Ladies, Rule the Road!
Decades of masculine stereotypes have confined women to the passenger seat.
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.
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 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:
- EDUCATION AND EMPOWERMENT. Addressing the issue of sexism in the world of motorcycle and encouraging tough conversations.
- 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.
1. 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. We reached a large pool of engaged women using lookalike profiles, which helped build a new data set, free of gender bias.
2. 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 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.
The new strategy achieved its ultimate goal of building a new database free from algorithm bias and social stigma that has been entrenched for over a century.
increase in sales to women
Proportion of women owners of a Ryker vs 19% for the industry
Increase in the enrollment rate of women in driving courses.
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!
Worldwide Marketing Director, Can-Am On-Road