It’s one of the most expensive items most consumers purchase (especially if you are comedian Tracy Morgan, who recently bought a $2 million Bugatti). But the car-shopping journey is a very different process for men and women.
Neither gender is particularly thrilled with the process. Instead of buying a vehicle, people said they would rather clean toilets, attend jury duty, go to the DMV or have an extended conversation with their mother-in-law, according to Cars.com.
Amie Lindaas, senior manager, research and insights at Cars.com, shared some car-shopping research at a recent meet-up of women automotive journalists, bloggers and automaker representatives, called “Heels and Wheels.”
Manufacturers in attendance included Mazda, Nissan, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Honda, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Chrysler, Dodge, Mitsubishi, Aston Martin and General Motors’ Chevrolet, GMC, Buick and Cadillac divisions. Hagerty representatives brought a couple of cool old cars (including a ’66 Mustang convertible) and talked to us about how they are keeping the love of driving alive, especially among young drivers.
Lindaas prefaced her powerpoint by affirming what I'd already suspected: Those of us who are in or cover the automotive industry are not your typical women car buyers. We actually kind of like the process — crazy, I know. I thought I was the only one who puttered around automaker websites just for fun, building out different makes and models with different features. But Lindaas does it too.
According to Bloomberg, women buy 62% of all new cars sold in the U.S. and influence more than 85% of all vehicle purchases. They are the fastest growing segment of buyers for new and used cars.
Most women are not typically enthused about car shopping or their car in general. Men are much more likely to have a make/model in mind when starting the search and tend to be more brand-loyal than women.
Women are less decided on make/ model when coming to Cars.com, with 78% undecided on make/model, compared to 70% of men. They’re more open to searching by body style or lifestyle needs.
Woman search for lower cost and tend to lean toward more practical sedans and SUVs, while men are more likely to be searching for trucks and Mustangs.
The average price on the “Top 10 Cars Women Want” list is just $14,870, while the average price of cars on iSeeCars’ equivalent list for men is a whopping $49,224. Women overindex for Honda, Jeep, Kia, Nissan and Hyundai while men tend to overindex for luxury brands: Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW (as well as Ford and RAM trucks).
Women rely more on recommendations from friends and family, what they see on the lot and what they see on the road. Men are more likely to stick with brands they know and trust through previous ownership.
Women are far more concerned than men about vehicle safety. They’re also more focused on price, space/cargo room and MPG. Men care more about quality of craftsmanship, performance, styling and image. The test drive and moment when they receive detailed pricing info are the crucial times for women.
Women are much more practical car shoppers, from research phase to dealership and salesperson selection. Men approach car shopping, vehicle selection and dealership/ salesperson decisions from a much more emotional perspective.
When it comes to selecting a dealership, women rely on word or mouth and recommendation far more than men. Men are more concerned with the personal attributes of their potential salesperson (the information they get from online bios at websites like Cars.com’s SalesPerson Connect), while women are more concerned with experience and expertise.
Women are far more concerned than men about the financing process and getting approved for a loan. They are also less skeptical of the dealership’s salespeople compared to men.
Ultimately, if automakers understand these key differences, they can help guide consumers down a purchase path that’s optimal to their unique needs. Unless they are dealing with an automotive journalist -- then all bets are off.