By: Peyton Hoffman, Director of Public Relations and Event Management
Did you know that up to 80 percent of all automobile buying decisions in the U.S. are influenced by women? The New York Times describes the Internet as the “great equalizer”, empowering women to make informed purchasing decisions within a market that has often been described as unfriendly to women.
Currently there are a host of websites dedicated to helping women through the entire vehicle selection and buying process. Women’s Automotive Solutions asks consumers, “Do you feel like you are going to be taken advantage of the moment you set foot on a car lot?” AskPatty provides a list of “women friendly” car dealers. Is your dealership on the list? Clearly there’s something missing here.
How might we make the automotive purchasing environment more friendly for women?
Have you ever had a female automotive sales rep assist you when purchasing a car? Do you have female salespeople in your dealership? A Google search with the term “women in automotive” displays a speckling of results, strewn between women in bikinis on cars. “Female car sales rep” yields even less. Enough said.
According to a survey of 100 leading female auto industry executives, many would not recommend an automotive career. The majority of those surveyed believed their company efforts in recruiting women to be average or below average. Cracking down on stereotyping and negative perceptions about the skills women possess is crucial in developing a culture of acceptance.
While organizations such as the AWA Foundation promote the advancement of women in the automotive industry, dealerships themselves must take significant measures to attract and retain talent. Dealers have commented about this very issue on forums, blogs, and even via a DealerRefresh case study.
Understanding their concern
Recently, there have been numerous articles on “feminizing” the car buying experience. Statistics from the United States Department of Labor show that women control more than $13 trillion in personal wealth today. Women represent 51.5 percent of all workers in high-paying management and professional occupations, and are expected to earn more then the average American man by 2020.
Yet, 3/4 of women polled say they feel misunderstood by car manufacturers and dealers. Why is this? Behavior deemed patronizing can do more than just sabotage a sale. According to the Microsoft “Digital Divas” report, 92 percent of women pass on information about their automotive customer experience to others, making women your primary audience for reputation and social media management. This audience has the potential to be your biggest advocates, or your strongest critics. Instead of adopting the traditional role, strive to support and educate. Empower purchasing decisions by providing information of value, confirming the research your buyers have done previous to the sale.