Usually auto shows are all about the product – an essential element of the 4Ps of Automotive Marketing™ (product, price, place, and person). And to be sure, there have been plenty of exciting products on display at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show. But the Chicago Auto Show is also shining a spotlight on the people who make the auto industry succeed – specifically women.
The show has been celebrating the role of women in a number of ways, such as Women’s Day, on February 13, which consisted of a number of events designed to inspire and educate people about the role women play in the industry. And on February 9, a panel of automotive executives, including Cars.com Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Newman, discussed industry trends affecting the experience of women in the auto industry. The panel was part of the What Drives Her networking luncheon and panel discussion, presented by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
The panelists made a number of points, including the need for the automotive industry to understand the nuances among female shoppers. For example, Jennifer addressed a commonly held perception that women shop with families in mind.
“When you think about female shoppers, we have to recognize that not everybody is looking for a family vehicle,” she said. “Not everybody has two kids in the backseat. There are a variety of needs that automotive shoppers have, and up to 59 percent of car shoppers are single women. They have not reached a stage in their life where they are ready to have a family. Or they are empty nesters. We need to remember that while family is an important driver for buying a new car, there are a lot of reasons women shop, and we need to serve all their needs.”
Jennifer also shared her personal love of journalism and how she got to understand cars as a youth visiting dealership lots with her father. Now, as Cars.com editor in chief, she has discovered a place where cars are a passion. “Cars.com has a passion for cars – a passion for helping shoppers find the right car for them.”
The Chicago Auto Show has good reason to celebrate women: women play a leading role in 85 percent of auto purchasing decisions.[i] And female executives bringing more diverse voices to help the industry understand the purchasing habits of women. Those executives range from GM CEO Mary Barra to Katie Bowman, whose female-managed dealership was recently profiled on our blog. As Anne Fleming of Women-Drivers.com LLC noted recently in a DrivingSales post, women possess their own distinctive purchasing habits and preferences, and it behooves manufacturers and dealerships to cater to those preferences. For example, women use car dealer reviews 50 percent more than men.[ii]
In addition, as Jennifer Newman said, dealerships should be mindful of the role of social media and word of mouth in the purchase decision for women. “Women especially appeal to their friends, asking for input and advice on what car they own. It really is about making connections, relying on social media to find the right fit for the shopper along the journey.”
Savvy dealerships can win by better understanding the influential role that women play in the purchase decision and tailoring their approaches in a more personal way to female shoppers – down to the individual.
[i] NPR, “Women Dominate Car-Buying Decisions; Few Hold Auto Executive Jobs,” November 20, 2015.
[ii] Anne Fleming, “3 Ways to Welcome Women to Your Website in 2018,” February 7, 2018.