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Women, Cars and Money - by John Bell Vice President Ogilvy Public Relations

Published Aug 10th 2006, 5:03pm by

July 15, 2006

Digital Influence Mapping Project

Bank

Okay, not a song title nor cro-magnon wishlist, this is about designing information and services around what is relevant to women. Professional marketers have histroically dissed women in categories where it was common knowledge that men led the decision-making, key influencer, man-holding-the-money-sack so-to-speak. Shopping for and buying cars, for instance. Well today on Typepad, they profiled a blog that is trying to deliver information on car-buying to women. Called Ask Patty, you quickly understand that there is no "Patty" per se. The site is put together by Carsmagazine whose president is, thankfully, a woman:

"Ms. Jody DeVere is President of the “Ask Patty” division of CarsMagazine.com and has more than twenty five years of achievement in sales and marketing leadership including ten years developing web based business solutions across diverse industries. DeVere is currently the President of the Woman’s Automotive Association International, (www.waai.com) the premier women’s organization for women automotive professionals."

Here's how they describe the site:

""Women purchase half of the vehicles sold in the United States each year, spending over $80 billion. Yet, shopping for and buying a car can be a challenge for women who are first time car buyers or for women who had a bad experience in the past with a car salesman or dealership.

The “Ask Patty” blog is a safe place for women to get advice on car purchases, maintenance and other automotive related topics. Women can ask Patty for automotive advice on the Ask Patty blog, Patty will typically reply back to you the same day. Selected questions and answers will be answered by the panel of automotive women experts for the benefit of all women."

There are great questions and profiles of women in the industry. I only wish someone would create the same for men. Yes, I am whining that the alleged sexist slant of the industry is just a horrible all-around customer experience. I am thinking of buying a car and think I might be asking Patty.

Then there's money. Supposedly banking is an experience that has never been too friendly to women. Something to do with the typical profile of banker (male). Our finances are generally managed by Ellen (my wife) including all banking. That is part of some agreement we made years ago about the division of labor in our household (yes, it is unequally divided and for that I am grateful to her).

Springwise reports on a bank experience out of Austria that is specifically designed around the "needs and goals" of women. I am sure that tons of focus groups and research was done to justify this sex segmentation (call it what it is). I originally thought - 'I don't buy it.' Mostly cause I was jealous and bet I would love this experience because someone took the time to think through at least what one-half of the population wanted from a user experience. The other examples they offer are Citibank's Woman&Co and the First Woman Bank in Pakistan. Here's what Citibank says it is trying to respond to (why women have specific financial needs):

Women live longer and run the risk of outliving retirement savings. On average, a female retiring at age 55 can expect to live another 27 years. (U.S. Department of Labor, 2004)
Approximately 50% of women aged 65+ will require some form of long-term care. With the average cost of a private room in a nursing home at $60,000 per year, it's important to be prepared. (Wall Street Journal, 2004;Met Life Inc., 2003)
On average, a woman takes about 12 years "off" to care for children or elderly parents compared with less than 2 years for a man. For women, this translates into smaller pensions and the increased risk of outliving retirement savings. (The Answer Factory, 2003)

Women in the workforce have a median job tenure of 4.4 years. Since most pension plans vest only after 5 years, women often leave retirement dollars on the table every time they change jobs. (Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2003)

It is easy to see in countries like Pakistan and in parts of the globe where women have a different status and very different experience why they would benefit from a tailored experience. It's just as easy to lose sight of the different experiences in the western world that justify a segmented customer experience. (I still think I would like these tailored experiences, too).

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