, I spent two years with the PR agency and another two years mid-career with the Motorcycle Industry Council conducting mainstream media campaigns and press events.
For me, working in the motorcycle industry has always been more than just a career choice. I love riding motorcycles on the street and in the dirt. Motorcycling defines who I am and keeps my heart beating on a day-to-day basis.
I also deeply care about the health and long-term future of the industry. The past few years have been extremely challenging for all of the motorcycle makers. Yet with few exceptions, the ginormous potential for growth within the women’s market has been neglected. Year after year, I’ve witnessed an industry that has its head down looking for dollars while purses of cash fly just overhead.
I believe it is time for change. In my new role, I believe we can collectively affect a major fundamental and long overdue shift in the way things are to stimulate a sizable growth spurt within our industry.
Early in my career, I heard stories about how years earlier, many of the top execs would gather for their regular association board meeting and inevitably the topic of marketing motorcycles to women would come up.
The storyteller, a witness inside the actual boardroom, described to me in detail how this group of very intelligent, successful and influential men would share their candid thoughts with each other around the table.
“How do we reach the women’s market? Heck, I can’t even communicate with my wife without getting into a heated debate,” declared one.
“Don’t ask me,” said another. “I’m on my third wife and it’s not going well.”
“What do women want? I don’t know. My daughters won’t even talk to me right now,” said another.
It was then the imbalance within the powersports industry hit me square in the face. Back then, men accounted for more than 90 percent of the motorcycle customer base and filled nearly all of the key sales and marketing positions at the major motorcycle companies in the U.S.
With few exceptions since the beginning, motorcycling was perceived primarily as an activity for males. This was no different from other sports or inherently risky activities. I experienced this first hand as a first generation motorcyclist in a non-motorcycle family.
Historically, the growth and success of motorcycling here in the U.S. was almost completely dependent on one slice of the American population: white males between the ages of 18 and 34. Just take a look at where the hundreds of millions of dollars of company advertising funds have been spent.
Fast-forward nearly 25 years. In some ways, our industry has changed significantly. It is exciting. The technology built into the motorcycles of today is incredible. Motorcycle design, performance and the vast assortment of styles, sizes and configurations can make your head spin.
But in other areas, we are long overdue for a major transformation. The most recent industry figures show that 12.6% of new bike purchases are by women and that is an industry all-time high.
It’s not about which gender is better, more important or stronger. It’s about collectively reaching more women with the right information, strategic messages, a clear menu of choices and a long list of opportunities. We need to use tailored communication to inspire and move women to look past their personal laundry list of restraints, excuses and barriers to purchase.
There are 120 million women in the U.S. old enough to vote and purchase a motorcycle. Some of the latest statistics claim American women account for $7 trillion in consumer and business spending, yet more than 90 percent of them do not think companies or advertisers understand them.
LadyMoto.com is taking a stand to bring more women on board, now.
We will use the appropriate tone and delivery to inspire women of all ages. We will motivate women, so they may reinvent themselves and enroll others and the next generation of riders to join the movement.
And as word spreads, more women than ever will discover the infinite possibilities this lifestyle has to offer, whether it’s a solo street bike ride through a twisty canyon or an off-road desert adventure with ten best friends. Or both.