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Gender Decision Making: Online Car Sales

Gender Decision Making: Online Car Sales

For the longest time, men have predominantly been the sex that is most associated with car-buying. Over time, this has molded the automotive industry into a testosterone-pumped arena, which ultimately resulted in creating what can only be described as a very distinctive gender gap. 

Whether it be attractive models flanking newly launched vehicles at motor shows or very distinctive inspiring James Bond-style commercials, brands have historically focused the brunt of their messaging to appeal more predominantly to men than women.

Thankfully, times are changing and the relevance of the buying power of female consumers is beginning to take center stage. In the Philippines, JD Power last year made several references to the increased volume and decreased satisfaction of female car buyers in the Philippines, which they reckon now accounted for 45% of all industry sales. In this most recent study, they indicated that while the volume of female consumers seemed to be increasing, their satisfaction in the buying process was much less than what it needs to be.

In addition to generating interest, sales teams should be expected to adjust in order to accommodate the needs and expectations of female buyers.

We, at AutoDeal, have also taken note of the increasing volume of female buyers, who last April accounted for 49% of purchases made across our platform. While it’s unlikely that brands will abolish their traditional approaches of targeting male buyers, marketers do find themselves in a quandary as they try to understand the values and buying habits of female car-buyers that now represent a significant slice of prospective sales. In addition to generating interest, sales teams should be expected to adjust in order to accommodate the needs and expectations of female buyers.

Men vs. Women - General Differences in Gender Decision Making

The differences in marketing to men and women has long been an area of study for marketers, with e-commerce being no exception. Over time, various publications have suggested that men follow a more utilitarian approach to shopping whereas women are more hedonic and as such are attracted to a more emotive shopping experience. 

An article by guide-selling.org indicates this well when highlighting fashion websites Zappos and Asos. As indicated in the article, brands like Zappos think distinctively about how they promote products to each gender, with the male section of their website focusing on clear navigation and product categories and the female section focusing on selling an emotion. Likewise the article also gives reference to Asos and showcases the different approaches it takes for advertising their Halloween campaign to both men and women. The author Anneke Van Aswegen further goes on to indicate further differences related to customer service; with men preferring a get-in and get-out approach and women preferring a high quality of service that makes them feel special. You can read more about this in Anneke’s original article.

Differences in Vehicle Research Habits

So what does this mean for car buying?  Well, we recently analyzed the behavior of male and female shoppers when browsing through vehicle specifications in AutoDeal’s online car guide as a means of determining gender preferences. From this endeavor our data suggests that women show a greater interest in prioritizing vehicle features, vehicle dimensions and in-cabin technology while men spend more time reading technical information related to engine capacity, performance and economy. The only one vehicle characteristic that shares a common priority level among both men and women alike is vehicle safety.

Women Search More For Better Deals.

On average, 50% of female buyers will bypass their local dealer in preference of getting a better deal, whereas only 30% of men will choose to buy from a dealer further afield. This suggests that either women are more likely to shop around in order to get the best possible experience, or that men prefer the more practical choice of availing from a dealer that is closer to home. In addition to this, we also found that a greater volume of females (8.26% of all female users) browse promos compared to men (6.6%), indicating a more price-focused or frugal approach by women. 

Women Transact Quicker.

Despite searching further afield for the best-deal, women on avergage complete transactions almost a week earlier than men, with the average inquiry to sale transaction time being approximately 50 days for females and 56 days for males*. This suggests that women either wait longer before making their initial inquiry (i.e. they inquire only when they're truly ready) or that they navigate the steps of the buying process at a faster speed than men.

Female Buyers Complete More Sales with Female Sales Agents

60% of female buyers complete sales when transacting with female sales agents. Men, on the other hand, show no difference in preference with a clean 50/50 split between both male and female sales agents. This data may suggest that there is an increased likelihood of a female customer completing a purchase if she’s dealing directly with a female sales agent. 

Vehicle Preferences

Females are more active in purchasing subcompact vehicles (accounting for 37.65% of their 2017 sales), MPVs (17.65%) and AUVs (7.06%). In comparison, men are more active in purchasing larger vehicles like midsize SUVs, pickup trucks,and vans.

Closing Thoughts

With female purchasing power now being stronger than ever before, automakers must accept the challenge of tailoring their brand messaging and sales process to accommodate women while at the same time continuing to appeal to men. While there is no ideal 'playbook' for this process, brands must be concious of the wide-range of variable differences in each and every customer (regardless of gender) and expand these efforts through the wide variety of marketing tools now available to them.

*based on AutoDeal transaction data from January 1 to April 30 2017

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