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February 08, 2011

Toyota's Jim Lentz at NADA and the Importance of Women

Nada_2011 Last weekend at the NADA conference in San Francisco, Jim Lentz, President and COO of Toyota Motor Sales USA delivered a keynote speech on the state of the industry.  In it he said that 2011 marks a new beginning for the industry, giving dealers a call to action to rise above the oft-mentioned economic downturn of a few years past, saying to strive for gradual improvements this year and next; he spoke of the importance of 'Generation Y' as a target audience, the benefits of reaching the hispanic community, and, of course, the importance of the woman comsumer in the auto industry.  Here's that particular segment, where he calls for auto dealers to take the radical stance of actually listening to women, and quotes someone familiar to the readership - AskPatty's own Jody DeVere.  Head past the jump that segment of his address.

In addition to attracting younger consumers, we need to do a better job working with two other rising consumer groups…women and Hispanics.

Let’s start with women…and the fact that traditional roles of men and women have been blurring for some time.  

In fact, women are now the majority of college graduates. And…according to the U.S. Census Bureau… more than half of all advanced degrees are now earned by women, so more will become doctors, lawyers and professors.

And as women climb career ladders, Market Outlook predicts their incomes will grow and have much more impact on business. . 

As a result of this trend, vehicle demand for women will likely grow faster than average. 

On top of that… according to consumer rating site…Women-Drivers dot com… women buy more than half of the new cars in the U.S., AND influence up to 80% of all purchases.

They also request 65% of the service work done at dealerships.  65%!

When you put this all together… women have 200-BILLION Dollars worth of purchasing power. 

That’s more than the estimated GDP for the entire country of Denmark!  (source: CIA’s World Factbook, est. 2009)

Yet, according to a recent article in Forbes… women continue having poor experiences when trying to buy a car.

In fact, nearly three-fourths of women surveyed say they feel misunderstood by car marketers.

So, how do we change that?

Well actually, it’s pretty simple. Women say the most important thing dealerships can do to bring in more women buyers… is…to LISTEN. 

Jody DeVere, president/CEO of ‘Ask Patty’… a site staffed by women car experts… said women like to tell stories… and when they bring in their car for service, they want to share the ENTIRE story.  But, men tend to interrupt and just cut to the chase… which… I have to admit…my wife Barb accuses me of doing sometimes.

Women want to be respected, and DeVere goes on to say it’s important to listen… not only because it’s polite… but because “REAL listening will sell MORE cars.”

I think that’s a good reminder for ALL of us… both professionally… and… according to my wife… personally.

So… let’s make sure we don’t take this consumer group for granted… women are DEFINITELY a key to the future success of the auto industry.

Update:  The address has now been added to YouTube in video format, so here it is.  If you'd rather read, the transcript is still linked below.


Read the transcript of Jim Lentz' entire address here.


Kaeli Gardner, Inc.
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