The automotive gender balance tipped in 2012, the first year during which at least 51 percent of American drivers were female.
This is according to a recent Frost & Sullivan study that shows women are dominating the automotive marketplace, becoming a more influential consumer segment than men.
Women control the automotive marketplace.
According to Ketchum research on marketing to women, ladies control $3.3 trillion in consumer spending, are responsible for 80% of household buying, control more than 50% of the wealth in the U.S., and make 62% of all car purchases. Not only does she influence the buying process approximately 80% of the time, but usually, the woman is the one who will take the family car in for service. And with a majority of licensed drivers now being female, it’s no surprise that such manufacturers as Fiat, Ford, and Volkswagen are targeting new vehicle models specifically to female buyers. The irony here is that, according to Frost & Sullivan analysts, 74 percent of women feel they’re misunderstood by car manufacturers.
It’s been said that women would rather undergo a root canal than negotiate to buy a car. Ask any woman you know, and she’s likely to agree. Meanwhile statistics published in the “American Economic Review” show that, on average, women end up paying $1,000 more than men for the same car, simply because men are more likely to haggle for a deal.
Women are far more independent today than they were in previous generations.
Women marry later (or choose not to marry), buy homes and negotiate the price alone, raise children by themselves...but still bring a man along to help when it’s time to buy a car.
That’s because men see negotiation as a battle; for women, it’s more about the relationship. She may not negotiate as much because she’s made a relationship. According to Jody DeVere, CEO of AskPatty.com, “The experience of buying is more important than the transaction itself. Price is a factor to women, but they’ll pay more for reliability, high quality, and excellent service.”
DeVere explains, “Women do a lot of research on products before they go out and look. They ask lots of questions before they make a decision to buy. And if the experience is not positive, she will quickly leave and go elsewhere to buy what she’s looking for.” She’ll also reach to social media to tell her peers about her experience. If the experience is very positive women, will be loyal repeat customers and tell all their friends.
"As women become the dominant car buying segment, auto makers and suppliers need to change their product development strategy," advises Olivia Walker, Frost & Sullivan Visionary Innovation Senior Consultant. "The rise of the female car purchaser is impacting OEM strategy and broadening some car categories. We believe OEMs will win by developing products and strategies that are directed at women."
So, how can manufacturers make their vehicles more appealing to women?
Dealerships should be concerned about their presentation. Showrooms should be comfortable, with a place for kids to play safely during the purchase process and while waiting for service. (Some dealerships have video cameras so parents can see what their kids are doing in the play areas while they complete the buying process.) According to Walker, “Women are frustrated by service and aftersales because they don’t speak the language.” Service departments should ensure female customers have comfortable to access to Wi-Fi while waiting for a car to be repaired, and clean bathrooms with changing tables for moms.
According to Frost & Sullivan analysis, dealers, car brokers, leasing companies, and insurers will win competitive advantage by marketing specifically to women.
In Japan, Nissan is courting women customers with “Lady First” dealerships. Boasting female sales staff and mechanics, and featuring comfortable showrooms intended to make the shopping experience more welcoming, Nissan is planning to open more than 300 of these women-focused dealerships in Japan, and may even take the concept global.
Domestically, Porsche is targeting women buyers with brand ambassador Maria Sharapova to promote its new Macan small crossover. General Motors has begun implementing women into its lifestyle advertising imagery for the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck and 4G WiFi availability in vehicles across the brand. And Lincoln has created a variety of advertising campaigns featuring Matthew McConnaughey to promote its new MKC luxury crossover.