Your wife called, she said this ad is exclusionary

Two weeks ago while driving through my suburb of Minneapolis, I passed the local bicycle shop. I’ve spent money there before, mostly tuning up a Trek bike I’ve had for 8.5 years, and I am signed up to be notified about their ride events (someday I will have a free weekend and attend).

As I looked at the marquee, I couldn’t help but be annoyed and disappointed, as it read: “Your wife called, she said buy any bike you want!”

For someone who has biked 30-mile rides and whose husband asked to turn around three miles into a ride together, this was so frustrating. My husband doesn’t spend money there – I do. Maybe he called to say I could buy whatever I wanted! (As if I’d ask for his permission anyway) And I can’t be alone – sources say 43 percent of bicyclists are women.

These ads do a great job serving your existing male customer base, but for every guy who thinks it’s funny, there is a future female customer who thinks it is exclusionary and now feels unwelcome in your dealership.

In our 2017 Market Data Book, we outline the demographics of boat buyers thanks to information from AVALA Marketing. Its report says 91 percent of boat buyers are male and 9 percent are female. One could argue this is simply because women aren’t interested in boating, but from my experience this isn’t true, or it’s too simplified of an answer.

Senior editor Liz Keener forwarded me an email from a powersports dealership, as she is also senior editor of Powersports Business, where the subject line read “Your spouse called, they said it’s okay…” The same cute message is conveyed, but it’s significantly more inviting.

Marketing alone won’t solve the industry’s problems in attracting more female buyers, but the marketing doesn’t need to make it worse, either.

If you’re looking to sell to the same people you’ve always sold to, feel free to use the “Your wife called” message ad nauseum. If you want to actually grow your business, you should probably stop using it.

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