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A leap in female car ownership offers new opportunities for dealers

Posted by Meg Bernazzani on May 31, 2018

Appealing to female car buyers can mean winning a larger share of a growing market

More women own more of the UK’s cars than ever before, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The research reveals that over a third of cars on UK roads are registered to female drivers.

The findings are part of the UK’s biggest analysis of automotive trends, and confirm what most dealers will instinctively know: female car ownership is at record levels, and is only likely to rise.

Women make crucial buying decisions

And the increase comes despite many women feeling alienated by the motor industry. A 2016 survey of 48,000 UK women found that 90% would not visit a car dealership without a man, and that 56% felt patronised by car advertising. Meanwhile, a study published last year found that women play a crucial role in decisions around car buying, but few feel confident talking to salesmen.

All of which represents a real opportunity for progressive dealers. More women than ever are buying cars, and more are making buying decisions around car purchases. On the flipside, many women feel alienated by the industry as a whole and the dealership experience in particular. Making that experience more appealing to women would appear to be a surefire way to win a larger share of a growing market.

Women still feel ignored

So what does a ‘female-friendly’ experience mean in practice? It might mean taking on more female staff, when opportunities arise. Recent figures suggest that only 16% of employees in the UK automotive wholesale, retail, and repair sectors are women. At the same time, research from the US has found that 39% of women would rather deal with a woman in the car showroom, compared to 13% who would rather deal with a man.

Alternatively, it might simply mean reminding sales staff that when couples and families visit your showroom, the final decision maker is as likely to be the woman as the man. In the male-dominated auto industry, it’s still all too common for women to feel ignored and even belittled.

Building trust is key

There’s also some evidence that women buy cars differently from men, feeling less confident, spending longer on research, and favouring utility over technology. But don’t fret unduly over these distinctions. What they mostly boil down to is the need to be honest, informative, and reassuring in all your customer interactions, whether through your website, in the content you share online, or on your showroom floor. Treat everyone equally and you’ll build everyone’s trust.

Topics: female car buyers, industry news