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Pink car parking spaces for women – sexist, or potentially a valuable product?

Posted 31 July 2015, Australia

Frankfurt Airport’s women’s car parking spaces have caused quite the fuss this week, with some commentators wondering if the wider, bright-pink spaces are considered sexist.

Whilst the rules that insist the airport provides these spaces are quite old, (the airport has to allocate 5% of their spaces to women by law), the concept and need for these spaces is actually quite a compelling one.

Firstly, segmenting car parking products effectively, to attract the various different customers that use the parking spaces, is fundamental to increasing yields and occupancy. Secondly, understanding what those segments want, and how to market them, is the car parking commercial manager’s brain food. 

Common customer types include the “frequent flyer” businessman (or woman of course!), the value-saving family, the technology-savvy and the weekend couple. Depending on the make-up of these customer types, car park managers create products such as valet parking, early booking discounted products, and exclusive VIP sections. It is becoming increasingly easy to create and manage this range of products with emerging technologies.

The female business traveller is a valid segment, and there is an argument that Frankfurt are not that wide of the mark with what they have offered the customer. Perhaps the wide bays (which in fairness to the airport, are probably targeting families) infer that women can’t park, and this aspect could be reviewed. However, the extra lighting, and the use of colour to highlight the spaces; these factors I do like. The easy recognition of the spaces helps with the convenience of the offering, and suggestively stops other people (well…men!) going in those spaces. Having quirky elements like this in the age of social media and sharing, can be an extremely valid way to drive additional word-of-mouth advertising for the airport.

There are other great features that could be added to this product – an emergency car start service, or a discount via an affiliate/referral scheme for example, would add even greater value and help to tailor specific parking needs to different customer types. Simply having the space guaranteed in advance so that a customer isn’t driving around searching for too long, can also definitely be valuable.

So, is having female only parking spaces sexist? Perhaps not, if like any product tailored for a specific target group, the purpose is to distinguish the space, using colour, and the whole product wrapped around the single sex space offering, adds value to the group it is targeting.