I’m five foot three inches tall and I wear size small clothing – a women’s small, that is. Judging by the contents of the sales sections of most outdoor clothing shops and websites, that’s a pretty popular size.
Yep, I’m a slimly-built woman of moderate height. I’m super-average, and I’m everywhere. You will have seen me around. I’ve been featured in advertising for just about every product to ever hit the market.
I’m a bit of a big deal in advertising, actually. I’ve been brought in to sell everything from cars and exotic holidays to grocery stores and beer. Basically, if you want to sell something, you photograph me with your product.
Of course, we don’t really understand why that works. I mean, it’s done to appeal to men. Obviously. But the thing is, 85% of all purchasing decisions are made by women. Go figure.
And yet, according to the bike industry, I don’t exist.
Me. The most commonly sought-after celebrity product-endorser known to man. (Not to mention being the other half of the world’s population.)
Oh sure, the bike industry loves to use me to sell cycling kit and bikes. It’s photographed me standing next to some very nice mountain bikes, too. Here, have a look at some of my recent work – that’s me on the right.
I was so excited to be involved in a major advertising campaign for such a big bike brand – it seemed like a major step up from all those lame cruiser and hybrid bike posters the bike industry usually uses me for, and I was hoping this time, I was finally being taken seriously by the bike industry. But now that I’ve seen the finished product, I feel sick.
They didn’t mention the nurse’s uniform until I got to the shoot. It was quite a surprise and, if I’m honest, a real disappointment. But a young guy from the marketing department explained to me that it fit with the angle he was taking with his marketing campaign. He said it was part of a visual pun that played on some of our sport’s common parlance, or something like that.
Well, I thought, at least they’re trying to include women in their marketing. (Though I hope that poor boy gets better at talking to women before he plans his next big bike campaign.)
The real clincher was, I thought I would get to ride that beast of a machine out on the trails after the shoot.
But of course, they didn’t let me ‘get sick’ on anything except that goofy ad, which has now been in what feels like every issue of every mountain bike mag since, like, forever.
And I never did get to demo the bike I was used to sell.
Because, you see, most big mountain bike brands don’t make very many of their top-range bikes in my size. They prefer to focus their energies on pumping out those kinds of bikes to fit a market they think they understand: men. Who apparently ride only medium and large–sized bikes.
That’s a powerful message to send to your distributors and your retail outlets. And believe me, these guys are hearing it.
If a bike shop does stock a serious bike that will fit me (another monumental if), it is unlikely to have the bike made up and ready to go.
The guys in the bike shops say they don’t stock bikes in my size because I don’t buy these kinds of bike. And boy do they really drag their heels about using ‘valuable workshop time’ building one up just so I can take it for a demo ride.
So all those bike shops, and the wider bike industry – they’ve got it right. Well, half right. Because it’s true, I don’t buy many of their big rigs and carbon beasts.
I don’t want to drop a bomb on a bike I can’t ride until after I’ve bought it. That’s not how consumers operate.
I also don’t want to buy anything that has an advertising campaign telling the world that I wouldn’t know what to do with the bike if I had it.
So how about this, bike industry: I will re-direct my spending when you can be bothered selling me a bike.
So call me. You have my number: it’s 85%. Remember?