Gear Up – A Way Of Life


[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he MIC’s new “Gear Up” launch is not a campaign – it’s the beginning of a movement! Not your average preachy public service messaging, this program is intended to reach out to the industry and riders alike with the goal of “self-improving” your level of gear selection… and reminding you to wear it every time you ride. It isn’t the first time the industry has attempted something like this (ATGATT anyone?), but it is the best approach to positive reinforcement we have ever had.

Rather than just preaching to the choir, Gear Up is demonstrative and interactive like Nike’s “Just Do It” message. Like the Nike tagline, Gear Up speaks to your spirit instead of your logic. Feel it, don’t think it. Interpret “gear” as you choose (helmets, body armor, eye protection, etc.) but consider doing a better and more complete job of it for your own benefit. If you are a dealer, gearing up your customers to improved levels will bring more profits… and deliver the bonus results of happier, more comfortably protected customers.

Have you ever ridden in “bad” gear? Of course you have! The experience inspires one to “gear up” or quit riding altogether, doesn’t it? How many would-be customers never came back to your store because their initial experiences on a bike were horrible? How many girlfriends lost interest in riding behind their boyfriends because they were given some stinky, ill-fitting hand-me-down gear?

Remember specifically what was “bad” about those early experiences? The non-ventilated jacket with the parachute effect? The incessant flapping collar? Cold feet in non-membraned boots? The too-short jacket sucking cold air down the back of your pants? Finger seams busting out of your gloves? Of course, who can forget the proverbial wet crotch in a rainstorm… giving way to knee-shivers so severe you think you’re going to squeeze dents in the gas tank. It was horrible, but we were young, adventurous and without mentors.

Ignorance is bliss, but as we began riding more, we all eventually learned the benefits of better gear. Looking to the pro riders in our identified niche of motorcycling helped us understand the benefits of leather, waxed cotton, vented jerseys, Jofa mouthguards, Gore-Tex, hockey armor, double nylon stitching and sealed seams. If the fast guys wear it, it must be good for me too, thus the beginning of celebrity racer endorsements. The two biggest incentives for the older generations to “invest” in gearing up were, in the words of Ricardo Montalbán, “to look good” and “to feel good.” That confidence made us better… and faster if you were a racer.

Can you assist your customers “Gear Up” better? Sometimes pushing them to buy more gear… or buy better backfires making your staff look like pushy sales people. Consider a more advisory role in your sales pitches to enlighten customers about how “gearing down” really detracts from the riding experience. The “after” picture in a diet ad means nothing without the “before” picture acting as a reference point, right? Wouldn’t it help for your customers to more clearly envision the miserable riding experience by not having proper (or better) gear?

How can you show your customers the light without pushing them off a cliff? Fair weather riders, naturally can get away with less gear, yet “gearing up” in quality gear would still improve the ride. It’s not all about temperature control – it’s also about better fit, improved function, convenience and of course, style. Looking like the doofus in the group doesn’t add to a rider’s self-esteem, does it? And being equipped with gear that never fails in the field is a requirement of a dedicated rider. Curse the broken jacket zipper 400 miles from home. You won’t see a mountain climber or a SCUBA diver with cheap gear…Why should a motorcyclist be any different?

In the 1980’s I launched  some very successful ad campaigns for Hein Gericke, which pointed out what appeared to us in the industry as obvious. Oddly enough, we realized after some market research by Intersport Fashions West these truths were not at all obvious to customers. Our “Would You Buy a Cheap Parachute” headline promoted better quality leather, better stitching and workmanship… all to build a better rider. It worked extremely well in a world newly flooded with the super-cheap leather from Pakistan.

Then there was Hein Gericke’s version of the “diet ad” positioning the ill-equipped geek vs. stylish V-Pilot Man – this concept blew sales through the roof. Like I said, this is not the first time the industry has attempted to reinforce a positive message, but Gear Up is the best approach I have seen in the past 30+ years! Are you doing your best to “show” your customers the difference gearing up will make in their riding life? Go to www.gearupeveryride.com.

Uniform AttractionCC_Bell-Helmet-girl
Isn’t it funny how riders in our industry pick a “look” and stick with it? It becomes part of their personality. Perhaps it’s a sense of belonging to a specific family of riders, or maybe it is purely functionality… Or it’s a sense of style. No matter the reason, we tend to “uniform” ourselves in categories of gear. Once customers pick their “look” they pick a pricepoint somewhere between uber-premium and super-cheap. The middle price point these days is a very crowded place, so the differentiators at the spectrum’s extremes seem to be the larger, flamboyant advertisers or the more humble chainstore house brands.

We all want to be individuals by riding motorcycles, but interestingly enough we all end up looking the same. Never-never dating terms and distributor-friendly stock rotation seems to place more of those brands everywhere inside the traditional powersports store. For the Boomer looking at off brands, he will need to often resort to online searching and purchase. Now, the younger generations who are more tech-savvy are discovering more information and selection online. Look for the “uniform” looks of our classic niches to diversify soon as smaller brands begin to penetrate the traditional distributor-controlled market.

So what is your customer’s uniform? Identify it, stock it and sell it… Just get them to Gear Up!

Cruiser Rider = Rebellious Uniform (chaps, vest, doo-rag)

ADV Rider = Gadget’d Uniform; (pockets, hydration hose, backpack)

Sportbike Rider = Speedy Uniform; (full leathers, hump back, knee sliders)

Motocross Rider = Overly Coordinated Uniform (team colors/sponsors head-to-toe)

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