Women buy cars too, and not always with the help of men. So listen up, blokes in the car industry. If tech companies, be it the small startups or conglomerates are recognizing how the lack of gender diversity is hurting the whole industry all the way from sales to innovation, it’s time for the car industry to follow suit before it’s too late.

Women are desperately lacking but needed to address, participate and contribute in problem-solving, product development and in defining the shape and culture of car markets. As a consumer overtaking men, women car shoppers are not simply more educated today, they are a formidable force to be reckoned with. One could say that in this day and age, women wear the pants in many facets of society.

According to Forbes.com, women (not men!) buy more than half of all new cars purchased and perhaps influence about 80% of all new and used car purchases. Australian statistics are only slightly behind similar percentages in the United States.

Being a woman you’d think it’s enough to make car marketers sit up and notice the great gender disparity, yet as I was thumbing through several glossy car brochures—I’m unable to see a breakthrough for women anytime soon. For one thing, they usually feature a man sitting behind the wheel.

This picture couldn’t be far more removed from reality itself. Yet car manufacturers, dealers and salespeople are still rather skewed in their perception of ‘women car buyers’, if there is even such a thing to them. Consumer research shows how women continue to tolerate poor experiences when trying to buy a car, and say they feel misunderstood by the industry on the whole, ranging from car marketers to salespeople, or that advertisers rub them the wrong way. It’s little wonder how poorly the women are catered to considering how male-dominated the car industry has always been and continues to be in its culture. Historically it is made up of male sole proprietorships, or family-owned enterprises usually succeeded by yet another male heir at the helm. It doesn’t stop at ownership either—the workforce comprises of a predominant male workforce from sales to services; those who are frequently at the frontline of customer service. Just another reason the industry requires a better understanding of how to communicate, adapt to or sell more effectively to women.

Putting aside assumptions may be a great start. After all, women are shown to do the bulk of the research on car buying way before they’ve made their way to the car showroom for a first test drive. Chances are that they already know what they don’t want; if they don’t already come armed with substantial knowledge on what they are specifically interested in, care about the most, or are cautious to avoid. Suffice to say, the same rule probably applies to car finance loan schemes, or after market services and products at post-purchase stages.
If you are targeting the woman, the only assumption you should make is that they are savvy, educated shoppers. Women care as much if not more than men about dynamic, progressive car safety mechanisms like smart brakes and other adequate functional aspects of a car like its various safety and comfort features, not just how many ‘cup holders’ there are in the front and back seats. Much less whether the upholstery comes in leopard or zebra print. Yes, contrary to popular belief indeed.
My husband was impressed when I interrupted him midway to ask if the car he intended for us to purchase had xenon headlights complete with LED technology, and whether it came with automated safety warning and braking systems. Most women aren’t big audiophiles, but trust me, while I may not know the detailed technology behind a vehicle’s subwoofers, I do know how I would prefer Andrea Bocelli’s opera to sound like in my dream car’s digital amplification.

These are just some subtleties that may surprise men in how detailed women can get while being involved in the car purchase process. If you are a man reading this, here’s more startling facts on how the woman car consumer behaves: usually with much less emotion attached than the men even! Male buyers, too often turned on by sight, are known to drool for example, at the smooth sculpted feline silhouettes on metal, which arguably may indeed be a thing of true beauty and genius in design, but yet superficial to a woman. That’s right, make no mistake—the male buyer could operate on a more emotional plane than his wife when out car shopping!

To a woman—a car’s beautiful design should preferably serve a utilitarian purpose, designed to perform or offer some bonus effortless functionality, otherwise, what’s the point? We’re buying a car here, not a pair of Jimmy Choos that we won’t mind squeezing into even if it were killer stilettos that pinch and blister the toes or will take our suffering feet six months to ‘break into’. A car is something that must be practical, not just attractive. Take time to listen to your female customers. Nothing annoys us more than a salesperson making minimal eye contact with us and directing all conversation to the man next to us, or assuming he’s brought us car shopping rather than the other way around! Sometimes, the wife or girlfriend, mum, cousin or sister is the one really needing or buying the car or service and SHE brought the boys to avoid being sidelined! SHE who is listening quietly to your banter may be the actual decision maker who makes or breaks your deal today.

A change of mindset to appeal to women shopping for cars and affiliated services is a revolution that must be started sooner rather than later in the struggling automobile industry.

And before you decimate the female gender further because we ‘seem like the weaker sex incapable of shrewd negotiating’, think again. We already buy more than half of all cars sold in Australia and either directly or indirectly influence 80% of all family car-buying decisions.

This is the woman—“Show us the money”. “What’s your best price? That’s your best? Well how about free petrol with a couple of years’ free servicing, thank you”. Make no mistake, she’s probably read up and highlighted stacks of your brochures, in addition to having trolled through volumes of online reviews and blogs before she walked into your showroom or made you that phone call. Don’t you play her either. The truth is that she’s probably already emailed or rung up a few of your competitors and had at least three if not five quotes, and if you offer her your ‘lowest and best price’, be prepared to be beaten with your competitor’s lower quote and be asked the ubiquitous question for all retailers today (pretty much like how I shopped for my daughter’s Disney Frozen Elsa doll from Target to David Jones to Mr Toy’s World) “Do you fellas price-match?”

If you can’t do better on pricing, take heart that pricing is only one aspect of how women see car shopping as a total experience. After all, women do place great importance on the satisfaction of a positive transaction like how sales and customer service personnel make the effort to establish a good relationship through anticipating their needs and personal attention to detail.

At 360 Finance we pride ourselves in acknowledging our female customers as individually capable decision makers who place great value on a positive car purchase experience including finding the right car loan to best suit their needs.

Call one of our well-trained specialists today who cares to listen! We promise not to ask you what your man thinks!