Finally. I’ve bought a new car.
It’s taken me five months – yes, five long, excruciating months poking about numerous dealerships as an ‘actively’ looking automotive consumer for someone to take my money. Unfortunately, it has all but confirmed my initial reticence to start upon what should have been a much easier purchase process.
The last time I bought a car was four years ago and unfortunately much of the experience is still the same but that’s not to say it cannot be changed with some minor tweaking here and a little bit of understanding there.
The simple truth automakers and dealerships must simply get is that women and men are “buy-ologically” different.
Women process information, draw conclusions and make decisions by talking about things. They like to be heard and listened to. Cue advice from Johh Gray’s “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”. If you have heard a woman on the phone to her girlfriend/mother or tuned into the high frequency of communication at a female-only event, you will understand that women converse in really different ways to men. Women tend to like “unpacking” their decision-making processes out loud. Some call it a female gene, others the “tend and befriend” instinct.
To put more scientific merit into it, Dr Lou Ann Brizendine, a Berkely and Yale medical graduate is a neuro-psychiatrist, researcher and clinician who authored two books: The Female Brain, and The Male Brain and has dedicated a lifetime towards understanding the difference between women’s and men’s brain composition and chemistry. Spend some quality minutes understanding the essence of these and listen to her amazing TED talk here.
The development of the female brain and the different hormonal impacts women undergo throughout their lifetime journey have much to do with the different compositions of our brains. Dr Brizendine uncovered that gender effects were not, as had been believed for the last century, a making of socialisation and psychological conditioning. Many egalitarian parents in the 70’s, 80s and 90s tried to bring up their children in a non-gendered way but it is not as simple as the way we socialise our young (as much as we would love to have that as our simple answer). Women’s financial influence is forcing us to research much deeper than that!
We now know that our brains really are “wired” differently and for that reason, understanding that our reactions are going to be innately different also, should be the starting point for business; women are biologically and buy-logically very different to the way we “generalise” about a homogenous audience.
Now you’ve got a handle on the science, here are my five quick Ds on how automotive can quickly change (and sell) for the better:
– DESIGN: The new body shape of some of the luxury models I loved and shopped have one thing about the new aerodynamic lines of the car really wrong if you have little ones sitting in the backseat. As any parent knows, cars that produce motion sickness in kids make for sad (and very messy) road trips so the bucket seats that really tilt backward, coupled with the line of the rear window streamlining up make kids’ vision in the back seat impossible. The inbuilt boosters are an absolute must-have for kids under 10 and yes! including their comfort and opinions in my decision-making was a mandatory. Memo to the car dealers who looked sideways at me for including my kids in the test drive but they have to live with the car too! And problem still looking for a solution, please solve the handbag dilemma.
– DEALERSHIPS: There is the beginning of a positive experience here: there’s coffee machines, they’re clean and modern and equipped with soft furnishings that look like a Vogue Interior stylist has just left the set, and often a basket of toys for the kids However I’d like to see more female sales staff – in my five months, I didn’t deal with any. Interestingly, when the male sales staff got to the moment where they asked: “What do you do?”, they all laughed when I told them my business is helping businesses how to better understand female consumers. “Please work with us!” they (half) joked. Yes, I would love to!
– DUDES: Just as high fashion brands are now catering to the high-spending Chinese customer with Chinese speaking sales assistants, it’s time for dealers to have sales staff who can ‘speak’ the language of women instead of the usual dude-talk. It starts simple – respect and acknowledge them as serious car buyers, understand and listen to their particular needs and how you might be able to best meet them. You’ll be surprised how easy it will be to book them in. That’s what happened to me when a female ‘after-sales’ staff member saw me looking around patiently waiting to get some sales attention, and after really talking and listening to my needs guess what? SOLD!
– DISTANCE: Dealers who get the way women shop will win the game. In Paris, the Champs-Elysées is home to car dealers amongst the big brands of fashion. That thinking makes so much sense, and I was thrilled to see brand leader Tesla amongst the other designer brands at Chadstone.
Don’t leave it to Tesla – get in now, automotive market. This is the way multi-tasking women (and men) of this era want to research, explore and shop. You come to them especially when women are driving 82% of car purchase decision-making. Fish where the hungry fish are wanting!
– DEAL: In an era that is all about speedy, agile processes (or an app), there has to be a less onerous and more time efficient way to do paperwork. As a time-poor business owner and mum, I almost lost my will to live in the transactional end of the final purchase. Dealerships who can find a way to ‘pay wave’ me through to my new shiny purchase will easily increase the rate of their sales and provide a unique, empathetic experience for the new modern woman who still has kids to pick up, meetings to get to and dinner prep.
I cannot wait for the automotive industry to comprehend the amount of money to be so earnestly won in this space. Not just a “pink washing” but a really clever and intelligent approach to understanding the female consumer and catering to her needs with a disruptive mentality like the genius of an Uber, or like Tesla. It’s a tired market waiting to see growth through innovative thinking. Bring it on. Or come talk to me.