Car Shopping A Woman's World? Career, Kids Prompt Purchases

October 13, 2009

It's no secret or surprise that men and women shop for vehicles in very different ways. A number of studies from market-research firms have shown that while women place the most emphasis on practical attributes when shopping for a vehicle, men tend more often to gravitate to vehicles because of their image.

A new survey done for the retail giant CarMax, looking into the reason for purchasing a car in the first place, suggests that women are highly motivated by life events.

The survey found that for 60 percent of women a career change (getting a new job or retirement) would be the most likely reason for purchasing a car. And for younger women, pregnancy or having an additional child was another very likely reason to get a new vehicle. Although the survey doesn't actually compare the attitudes of women and men, we suspect boredom would be high on the list of purchase reasons for men.

The survey was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs for CarMax and included a national sample of more than 500 women 18 and older, interviewed in August.

The majority of U.S. purchase decisions (72 percent according to "Women Want More," reviewed in the LA Times) are controlled by women, and purchasing power of women, relative to men, has continued to grow in recent years. And according to J.D. Power & Associates, women influence 85 percent of car purchases, and women make 51 percent of all auto purchases. Further research has shown that while men have mostly made up their minds about vehicles after the test drive, women are harder to please and more likely swayed by details and other ownership advantages such as warranty coverage or complimentary service.

So if you're a man, going car shopping with the rest of the family, don't be surprised if you feel a little ignored.

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