Why is the Auto Industry Leaving Women Behind?

September 24, 2019


You’re sitting in front of your TV and a commercial comes on.

Scratch that.

You’re watching YouTube videos on your phone trying to learn how to mince garlic like a 19th-century Italian chef.

An ad for a new car interrupts your Top Chef fantasy. Where does the ad take place? What color is the car? What information does the announcer intone? Who’s driving?

For decades, automotive marketing has featured red or neutral-colored cars piloted by men, traipsing through well-lit cityscapes or rural mountain roads while horsepower figures and technological options flash across the screen. Not to mention branding’s heavy and ever-present hand, with logos and vehicle model names emphasized throughout.

Given all that, one would be forgiven if they failed to realize that 85% of buying decisions are made by…women. Furthermore, over 62% of new car purchases in the U.S. are made by women. Plus, as recently as 2017 there were over 2.6 million more women than men with driver’s licenses. Apparently when it comes to marketing vehicles, women own the road.

If this is the case, why are a majority of auto brands still catering to men?  

After all, men are twice as likely as women to know the exact car they want to buy. They prefer European luxury brands, value style and technology, and view their cars as reflections of their self-image. I’ll wait for you to pick up your jaw from the floor after this revelation.

Women, on the other hand, tend to take longer to make a purchase decision, are less confident in the process, and are typically undecided on the make and model they will ultimately buy. This is a marketer’s dream scenario, right? Exactly. This presents a golden opportunity for auto brands to market to and influence an audience that is in need of information. The key (pun absolutely intended) is to understand what matters to them.

Hint: it isn’t torque numbers or how many dynamic driving modes are just a push of a button away. To get women behind the wheel, you’ve got to focus on what matters to them— durability, reliability, safety and affordability.

Oh and while affordability might seem obvious, it’s extremely important given a little more context. On average, dealerships quote prices $200 higher for female customers when compared to their male counterparts.

So, not only are the aspects women take into consideration generally glossed over, they’re being charged more when buying the vehicle they ultimately choose. This is a marketing crisis affecting tiers one, two, and three of the automotive industry.

And yet, despite these challenges, women still purchased 7.7 million vehicles last year. Safe to say a savvy brand or dealer could corner a significant share of that market. Of course, to do so you’d need the right agency partner.

Open your eyes. Pause your YouTube video. Contact us, and let’s get started. Because your current marketing, showroom, and sales process are missing out on a whole lot of undecided, eager buyers.

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