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May 12, 2009

Is the Auto Industry Listening on How to Market to Women?

M2WLogo I attended and chaired a round-table on social media marketing to women car buyers at the annual M2W-Marketing to Women conference recently where the brightest and greatest minds on how to reach women spoke, networked and discussed the latest trends and strategies. It was invigorating and a nice change of pace for me to spend time mostly in the company of women who like me understand the "Power of the Purse". I am very committed to speaking and training mostly men in the auto industry that women are not a diversity or niche market and how to improve results with women. Women are the majority of car, tire and service customers, yet at M2W it was the like singing to the choir, very few men attended the conference and ZERO men from the auto industry in attendance.

It is puzzling and somewhat perturbing during a time when the auto industry is in a sharp downward tailspin that overall they still refuse to listen, recognize and treat the majority of WHO is making and influencing the buying decisions, Women. The old boys network seems to want to cling to the idea that men are still in control of the buying process and that the auto industry is a guy's world to their last dying breath even though studies, statistic and the facts say otherwise.

Women influence over 85 percent of all automotive purchases yet 74% of women surveyed feel misunderstood by automotive marketers.

It was comforting and reassuring that women working along these lines in other industries are battling the same issues within their own industries and organizations. A stand out was Julie Gilbert - Wolf Means Business.  As many of us in this field of marketing to women are aware, it is tough to get support at the top from men to address the needs of women in the workplace and the needs of women buyers. Julie met the challenge of shattering the glass ceiling for women head on with results and achievements both for women  employees and for Best Buy’s bottom line,. She created  Wolf (Women’s Leadership Forum) Pack - an international network of women who advise and mentor Best Buy women employees.

Some great quotes for me from the conference:

Julie Gilbert, former SVP, Best Buy, CEO/Founder WOLF Means Business
“You can’t PowerPoint people into understanding—they have to experience it.”

TooBusyTiShop Kelly Murray Skoloda launched her new book "Too Busy to Shop" and coined a new phrase: "Multi-Minding" women.
"Marketing to women, who control 85 percent of all consumer purchases and a growing number of business purchases, is no longer a “nice to do” component of the marketing mix."

Tony Cardinale, SVP, Research & Strategic Insights, Bravo & Oxygen Media
“If someone tells you women want this right now you should respond by saying “which women?”  There are all different kinds of women that want different things.”

Caryn Carmer, Senior Vice President, Co-Practice Leader & Allyson Clarke, Vice President, Insight Creation, MS&L
“Digital is at the center of women's conversations.  More than 8 in 10 women gather information from external sources and look for more info or online or they start online and take the information to their offline world.”

Melissa Read, Ph.D, VP, Research & Innovation, Engauge
“In addition to the makeup of our brains being different, men and women have different life experiences that drive our needs and behavior.  Boys and girls engage in different things and in different ways making women more relational.”

InYourCar Kelley Styring of Insight Farms was my favorite speaker so funny and insightful about her research project about how women use and feel about their cars.  "Women "wear" their car.  The exterior is the face we show others.  The interior is our "authentic self."  The front seat is our workspace.  The back seat is the kids area and garbage bag. The trunk is "where things go to die."  

Other sound bites on marketing to women:

Women are looking for substance - you have to stand for something. 78% of women say leading companies are driven by values.

"Edgy" "excess" "too much fun" and "living life large" are being replaced by "giving back."   Women want to know what you stand for.

Instead of asking "do I want it," she's asking "do I need it."

Women are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst during the current economic climate.

Women right now are looking for value, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are looking for cheap.

A woman's buying process is longer.  Good enough isn't good enough - she's looking for the perfect answer.

She is more expensive to acquire, but cheaper to keep - because she's invested more time in her decision, she's more confident in that decision.  There's a higher psychological cost if she walks away.

Women have more mementos (in their car and other places) to remind them of "what's important in life."

If she complains and you handle the complaint and satisfy her, she's even MORE likely to recommend you than if she had a good experience. Make it easy for her to complain. She is trying to communicate with you and solve the problem with YOU.

I work very hard to help men in the auto industry better understand what women want, how to accurately communicate and connect with them and how to unlock the purse strings of women who hold the key to survival in these challenging economic times. This is the entire thrust of the Certified Female Friendly training, marketing and advertising program for automotive retailers.

Guys: Are you listening?

Jody-devere_webs300_4431sm Jody DeVere
President and CEO


Link to a new study from and Compass Partners on what women are doing in social media , online and the power of blogs in women's purchasing decisions:

Link to recent study by SheSpeaks on women's motivations to make purchases, feelings about the current economic climate and the impact of the economic downturn on spending.

Related Posts:



Marketing to Women Online


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