Study Finds That Men Are From Lincoln, Women Are From Volvo

August 20, 2013

In marketing, companies always track the demographics of their customers to identify shopping trends. They look at age, geography, income, and many other factors, but perhaps none more so than sex.

The auto industry isn't immune from this -- not by a long shot -- and it's drawn a number of conclusions about today's shoppers. For example: women are practical, but men get better deals. Men like a showy ride, women prefer one with smarts. And so on, and so on. Vive la difference.

Now, the folks at KBB have turned their attention to the specific brands that men and women prefer. Combining traffic stats from with survey data collected from 13,000 U.S. adults, they've identified a few very interesting facts about what turns men and women on -- at least when it comes to cars.


In very general terms, KBB finds that men prefer U.S. auto brands and European luxury rides, while women show a strong affinity for imports, mostly those from Asia.  

Though not technically Asian, the Asian-owned Volvo proved hugely popular with female new-car shoppers, especially compared to interest from men. In fact, the survey found that women were 119 percent more likely to shop for Volvos than their male counterparts. 

Why is that? While Volvo hasn't always been known for good looks, Volvos are often considered durable, and the brand has repeatedly staked its reputation on safety. That suggests a car packed with value.

And value is exactly what women look for in a new car, according to Diana Duque-Miranda, a senior manager for Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence: "Women car shoppers are much more financially conscious than men, as 72 percent of women are more likely to consider affordability in their next purchase compared to 50 percent of men.... Women are more likely to consider a brand known for value compared to men new-car shoppers, which translates to more women shopping Honda, Kia and Mazda for more bang for their buck."

That focus on value also causes women to zero in on fuel-efficient rides. In fact, 67 percent of female shoppers are drawn to gas-sippers, compared to just 48 percent of men.

In all, KBB's top ten brands for women (as compared to men) were as follows:

  • Volvo (119% more popular with women than men)
  • Infiniti (97% more popular)
  • Fiat (82% more popular)
  • Acura (61% more popular)
  • Nissan (57% more popular)
  • Mitsubishi (46% more popular)
  • Honda (37% more popular)
  • Dodge (23% more popular)
  • Kia (19% more popular)
  • Mazda (16% more popular)

Note that seven of those ten brands are Asian, two are European, and only one is American.


KBB found a huge gap between men and women in their perception of Lincoln. On average, men were 174 percent more likely to shop Lincoln than women were. 

According to Duque-Miranda's colleague, Arthur Henry, that has everything to do with Lincoln's history: "Brands with a rich heritage, such as Lincoln, Buick, Cadillac, and Mercedes-Benz, tend to draw the attention of older men more than younger men or even women.... Brands that promote themselves as being 'rugged' tend to draw the interest of men of all ages, as 28 percent of men are more likely to shop for a new vehicle that have this factor compared to 19 percent of women."

All told, the top ten brands that showed up on men's shopping lists but not women's were as follows:

  • Lincoln (174% more popular with men than women)
  • Audi (147% more popular)
  • Jaguar (128% more popular)
  • Scion (128% more popular)
  • Cadillac (119% more popular)
  • Chrysler (106% more popular)
  • Buick (96% more popular)
  • Mercedes-Benz (37% more popular)
  • Smart (37% more popular)
  • GMC (30% more popular)

Note that five of those ten are Detroit marques, four are European, and only one is Asian. (No, we're not sure how Smart got on the list, either.)

If you've recently shopped for a new car, how does this data lines up with your own preferences? Is it way off or right on target? Let us know in the comments below.


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