photo credit: Domenico / Kiuz
Let us for a moment ‘in the shoes’ of a woman who works, manages house and children, goes to the bank, to the accountant, to a theater, in a library, and takes charge of organizing the weekend and holidays for the whole family. About this woman – in the world of automotive marketing in Italy – there is almost no trace.
Yet in our country, the balance of car registrations has progressed steadily towards equality of the sexes: official data of the Ministry show that in 2010 sales to women has reached to 41.4%!
Yankelovich researches (www.yankelovich.com) determines that in the United States as in Europe, women influences the process decision of buying a car in 85% of cases. 4 out of 10 cars are purchased by a woman, and customers at the official service dept of the networks represent 65% of work orders, showing a greater allegiance to dealerships and authorized service compared to the male audience. Nevertheless 74% of them said they feel misunderstood by automotive marketing: women, points out Bottom Line, consider the experience of visiting a car dealer how to remove a tooth!
The behavior of salesmen and service receptionists against Women often leaves much to be desired.
We still have a long way to do if we think that many of the salesmen offers to women a small car completely neglecting the fact that for women the size of the car, the engine size and performance are no less important than they are for men. Shares of mystery shopping Kortus Shultes show that the behavior of salesmen and service personnel against women is often not the optimal one: the female customers often perceive a lack of respect, no empathy and fairness by the seller and many women lack confidence in the same dealership. Too many times a female customer is snobbed in the showroom of the dealership, she is not greeted by the salespeople and no one asks her what she wants; so the female customer will be obliged to take the initiative and ask questions to obtain information about a specific vehicle.
Add to these data is disappointing to know that the women pay up to $ 1,000 more to avoid negotiating the price of a car. Sure, there are also professional and well trained saleswomen and salesmen that deal with women buyers with great professionalism and availability, but this is not the norm.
We’re not talking about this only because the feminization of the world is a given unstoppable, but because a rapid change of mindset will allow those who sell cars do not miss the great potential represented by the female clientele!
Women and stereotypes.
Many TV spot are examples of this myopia: panther-women who move in evening dresses touching sensually details of bumpers, beams and front grilles; but even famous testimonials slipping in the back seat of small cars driven by a chauffeur. I also felt at the radio the advertisement of a car which, through the distortion of all words into feminine words, would make the message more appealing to the women’s market, but it was – as imaginable – greatly criticized in the web. The only effort that many manufacturers propose to capture this important slice of the market seem to be only special editions of city car with friezes and seats signed by famous fashion designers!
Dealers can and must play a decisive role.
The dutch dealership Van den Udenhout www.udenhout.nl regularly organizes the ‘Ladies Day’, an event during which the dealership team pampers guests with its initiatives and is sensitive to their interests and needs. The Ladies Day provides many activities and workshops with the participation of exhibitors and partners in the region that offer their services.
On this day the ladies can choose from different activities: cooking, exposure of jewelry, porcelain, scarf or scarves, but also beauty treatments, promotion of tourist destinations and much more. Moreover they can also develop road tests, participate in practical courses for when one is stranded or evidence that they are experienced as fast drivers or park in reverse. With this initiative, dedicated to the ladies, the dealer wants to achieve all its customers without focusing only on its most traditional (men).
The dealer is thus able to lower the inhibitions that keep women from entering the dealership and to strengthening the image of the dealership. Even Alberto Armaroli – after inventing the Volvo 245 Polar, so beloved by women and men – at the end of the 80’s had the first intuition to organize in some successful Volvo dealers some evening events have become cult, dedicated to female customers, with training and evidence of replacement tires, or snow chains assembly, training courses and gatherings, aiming at the self-sufficiency of the female drivers!
Women seek information, advise and they decide!
I have a reluctance to admit that – also in Italy - typing on Google ‘women and cars’ you can enter only video entitled ‘Women and sex drive’, or images of incredible car accidents carried out by women, concluding with photos of sexy women lying on the hood of sports cars. Unlike in many other countries in the rest of the world where it is interesting to note how women are organized in a structured way to better manage the purchase of their new or used car. The women talk online and are always looking for information and data, using social media, talking with other people. A research developed by NBC Universal Women’s and Lifestyle, says that 96% of women suggest to a friend a product they like, and 51% said they would purchase something based on a conversation. But we know that women have a greater ability to communicate in and out.
Women and the Web.
It is interesting to see the Australian site www.hercar.com.au where all the car reviews are written by women for women, where you can find explanations on how to access finance up to save fuel as taking care of the tires. The mission of www.womenbuycars.com is to provide a unique outlet for women where to find the list of dealerships that have been selected, tested and certified to ensure the customers buying process honest and fair. Another example is the English site www.evecars.com very oriented to the used cars market – where, if possible, women feel even more difficult – and where you can even find advice on what to ask and how to arrange a test drive.
Because, as stated in the site, as in most of the time (the choice of a new home, a partner or linen) when something does not feel ok for you… you perceive immediately. I especially liked the point of view of www.women-drivers.com where women and families can connect to a network of certified dealers ‘women driver friendly’. And there is also an interesting section for each model that provides not only a point of view but both: to her and to himself in a mirror. On price, performance, safety, aesthetics and style but also on intangible characteristics.
Women managers in the automotive.
Just to highlight all the possible ways in which a woman uses the car in 2010 and lives has been launched for the first time at the Bologna Motor Show ‘path Woman’, a journey inside the room specially designed to involve the female audience. This because the Managing Director of GL Events Giada Michetti is a Woman? Yet there are more women in the automotive managers: the authoritative journal Automotive News compiles the rankings of the best women working in the automotive world.
Of course, the number of female managers is still far from that of men, but some of them have important roles as Laura J. Soave, who heads the return of the Fiat brand in the U.S. after 25 years of waiting, or Mary Barra & Grace Lieblein Super-Executives of General Motors, Marti Euleberg vice president of Fisker Automotive, Ford Motor vice president Joy Falotico, Jill Lajdziak president of Smart USA, Deputy Terri Mulcahey Penske President or Annette Sykora of NADA.
Even in Italy there are many good entrepreneurs and saleswomen, but still too isolated in their reality. Even among manufacturers are emerging some promises that I hope will have the opportunity to reach senior management levels.
I think it’s time to listen to what women really look for when they buy a car, and to look at other points of view without continuing with female stereotypes associated with the car (between the clumsy or the femme fatale): neither our companions, nor our colleagues nor our daughters will never have or will feel represented with.
This are the thoughts of… a man!
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