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June 24, 2010

Why Men “Buy” and Women “Shop”!

DENTIST When it comes to buying or repairing a car,  lots of women responded to a recent survey that they prefer having a root canal versus visiting a car dealer or repair shop.  That’s very hard for all male dominated businesses to understand.  After all, how can visiting a car dealer ever be compared to a root canal?

Well it can and it should be.  The experience women face is too often totally disrespectful, patronizing, and in worst cases dishonest.  Women are ignored if  a man is with them, (not even a hello many times) women are teased because it is assumed they know nothing about cars, and too many women are taken advantage of with high prices and unnecessary repairs. Some macho male salesmen and repair shops take it as “sport” to give women customers a hard time.

At least with a root canal, women know upfront  it’s going to be painful.  They know they will be given Novocaine to minimize the pain.  They know that the dentist really cares about them and will do everything possible to minimize the discomfort.  Sounds pretty good in comparison to buying or repairing a car when you do think about it from a woman’s perspective! 

But it’s not only the car industry that is missing the boat.  Most of the businesses that have historically catered to men  just don’t understand that women are looking for a totally different experience.  And they have no clue why so many women continue to walk out and take their business elsewhere.

This all comes down to understanding the fundamental differences between men and women as consumers today.

Look at what the numbers say about todays consumer spending:

WKW019W - Women account for 85% of all consumer purchases
- 91% of new homes
- 66% of PCs
- 92% of vacations
- 65% of new cars
- 89% of bank accounts
- 93% of food
- 93% of OTC pharmaceuticals
- Moms spend $1.7 trillion annually
- 63% of college-educated women with small children work outside the home
- Women head 30% of all U.S. households
- The average woman will spend 20 years managing her finances alone
- Women earn $1.6 trillion annually
- 1 out of 3 women earn more than men
- Women are the primary financial decision-makers and head up 611,000 U.S. households with $1million or more in assets
- 1/3 of all respondents in a nationwide survey of women homeowners said they would rather receive a dozen tools than a dozen roses

Source:  “Marketing to the Ultimate Power Consumer – The Baby Boomer Woman”

The data says alot.  If one gets nothing else out of the data it clearly says that today’s consumer spending is totally dominated by women and not men.  So marketing and sales processes and techniques have to shift focus towards women.  Some men may not like that, but that’s the reality to be successful in business today.  And it’s long overdue.

So what are the fundamental differences between women and men as consumers?

Men are transaction focused.  They want to quickly buy what they want at a cheap price and leave with it right away.  They don’t place much value on getting to know who they are doing business with,  their competence, nor the level of quality and service they are getting.  Sales people who know absolutely nothing about what they are selling, are very successful selling to men if the experience can be cheap and fast.  So the bottom line, men “buy” as consumers, price and speed are the drivers. 

WKW032W On the other hand, women “shop” as consumers.  The experience of buying is more important than the transaction itself.  Women want to get to know the salesperson, are they competent and honest?  Women do a lot of research on products before they go out and look.  They ask lots of questions before they make a decision to  buy.  And if the experience is not positive, they will quickly leave and go elsewhere to buy what they are looking for.  If the experience is very positive women will be loyal repeat customers and tell all their friends.   Price is a factor to women but they will pay more for competence, quality and service.   They are focused on the total value provided to them.  

“Buying” is the equivalent of experiencing fast food.  Fast food is cheap and fast,  no matter where you go you will get the same thing.  Expectations are low, and poor service and quality are accepted.  If the food is cold or the wrong item is in the bag, that’s just the way it is. Ever hear anyone rave about the wonderful fast food meal they just had?  

“Shopping” is the equivalent of eating a great restaurant meal.  It takes more time to eat at a restaurant, it costs more, and competence, quality and service are expected. The experience is remembered long after the meal.  And if the experience is bad, a customer is lost.

Fast food restaurants would be out of business if we held them to the same standards as a regular restaurant experience.   So if many businesses don’t finally “get it”, they will be out of business.

So beginning today when a woman comes into your business to shop, stop trying to sell them fast food!  Offer them a pleasant experience, competence, answer their questions, be honest and upfront, show them you care.  In thinking about it, isn’t that how business should be anyhow?

The author, Jerry Elman is the owner of Schoen Place Auto, the only Ask Patty Certified Female Friendly® auto repair shop in New York State.

Jody-devere-0510_1784x800 Jody DeVere
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