Charisma! Communications offers tips for embracing the power of female autos shoppers online.
Anybody remember the song "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves," a duet by Aretha Franklin and the Eurythmics? Released in 1985, the song was considered a modern feminist anthem. While its strident vocals and hard-pounding beat may seem outdated, its message is perfect to describe the state of online shopping today: when it comes to shopping and buying online, women are blazing the trail and doing it for themselves. An article by Debra Aho Williamson in the April 2005 issue of iMedia drives this point home: "The ratio of females to males in the general population is expected to hold steady at least through 2008, but that won't be the case on the internet. Cultural, societal and internet business trends are combining to shift the balance more firmly toward women."
So what about in the automotive industry? Are we really seeing more women researching, shopping, and buying vehicles online? The answer is yes, and the industry is beginning to take notice. At the recent Association of Automotive Internet Sales Professionals (AAISP) Conference, held by Digital Dealer Magazine in Nashville, speaker Jody Devere of AskPatty.com, a website that offers automotive information and advice for women, coached dealers to see women vehicle shoppers as very different from men vehicle shoppers. Her tips included working to cultivate a relationship with women shoppers, really listening to their wants and needs, and holding off on their hard sell in deference to many womens' disdain for the pressure close.
And it's not just dealers heeding the call. Sites are popping up that cater specifically to women automotive shoppers, representing a big opportunity for automotive marketers and advertisers.
If you want to expose your clients' businesses to more women shoppers, I have a few suggestions for what to look for in a website:
Websites dedicated to women shoppers
Two companies in the space figured out early that women were an online force and dedicated their businesses to meeting the needs of online women vehicle shoppers. Ask Patty.com bills its website as a safe place for women to get advice on car purchases, maintenance and other automotive-related topics. They also run an Ask Patty Certified Dealer Program, where dealerships are trained to attract, sell, and retain loyal women consumers. Stating that "women purchase half of the vehicles sold in the United States each year," Ask Patty has found a niche and is filling it well. The website has garnered much attention in the industry, and its blog, where women ask and answer vehicle questions, is humming. Advertising on a site like this is a great way to attract the female attention you crave.
CarTango.com, while still in the launch phase, is another company dedicated to women vehicle buyers. With the goal of acting as a conduit between vehicle dealers and women shoppers, the site offers search and Build-A-Car tools, and promises to connect women buyers with female-friendly dealers. Its' interactive elements and female-friendly features should appeal to women, making it a good bet for advertising. Look for this site to go live later this year.
Research other industries that appeal to women
There are a ton of websites out there with the goal of appealing predominately to women; do some research on what they offer, than look for sites in the automotive space that offer the same. Even eBay can offer inspiration. When you search eBay for clothes or accessories, you can easily choose to look at only dresses, or shoes, or handbags. Then you can further narrow down your search to specific colors, sizes or brand names.
Look for this type of search capability when determining where to find women buyers. Many people see a vehicle they like, but they don't know what make or model it is, or how to search for it. With a search by category, color, or type (SUV, convertible, et cetera) feature on a purchasing website, the customer only has to know what vehicle they like and search from there. One site that offers up an easy way to search by category of vehicle (such as van, SUV, et cetera) is Edmunds.
The internet isn't going anywhere, and neither are women, so it would behoove the automotive industry to pay attention to this powerful group of online shoppers. There are a lot of websites popping up in the automotive industry that focus solely on women, sites like AskPatty and CarTango. If you want to expose your clients' businesses to more female eyes, look to advertise on websites that market directly to women and help them shop in the way they prefer.