Business: The female tipping point

Steph Savill | 01 Feb 2016

Business: The female tipping point

Steph Savill | 01 Feb 2016

In this article:

Steph Savill offers advice on tailoring your marketing proposition to females.


In their market research report 'Women as Customers in the Car Industry (2014)', Frost & Sullivan reminds us that women in the UK are poised to become a larger and more influential consumer segment than men before the end of 2017.

Even now there are more UK females with provisional licences than males, with women not only influencing 80 percent of car sales, but also shopping for garage services for the family.

Yet despite this financial imperative, Frost & Sullivan found that 50 percent of women globally are dissatisfied with their vehicles and 74 percent feel misunderstood by car manufacturers. This disappointment is echoed by UK magazine Good Housekeeping in 2015, where 66 percent of female readers said that car dealerships could be more female friendly, 49 percent found car sales staff patronising, 36 percent felt vulnerable and lacked confidence visiting car dealerships and some 25 percent described the tone used by car sales staff as disrespectful.

So how can the many car sales and garage businesses convince disillusioned women? And, what more can automotive businesses do to raise service levels for females, not simply using gender-based marketing or vehicle personalisation options? A good example here is Nissan's 'lady first' dealerships in Japan, which include concierge services such as creches so valuable female customers can concentrate on car transactions without child distractions.

Listed below are the female-friendly initiatives.

Accessibility

Is your CEO or DP known and available to customers if need be? You'd expect this when visiting the business premises, but are they potentially contactable via call centres, websites and social media? And do they or their PA follow this up? Personal access is a source of reassurance for many women, a means for businesses to monitor quality standards and a beacon of business pride.

Celebrate test drives

Test drives can be daunting in a new car, using unfamiliar controls, navigating busy roads and with a typically assertive male member of staff. No wonder many females stay loyal to a familiar brand, delegate test drives or buy cars without one, regretting a wrong choice for years. A 24 hour home-based test drive, or the option of a female member of staff can make this much more fun.

Shout about quality

If local competitors aren't listed on the IMI Professional Register, make sure she knows why this matters. Join and promote Trading Standards Institute-approved schemes regarding new car sales, warranty products and service and repair work. Do your staff know what these mean? Promote customer service or trade awards? All these will help your business stand out in her mind.

Showcase your female face

Always show off your female staff at all levels, as this is an opportunity to be seen as a female friendly employer. Actively recruit ambitious women alongside men into car sales by making this role more flexible and attractive. Organise community based car events and invite local groups of women to meet at your business. Finally, be sure to use social media to support this strategy.

Stand out online

What makes your website reassuring and hopefully different from others? Remember that many women worry about being overcharged, patronised and baffled when buying cars and garage services, so images of happy female customers and honest lifestyle-based car reviews, alongside online car search or garage booking tools, should address these needs.

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Wendy Hennessey

+44 (0) 1992 511521

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