After blogging about “the female economy” as the world’s biggest untapped market opportunity, I’ve been on the lookout for evidence that companies and brands are marketing specifically to women. I’ve seen a couple of examples recently, an encouraging sign.
Both offers focus on helping women overcome the gaps in our understanding of mechanics – things most fathers don’t teach their daughters. Both examples are post-sales service offers; one will immediately drive incremental revenues (via auto repairs), which I understand is one of the higher-margin aspects of the auto industry.
Tactics for Local Markets
The two examples I’ve seen most recently target women in local markets.
- Bikes: My local bike shop offered a special clinic to teach women cyclists basic roadside repairs (tire patching, cable fixes, etc.). My secret has been to rely upon the gallantry of male cyclists to help me patch tires when cycling by myself. But it would be less embarrassing to know how to make simple repairs myself.
- Cars: A BMW dealer in Massachusetts is offering a “women’s only tech session” this weekend, focused on diagnostics and explanations. This will undoubtedly drive up service revenues and also potentially sell branded accessories.
The idea of educating women about what’s involved in maintaining our cars and bikes is probably very sound. Many women treat their cars like “black boxes,” so who knows how many undiagnosed problems are lurking, just waiting to strand moms when they’re already late for daycare pick-up.
What’s under the hood has always been a mystery, so I rely on my car’s on-board diagnostic computer to alert me when it needs service. I also pay attention to obvious signals like rough starts or unusual noises… As for my road bike, I can put the chain back on the dérailleur on the rare occasions when it falls off, but that’s about it.
If the offers had been delivered in way that seemed like they’d be fun, I might have tried one (if not for my schedule conflicts).
Sponsoring women-only clinics may also help with sensitivity training for the salespeople who work in the dealerships. I know I’ve often felt invisible when walking into a dealer’s showroom, for bikes or cars… It’s a humiliating experience – especially when I’m the buyer.
BMW Example: Good Idea, but Execution…?
The execution of this tactic by the BMW field marketing team in Massachusetts leaves something to be desired. For example, the email address is mine, but the personalized message is addressed to my husband, who is neither female nor the car owner.
Moreover, the copywriting is probably a bit off-target for a female audience. What the heck is “the DIS/Modic Computer/GT1?” Is it a chip in my electronic key, or a device at the shop?
I’m not sure I really care – but do appreciate the fact that BMW maintains a log of fault codes that helps them determine what aspects of my car need servicing.
Improving the Execution
The visual design of the email has a nuts-and-bolts industrial feel – probably not too appealing to most women. But at least the designer didn’t fall into the trap of using pink.
If BMW is going to take this women-only tech clinic tactic to other markets, they should rethink their execution. Among other things it might be a good idea for their brand team to work with the field marketing team on a visual language that’s true to the BMW brand while being more compelling to women if we’re the primary audience…
They also missed the opportunity for women to reply with a “good idea, but I have a schedule conflict. Can I go at a later date?”