Women’s Influence In Car Buying Evolving: Study

February 1, 2012

Automotive marketers have known for some time that women exert a powerful influence over what cars will be purchased for family as well as personal use. But a new study reveals that today’s female consumers have greatly expanded their role to the point where 54 percent of them now feel a responsibility to help friends and family members make smart buying decisions.

The research study, published by Fleishman-Hillard International Communications and Hearst Magazines, was conducted by Ipsos Mendelsohn as part of the fourth wave of Women, Power & Money.

“During the past few years, we have watched the evolution of women and their sphere of influence,” said Nancy Bauer, Fleishman-Hillard senior vice president and senior partner. “Simply put, when it comes to the dynamics of today’s marketplace, women have changed the marketing communications game. The 2012 female consumer is a valuable broadcaster and amplifier of ideas in the marketplace.”

Family role now more about leading the team

The research found that the American female consumer today has a much more expanded role. It’s less about taking everything upon her own shoulders and more about “leading the team.” Economic adversity is at the core of her concerns, thus leading to her taking even greater control, honing in on what she considers to be priorities, and delegating with more authority.

Women and car buying

One of the major categories of the survey, Automotive, resulted in some rather illuminating findings.

  • The spouse is very much a part of the car-buying decision.
  • American-made cars came out on top by all women, and among women whose family income was over $100,000, American-made was even more important. Automotive brands women say they admire most include Ford, Chevrolet, Honda and Toyota. Traditional “luxury” auto brands ranked far down the list.
  • All women surveyed said they were looking for vehicles offering practical and functional solutions, and good  and quality products.
  • Among higher-income women, it was the same, but they were looking for great over good, plus long-lasting and value.
  • What’s most important to female auto consumers today is price, warranties and guarantees, reviews from actual owners, and quality of craftsmanship.
  • Women, who at over 50 percent see it as their responsibility to pass on good automotive information, do so in very social settings in person, at work and on the phone. They often tell others about Internet content, brochures and magazine articles, as well as something a salesperson may have conveyed in the car showroom.
  • Social networking ad fans of car brands on Facebook are also an information source.
  • Millennial women more frequently broadcast information and make recommendations and fully half point to online social networking sites as aiding their shopping decisions.
  • But affluent women, with an average age 20 years older than Millennials, in many ways share the profile of the influential and connected Millennials. The older affluent women averages 278 friends on Facebook compared to 247 by Millennial women.

The full white paper on Game Changers: Women Defining the New American Marketplace is available here.

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