A Look at Marketing in the Automotive Industry: Part I

Changing the Way Your Dealership Markets to Women

While studies show women are the fastest growing consumer group, there’s still a disconnect between the number of women purchasing in the automotive industry versus the number of women working in the industry. Not only does this have an impact on marketing style, but it also has an effect on the overall success of your dealership when it comes to sales and service. The following stats help give a clearer picture of women in the automotive industry:

  • Only 25.4% of the positions in the Motor Vehicles and Motor Vehicles Equipment Manufacturing industry were held by women as of 2013.
  • 1.4% of automotive body and related repairers and 1.8% of automotive service technicians and mechanics are women.
  • Ford employs around 2,100 female engineers compared to nearly 11,100 male engineers. This number is, however, double the employment of female engineers in 1990, but the employment rate of male engineers has also increased by 21%.

Aside from equality and creating an automotive industry that accepts and targets both men and women as professionals and workers, there are several reasons marketing to women and including working women in the automotive industry is a necessity and an advantage:

  • CNW Marketing Research found that 47.3% of women car shoppers prefer women dealers.
  • In 2010, women made up 44.1% of primary vehicle buyers, and the number only continues to increase; now, women buy 68% of all new vehicles. That’s almost a 24% increase in less than five years.
  • Women are estimated to influence up to 85% of all vehicle purchases.
  • Women spend approximately $300 billion yearly on vehicles and accessories.
  • As of 2012, the amount of women who have driver’s licenses outnumbered men.
  • Studies show that three quarters of women feel misunderstood by carmakers.
  • Women are the fastest growing consumer group.

The stats alone are enough to show us how and why women are important to the automotive industry. It’s clear women aren’t the ones who should be pitching themselves to dealerships; rather, dealerships seeking to gain an advantage in the current marketplace should look for opportunities and new ways to market to women.

How Can We Make Marketing in the Automotive Industry All-Inclusive?

According to a study by Lifetime TV and the Insight Group, in the top 100 advertising agencies, 90% of creative directors are men, the majority of which work on automotive accounts, creating a Mad Men-esque market. It’s time the market outreach to female consumers and women involved in the automotive industry change.

Say goodbye to the soccer mom. As CEO of Girlpower Marketing Linda Sanders points out, examples like Chevrolet’s “I Love the Rain” ad shows a woman prepping to drive a group of children on a rainy day. There’s no focus on any other role as a woman except mother and chauffer of children. Instead of focusing on the traditional 1960s role typically reserved for women, auto makers would do well to focus on other attributes a vehicle may have that appeal to women—technology, safety features, space, environmental friendliness, or ease and accessibility.

Sell cars to women instead of using women to sell cars. Noting that women purchase 68% of all new vehicles and influence up to 85% of all vehicle purchases, using women to sell vehicles in the traditional manner is old school. Brainstorm new ways to advertise and appeal to men and women instead of playing the sex appeal card.

Note what women value in a vehicle. Appealing and marketing to different genders requires researching what each gender prefers and looks for when purchasing a vehicle. A survey done in 2013 using 50,000 new car buyers put fuel economy at the top of women’s lists of most desired features.

Reinvent the sales experience. 50% of women are dissatisfied with the car they buy, and much of this dissatisfaction has to do with the idea that women dislike the sales experience. Create an open dialogue about vehicles. If a woman is part of the car buying experience with a male—her husband, family, friend, etc.—acknowledge and include her in the car buying experience. Many women are frustrated with dealers who are dismissive or focus their attention primarily on the male during the sales and purchasing process. 77% of women also feel as if they need to bring a male with them during their car buying process, and women generally end up paying about $500 more per car than men. As a dealership, it’s important to reinvent communication and address these issues.

Women make up a large portion of vehicle purchases, and it’s important dealerships take that into account and market to them equally and correctly without using outdated or demeaning tactics. The amount of women in the automotive industry and women who are automotive consumers is rapidly and continuously increasing. It’s important to focus on women’s up and coming role in the automotive industry, both professionally and as consumers, when creating your dealership’s marketing strategies and content mapping.

The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race. –Susan B. Anthony

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