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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Trend: Selling to Women: Ask Patty

Women purchase half of the vehicles sold in the United States each year, spending over $80 billion.

Shouldn't car dealers sell differently to the needs and expectations of women influencers and decision-makers? recently launched as a safe place for women to get advice on car purchases, maintenance and other automotive related topics. One of the main objectives of the website is to sensitize car dealers to “women’s needs.”

However, Robert Farago of The Truth About Cars is critical of a pressing need to sell cars differently to women: "I seriously doubt that there’s a female automotive perspective– even when it comes to child safety and minivanning." Listen to the interview exchange with Joy Devere, President of Ask Patty, about the justification for such initiatives here.

AKI COMMENT: I recall the earliest attempts at a "woman's car" boasted of innovative features like more mirrors and added storage for make-up, even pink color options! It may be that the appeal hasn't progressed much further since, if we are really honest with ourselves.

While I am not certain of whether this specific site is such the godsend (I also concede that it only recently launched and is probably still finding it's voice), I will certainly admit that car dealers are often clueless about their most influential women customers. Dealerships often provide a more combative experience than it needs to be. Why not provide more lounge environments and tone the hard-sell down? Why not provide distractive engagements for children, thus freeing mom (and/or dad) to shop more and not feel rushed to keep the trip short and less boring? Why not angle more sports-muscle cars as the girl-toy for a female mid-life awakening?

One could argue that these are propositions that may not be so specific to women as they are potential boons to all customers...Exactly. But as the female dollar weighs heavier on the market (and we all want it), it is clear that the brand(s) that gets it right and speaks to women directly can reap some handsome rewards. It is interesting that after all this time, we still need justifications to target our products and messages to specific consumers (like youth, or hispanics, or women) and graduate past the mythical "every consumer" that doesn't exist.


Ask Patty said...

Thank you for the post about Ask Patty! Very thoughtful in your comments.

Jody DeVere
Ask Patty

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