This Just In: Women are Smarter than Men
The Motley Fool's John Rosevear writes about a TrueCar study on new-car buying preferences which came to the shocking conclusion that when it comes to car buying, women make more practical choices, while men are more likely to buy "based on more visceral factors," which means that they tend to prefer "brawny" or "flashy" choices whereas women lean toward smaller vehicles and imports.
Now, this isn't news, it's something we've been aware of for some time. But let's not get carried away. Sometimes girls go for the flashy choices as well (see my own car Valentine wish list if you need proof), and I know several women who drive the big pickup trucks. Let's get this out of the way first: this post isn't meant to marginalize or reinforce a gender binary, though I did use a flashy headline and snarky graphic (made you look!). By and large, women seem to be making more practical car choices, according to this survey - but the more important part, to me, is that this divide isn't quite as wide as it once was. The gender gap is narrowing, and that's the more important point here. Let's get to it:
According to Rosevear, "The new study, conducted by analysts at TrueCar.com, looked at more than 8 million new-car purchases made in 2011." Here are some of the findings (quoted from the article):
- The brand more women favor? It's Mini, which has the highest percentage of retail sales to females at 46%, followed by Nissan and Kia. Fourteen brands in total have captured more than 40% of the female car-buying vote, including Fiat, whose sole U.S. offering is the Mini-like Fiat 500.
- Men, on the other hand, clearly want something different. The brand with the highest percentage of male buyers was Ferrari, the famous (and famously expensive) maker of super-fast sports cars. And 13 of the 20 brands favored by the largest percentages of men were luxury brands like BMW or "exotic" brands like Maserati.
- "Brawny" brands were also heavily favored by men, with truck-heavy makers GMC and Land Rover ranking high on the men's list. Classic American brands also tilted in a masculine direction, with Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge all among the top 10.
- Women, meanwhile, favored imports: Honda, Nissan, and Subaru were all among the top 10 brands with the highest percentage of female buyers – and all are brands with a reputation for reliability and practicality.
The article also reports that while the study finds that while genders generally behave as typically expected, there is evidence that the gender divide is not as stark as we thought. Women also showed great interest in some stylish, fun choices, like the Volkswagen Eos, a flashy little convertible TrueCar thought may be male-preferred. So there were some surprises here, I'm happy to report.
This study also shows that the gender gap is narrowing. Even though women loved the Minis, more than half of Mini buyers are male, and plenty of women buy Land Rovers and Cadillacs.
So, good job girls, we're making the smart calls - but I pose a question. Sure, the gender divide is narrowing, which is always a good thing, but I wonder how much of that rift is brought about by the car dealers themselves? When a woman walks onto the lot, do the salespeople automatically show her to the typically 'female' cars, while leading the guys over to the Ford F-Series trucks? I wonder how much smaller the gap would be if more dealerships were Certified Female Friendly, for example.
But I may be just a little bit biased.