The new face of riding, if Can-Am has anything to say about it.
Making Way for a New Generation of Riders
There is no doubt that Can-Am’s on-road fleet is designed to overcome traditional barriers to riding. Both the Spyder and the Ryker have created easily accessible opportunities for ridership where none previously existed.
When Women Lead
Josée Perreault, Senior Vice-President of Can-Am On-Road, explains the vision behind the Women’s Mentorship Program, launched earlier this year.
“I’ve always been a firm believer that women need to be a significant part of our on-road strategy. There aren’t enough women riding. It’s a male-dominated sport and that needs to change. So together with our agencies, we challenged ourselves to see how to best approach this. And then last fall a light turned on and we built the general idea behind the Women’s Mentorship Program as we know it.”
Timing is Everything
One of Can-Am’s biggest questions about how to make the program successful was around launch timing. Pre-COVID, everyone had agreed that March was perfect. Little did they know that the world would come to a screeching halt at the same time as the planned launch.
“As COVID took over our lives in March and April, we did hit the pause button for a bit. But then we determined that we didn’t have to stop the conversation with women about riding. The world was going virtual, and this program could be launched and managed virtually as well,” said Josée.
Quick on the Uptake
Phase 1 of the program was revamped thanks to a dedicated marketing team and the cooperation of 8 official mentors – all who represent a different demographic of riders and act as role models within their specific genres.
Evelyne Plante, Can-Am On-Road Marketing Coordinator, broke down the critical role of the official mentors. “To participate and guide the women with social posts, videos and group engagements. Our mentors were key players for the awareness of the program through their own social channels.”
Against all odds, Can-Am launched the Women’s Mentorship Program during the global pandemic. During this “connection-focused” phase, Can-Am activated the Women of On-Road Facebook group on April 23rd, 2020.
Just 4 months after the launch, the private Facebook group has 5.7K members and is the #1 Can-Am On-Road women community on Facebook.
When Roadblocks Become Launch Ramps
Josée weighed-in on adapting the program to COVID-19 protocols almost overnight, and the surprising advantages that emerged.
“In retrospect, the fact that we started the conversation early through our mentors got lots of women thinking about riding and getting their license. We currently receive more than 600 comments each day in our Facebook group, and half the women who’ve signed up for the group have already signed up to get their license,” said Josée.
The leadership at Can-Am believed so strongly in the program that they took a chance to open it up to women regardless of the circumstances, and it’s worked out extremely well, surpassing initial expectations.
“Everyone needs an escape, a dream, a goal, or a project to hold onto during the pandemic, and we’re happy to know that we’re helping to facilitate that,” said Josée.
Prepping New Riders for Success using “Roll Models”
As for the success of the program regardless of its virtual adaptation, Josée believes that the mentorship aspect is what has helped drive more women to ask questions, consider riding, and sign up for training – more than ever before in Can-Am’s history.
Phase 2 of the program focused on educating and preparing women to take training.
Josée says, “We are living in a COVID-driven virtual world where people have more free time to pursue passions, and we’ve been able to reach and engage more women because of that. I still believe strongly in in-person mentorship, but it’s simply not as readily available in our “new normal.” We saw through our mentors’ content and interaction with the group that we really were answering very pointed needs and questions in a safe, non-intimidating environment. That’s been critical.”
Sweetening the Deal
Can-Am also offered, to all women in the US, the three-wheel riding course at just $50 (value of $300) to facilitate accessibility throughout the month of July.
This season, 65% of the Rider Education program registrations are women. That’s a 20% increase from last year.
Riding Towards the Future
Now that the program has proven successful, Can-Am is even more committed to supporting these new women riders, as well as evolving the program as in-person experiences become available once more.
Josée explains what that future support might look like.
“In addition to amplifying the experience for our mentors and participants, we have a couple of things in mind. First is looking deeper into getting more female instructors at our schools. And second is looking into how we can work more closely with our dealership network to become more involved in the mentorship program. We are getting a ton of feedback through our Facebook group, and there is a lot of great insight to help us plan for the next few years. We know we’re onto something powerful here!”
The program currently aims to keep the conversation going, working closely with the official mentors to stay relevant as the world continues to evolve. Can-Am is focused on being a force in female riding for years to come, where women’s voices stand strong.
“The more we see women riding, the more women will want to ride. The snowball effect is real!” says Josée. Can-Am’s goal, with the help of the mentorship program, is to grow from 32% to 40% female ownership.
The Power of 20%
Phase 3 of the Women’s Mentorship Program was launched on August 22, both celebrating and supporting International Female Ride Day, with the 20 FOR 20 CHALLENGE. “We have exciting new projects that will encourage women to experience the open-road! This year, we’re not just celebrating the women who ride. We’re owning the road and encouraging every woman to experience the thrill of riding.
We’re showing the world the power of 20%!” says Evelyne.
20 for 20 is a virtual rally held to celebrate all women in the riding community and encourage new riders to get on the road. Since the rally is virtual, women from around the world can take part wherever they are. The goal is to collectively ride 20,000 miles to represent the 20% of all riders that identify as women. Once we reach our goal of 20,000 miles, Can-Am will celebrate by making it even easier for more women to join the riding community. Participants can fill out this online form to submit their miles.
With a proven track record and an unprecedented program built to support women, Can-Am is truly ‘Changing the Face of Riding’ one new rider at a time.