This past Sunday marked the 43rd year that International Women’s Day has been celebrated around the world. Women as consumers have been a market most businesses are eager to tap into for a continual stream of revenue. Like the age-old question, “What do women want?” Well – where to start? We want to be represented in the marketing of products that we use every day. In the case of the automotive industry, we don’t want to see only the housewife that is excited about her Honda Odyssey. Don’t get us wrong, I have more than one friend that swears by the car for their families, but there is sure to be a single lady that is pumped about a minivan too, so don’t pigeon hole us. We want to feel, yes feel, an emotional connection to the brand – not just the products. Last year we touched on brand intimacy in the automotive industry. The importance of brand intimacy is essential to the female consumer. When we are making a purchase, we are forming a connection with the brand. If handled correctly during the sales process, that connection can turn your female customer into a grassroots marketing powerhouse.
When women embark on their car-buying journey, they don’t just look for the car they had in mind. We are hoping when we arrive at the showroom to have a customer experience that doesn’t leave us heading home disappointed or downright uncomfortable. We want to feel empowered by our car purchase and happy that we elected to make our purchase with your dealership.
According to cars.com, Women make up 62% of new car purchases and influence 85% of all car purchases. That got your attention, didn’t it?
Women want to see themselves in the advertising that your dealership is using to draw us in.
When you think about automotive advertising, most people think about fast cars zooming down the freeway, trucks traversing mountainous terrain, and minivans driving up to the soccer field. Here’s the thing – all of that is great – but if women cannot see ourselves and all of our families living the experience of driving your cars, it’s going to be very hard to get us to ‘buy-in.’ What’s more, is that since we influence 85% of car purchases overall, our significant other might really want a Porche Taycan, but we know that we are going to need Toyota Tacoma that can haul the trash and pick up the dogs from doggie daycare. We are going to sway that decision-making process. Women are empowered to make decisions in their personal and joint purchases, and we want to feel that we have that level of control while we are at the dealership and recognize it in the advertising that is going to make us stop in. So how does the dealership accomplish this?
“Women crave connection; human connection. Your digital experience must appeal to the emotions of your female consumer so she can start to connect and fall in love with your brand. Your digital experience is your first impression and the first opportunity to connect with her so you can start earning her business.”
– Katie Mares
Documenting the experience of your past female shoppers and using it in your current advertising will grab ‘her’ attention.
Digital marketers have been talking about influencer marketing for years, but as time has shown us, influencer marketing can be a shot in the foot to businesses if not handled properly. When car dealers are thinking about influencer marketing for their dealership, specifically with female shoppers, they should look no further than their existing customers. Women want to see other women shopping with you. We want to see your salespeople interacting with women at the showroom and enjoying themselves. This helps us develop trust in you as a business owner and create an even deeper connection to your product.
Creating an engaging digital experience is essential to building that brand trust as well. Check out the chart above from joinwomendrivers.com. According to their polls, Facebook played a large part in how women engaged with the dealership before they headed to the showroom. Facebook isn’t the only place that women like to hang out. Did you know that a little over 56% of Instagram’s daily 1 billion and growing users are women? By creating a social media strategy that highlights your dealership’s ‘why buy’ messaging and making sure that women from all walks of life are represented in that messaging will help set your dealership up for success.
Just like an elephant, we never forget, so make sure your customer service is on point, and make sure we know about it.
I’ll reference another perfect Katie Mares quote, “women are the original social media.” We love to tell our friends about the excellent products we found or fantastic customer experiences and why “you just have to go there.” We also like to read up on reviews and see what people are saying about products and their overall experience. These first nuggets of information start to build our trust process and begin the sway in our decision making.
I’ll use my most recent car buying process as an example. I am a 32-year-old millennial, with no children (except for a fur-child) and needed to make a car purchase as soon as possible. My Subaru Impreza was driving like there was a constant earthquake taking place in the engine so I knew it was time to retire Sue the Subaru and purchase something new. I was living in Charlotte, North Carolina which is 6 hours from my parents, and I was single at the time, which meant that I wouldn’t be taking a male with me on this journey. Honestly, I did not feel the need to. I knew I was in the market for a GMC Terrain, I was waiting for the right price for my budget.
During my online search, which started by typing in the keywords “GMC Terrain Charlotte NC” into Google, I came across the perfect car. A dealership (which will remain unnamed), had a Terrain in my budget, with surprisingly low miles. I jumped in Sue and shuttered our way down the freeway. Upon my arrival at the showroom, a salesman walked up to me looking totally exhausted, and I filled him in on the car I was looking for. I can’t remember if he asked for my name, he just went straight to the test drive. If the car drove fine, I knew that was the car I would get, and upon driving it and inspecting the interior, I let Mr. Salesman know this was “the one.”
My most vivid memories of this experience would be the sales transaction. I had a trade-in, as terrifying as it might have been, and I showed up pre-qualified. One would think this process would be pretty streamlined. Still, my exhausted salesperson took his time, made a point of stressing the lack of value of my trade-in, and just generally seemed overall uninterested in whether I purchased the car or not. Four hours later, I left with Gertie the GMC, but also with a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth.
I was excited about my car purchase but was overall displeased with my customer experience. I only visited the dealership one more time for a part that was under warranty but never revisited the dealership after that. Had I encountered a fantastic customer experience, I would have probably been back for all of my service needs, but I never did. I didn’t rate or review them on any of their digital sources because I couldn’t think of anything significant to share about the dealership. The dealer missed out on an opportunity for me to sing their praises online and to earn my repeat business. I also didn’t refer any of my friends that were in the market in the area. All it took was four hours in the showroom to keep me from doing so.
According to joinwomendrivers.com’s 2019 Women’s Car Buying Report at Top 7 US Auto Brands “6 in 10 women who don’t buy when they visit a dealer, don’t return there.”
joinwomendrivers.com | 2019 Women’s Car Buying Report at Top 7 US Auto Brands
Price isn’t always a deciding factor for women.
According to the Women’s Buying Report, it isn’t the price that dictates the purchasing decision of a female shopper, it’s the salesperson. The cost of my vehicle was just too good to pass up, so I had no choice but to sit through my less than lackluster sales experience; however, it seems that many women in America put their customer experience above the price. Next in line of importance is the dealer’s reputation, pointing directly back to our previously mentioned note about online reviews.
If you want to “earn her business” take a look at your overall digital marketing strategy and sales process to assess how you are engaging with female shoppers and how you build their trust and loyalty online and at the dealership. The solo female shopper audience will only grow as time progresses so do not discount her purchasing power. We just might surprise you!