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Bianchi's women ambassadors go beyond the brand to promote cycling

Published September 17, 2018

Editor's note: A version of this story appeared in the Sept. 1 issue of BRAIN.


KILLINGTON, Vt. (BRAIN) — Beyond merely promoting the Italian bike brand, Bianchi's new U.S. women's ambassador program is designed to get more people into the sport — and into bike shops, said Heather Mason, the program's coordinator.

The program, launched this spring, is called the Bianchi Dama Ambassador Team ("dama" is Italian for "lady") and currently includes 25 women of varying ages, locations and cycling experience. Bianchi dealers help Mason identify the members from among their customers.

"What we wanted was people that are influential, excited, happy and super passionate about cycling," Mason said. After recently spending three days in Vermont with several Dama members, as well as some Bianchi dealers, Mason said the dealers "nailed it" with their selections.

The team includes a physician, a chiropractor, a 60-year-old librarian, some college students and more.

The ambassadors receive a Bianchi riding kit and helmet and are offered a 30 percent discount on a new Bianchi through their local shop. In return, Mason said, they are asked to host four events a year, post on social media and "talk about cycling whenever they are out and about."

Bianchi USA's David Reed said, "It's a great chance for Bianchi to get the women involved in the brand. They have always been there, but now they are getting a voice and recognition." Reed is the brand's vice president of marketing and communications.

"We're testing the theory of not using racers or club members," said Mason, who is a former retailer and is Bianchi's factory sales rep in the Northeast. Mason (then Heather Rizzi) also is the former U.S. sales manager for Merckx Cycles. She joined Bianchi early this year.

"For a long time I've thought that our biggest challenges are to get more people on bikes and into bike shops," she said.

She said Bianchi has a strong following among women and the brand works with at least 10 different U.S. shops that are owned or managed by women. They were all invited to the Vermont event and the brand also held a contest to choose a random female cyclist to attend.

In Vermont the Dama group hiked, rode some of the state's famous gaps and had candid conversations about how to accomplish those two goals. The ambassadors brainstormed about events and programs that could encourage ridership, especially among women and children. They discussed group rides to the grocery store or the library with children and parents, ice cream rides, flat-fixing clinics and more.

The group also discussed hosting Bianchi Legacy get-togethers, showcasing the brand's history and inviting locals with vintage Bianchis to attend.

Social media is another key, the group decided. All ambassadors have access to post on the program's Facebook page.

"Individuality and authenticity is key," Mason said. "We want everyone to project their true personal self, even when they are struggling. Being authentic resonates with people."
The ambassadors plan to participate in a variety of group rides and events, including the Bianchi-sponsored Farm to Fork Fondo series, which has eight events in the East. Mason said that at events the Damas are encouraged to be friendly, welcoming ambassadors of the sport — not just Bianchi.

"At the end of the day if we sell a Bianchi that would be awesome. But it's more about selling a love for the sport of cycling," she said.

"The biggest takeaway is that we all need to think outside the box and work with our retailer partners to connect with the community. We feel [Bianchi] can work with our retailers and the ambassadors to reach out to new cyclists and bring them into the store."

Mason said Bianchi has already been surveying its retailers who have ambassadors in their markets. Dealers reported they are already seeing new people come in the door because of the program, she said.


Topics associated with this article: From the Magazine

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