Even in these enlightened times, there’s a lingering perception that cars are a male domain. The reality, though, is very different.
While it may well be true that men are more likely to be car enthusiasts - pouring over magazines, reading up on exotic supercars they’ll never afford and memorising statistics ready to impress their friends down the pub - women have an equally strong attachment to the cars they drive and, if anything, a bigger say in the nation’s car buying decisions.
According to research carried out in the United States women directly influence over 80 percent of all car purchasing decisions over there, and although research results in this country are a little more hard to come by, there is every reason to believe that we have reached a similar situation in the UK.
Women are more likely to take their time when considering the purchase of a car and perhaps surprisingly, they’ll often drive a harder bargain than men.
Women buy a lot of cars but they also tend to have a big say in the cars that men buy. When a man goes into a car dealership, there’s a distinct possibility that he’s under strict instructions from his better half not to come back with something silly. For this reason, women are a vitally important group of consumers for the automotive industry as a whole. What women want really matters and the fact that they have a good proportion of male car buyers on a tight leash might not be such a bad thing.
Women and men relate differently to their cars. Surveys have shown that while women can be just as keen on what a car’s like to drive or how it looks, they’re less likely to let such concerns influence their buying decisions. When choosing a car, women tend to prioritise practical criteria such as the price, the fuel economy, the size of the vehicle, interior space and the provision of safety features, especially when they have children to consider. Even today, it’s still mothers rather than fathers who are likely to be driving the family car with their children safely strapped inside when taking them to and from school, the playgroup or other activities.
Of course, men will be just as concerned for their children’s safety but they’re more likely to be seduced by factors like brand image, performance and styling. Men are also more likely to enjoy driving simply for diving’s sake, their greater love of speed and tendency towards aggressive driving being a key reason why they often pay larger insurance premiums than women.
Over the past few years the automotive retailing industry has largely managed to tear itself away from its image as a bastion of male prejudice although there are still some exceptions to this rule! These days, many dealers employ female sales staff and enlightened male sales executives who are familiar with requirements that the majority of women look out for when buying cars. However, any comparison between the sexes on their taste in cars will always be a major generalisation and large numbers of male and female motorists simply will not fit the stereotypes.