With technological literacy all but mastered, the time to tackle gender literacy is now.
In her book Why She Buys, Bridget Brennan reports that more than 90 percent of automotive sales advisors are male. If the consumer economy had a gender, she adds, it would be female—as women wield direct influence over 80 percent of consumer spending in the U.S.
This one insight sheds light on the need to become fluent in gender-friendly marketing strategies when selling to women. With women consumers wielding that much power, it raises some questions:
- Is it wise to engage in targeted selling to women?
- Do women themselves benefit from targeted marketing?
- Do related strategies encourage women to follow through more confidently?
Concerns raised by Brennan, Kelley Blue Book VP of Strategic Insights Hwei-Lin Oetken and a bevy of other researchers suggest that the answer to all three is a resounding, “Yes!”
Bumps in the Road
Despite the fact that 58 percent of men feel confident in the car-buying arena, Oetken noted, only 38 percent of women share that sentiment. The remaining 62 percent compensate by conducting additional research, taking nearly two weeks longer than men do to make a purchasing decision—for a car shopping and buying cycle that lasts 75 versus 63 days, on average.
Women are twice as likely as men to be undecided about what vehicle they want. In compiling its 2017 U.S. Women’s Car Dealer Report based on surveys submitted by more than 4,600 women nationwide, Women-Drivers.com uncovered telling statistics of a similar nature. Women who transitioned from the role of car shopper to a car buyer with a same-day purchase reported feeling 9.1% less confident and 10.3% more nervous than those who shopped around.
While faced with a daunting decision, they still bought a car—but why the hesitancy?
What Drives Her Decisions
Gender is the most powerful determinant of how a person perceives the world. It is more dominant than even race, age and income. Unfortunately, the industry and most dealerships are overlooking this large buying segment and continue to sell and market to the ‘masses’. There is a huge upside for dealerships to look at their selling strategies, processes, digital touch points and advertising and to begin to market to women as the key decision maker.
Rather than function as an extension of her personality or a symbol of her achievements, the car she chooses is more apt to satisfy an array of practical needs. Taken to the extreme, this speaks to what Katty Kay and Claire Shipman identify as “perfectionism … another confidence killer” in their article, “The Confidence Gap,” as published by The Atlantic.
“Study after study confirms that (this) is largely a female issue,” they explain.
Women’s striving for certainty, however, does not preclude them from making decisions. On the contrary, it highlights an opportunity to help them make better decisions by taking guesswork out of the equation. Whether on paper or committed to memory, women are more often driven by (or in possession of) checklists outlining what they may want or need in a new vehicle.
Showing interest in her list can significantly boost her confidence in a given dealership.
Female car buyers also seek out and place value on high positive reviews posted by other women about their own car buying experiences. In that way, testimonials are a way to increase car dealer success among women.
Other Confidence Boosters
To help boost confidence with women buyers further, dealers can remove obstacles by having “Why Buy Here” manifestos on the dealerships website and as a handout to engage guests. This “Confidence” campaign inherently is about trust and is a great PR builder.
For businesses that have a “One Price” campaign or a “Complimentary Lifetime Warranty” make that part of the story to share with the consumer.
At a minimum, being a thought leader in the gender arena gets dealerships moving in the right direction—one that meets women in the middle and will help boost confidence during her buying journey – a win-win!
“How to Increase Sales to Women Buyers by $6 Million”
The Atlantic (May 2014)
“The Confidence Gap” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
Kelley Blue Book (Oct. 2014)
“Road to New Vehicle Purchase Often Bumpier for Women, Reveals New KBB.com Research: Men Generally More Confident Car Shoppers, Perform Less Research then Feature-Focused”
“Why She Buys: The New Strategy for Reaching the World’s Most Powerful Consumers”
Bridget Brennan, author
Author: Anne Fleming
Anne Fleming is president of Women-Drivers.com. The company has innovative solutions to assist dealers in showcasing their trust + commitment to women buyers and in turn expand their sales to this powerful buying segment.