What are Women Looking for…When They Buy a Car

Who’s buying cars today? Everyone. The market is back up on vehicle sales across the board. Many vehicle manufacturers are offering new vehicles or completely updated vehicles to keep up with the demand for the newest technology and most efficient vehicle possible. But who is ultimately making that decision to purchase?

Women are influencing 85% of all vehicle purchases. (2015 CDK Global)

I have worked in the car business for 20 years, I have sold a lot of cars. When I helped a couple buying a car, the wife always got the ultimate decision. Single women rarely deferred to a male friend when buying a car though. If they do bring a guy along, that is mostly out of fear that they won’t get treated professionally. That is a sad state of the car business that in 2016 we are still trying to understand how important it is to listen more than speak and to know your product in order to understand how to sell to women.

You only have to look at social media to see that most car companies still don’t get it. Honda even created a commercial during this year’s Olympics where a woman in a yellow dress twirls into a car dealership in a yellow dress. She sees a yellow car. Cue magical moment music. Social media exploded; they hated it. It was even the hot topic of discussion for the Facebook page, “ Women That Hate Car Dealers ”. (If you see that commercial now, the color of the car has changed.)

Yes, that is an actual Facebook page.

Google “woman+car” and see what comes up for yourself. There’s a few, very few, that aren’t completely objectifying women. That image at the top? That’s the most clothes that I could find on a “woman in a car” when I searched for this. If that is the marketing out there, they aren’t seeing what just a little research told me about how important knowing how woman affect a car dealership’s bottom line.

If 60% of all new car purchases  and nearly the same were buying used cars last year, the way that we sell as well as market vehicles to women needs to change. (2015 Glinton) The process in the showroom of a car dealership is to find out who the vehicle is for, then speak to that person’s needs and wants for their new car. Sadly, most car salesmen don’t understand or just don’t care how to do this effectively.

Women spend $300 billion annually keeping their cars in good working condition. (2015 Glinton) I won’t go into the depth of all the wrongs that I have personally experienced taking a car into the service department of a car dealership, but let’s just say another article would be required.

The top concern for women is safety on almost every research study found. How much of this is included in the presentation? Very little. I myself bought a car last year and had to visit two dealerships before I found a store that would understand that I was buying the car by myself, for myself. The first sales guy did not discuss safety, at all. The second salesman asked my boyfriend if HE wanted to take a test drive. If 78% of all women say that safety is their top area of concern , a salesman should spend just as much time discussing the safety features of their desired vehicle. (2015 Rosenberg)

Among all the information that women have to search through to buy a car, they still feel less confident in their decision and take longer to complete their vehicle purchase. (2014 F&I Showroom) Why is this? My opinion, because of the reputation of car dealerships.

Enough bad news.

How do you, as an owner or employee of a car dealership, change this?

Number one: first impressions are important. Ensure that your appearance is clean and professional. When you greet a female shopper, shake her hand firmly. Always make eye contact when speaking to her or listening to her. Show sincere interest and concern in their needs for their vehicle purchase. Ensure that your product knowledge is the best it can be. Be punctual and keep your word. Be patient and understanding. Women do take a bit longer than men to make their final purchase decision by about two weeks. And women do tend to change their mind! (Nagy 2014)

Here is a short list of important topics to keep in mind when presenting a vehicle to a woman:

1. Safety

2. Affordability

3. Reliability

4. Gas mileage

5. Warranty

All things considered, women are the most influential shoppers in the market today. Ensuring that we understand their needs with regard to their overall vehicle purchase experience, from marketing to after the sale will be vital going forward for the auto industry.

If there are more ideas out there or more current studies on effective selling to women, I would love to see them shared here!


Glinton, Sonari. (2015) Women Dominate Car-Buying Decisions; Few Hold Auto Executive Jobs. http://www.npr.org/2015/11/20/456751970/women-dominate-car-buying-decisions-few-hold-auto-executive-jobs

Rosenberg, Yuval. (2015) http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2015/04/27/How-Men-and-Women-Differ-When-Buying-New-Cars

Murray, Mikeela S. (2016) http://www.slideshare.net/MikeelaSMurray/speed-beautiful-women-and-car-buying-facts-sheet

Burch, Candice. (2016) Understanding The Internet Shopper

CDK Global. (2015) http://www.cdkglobal.com/industryinsider/selling-women-how-bridge-gap

Benko, Cathy and Pelster, Bill. (2013) How Women Decide. https://hbr.org/2013/09/how-women-decide

Passi, Delia (2015) http://blog.gaf.com/secrets-to-success-7-key-factors-for-selling-to-women-couples/

Nagy, Bob. 2014. http://www.kbb.com/car-news/all-the-latest/new-kbb-study-men-and-women-differ-on-new_car-shopping-styles/2000011285/

Facebook page. Women That Hate Car Dealers. https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=women%20that%20hate%20car%20dealers

F&I Showroom. 2014. http://www.fi-magazine.com/news/story/2014/10/women-less-confident-in-car-buying-process-kbb-reports.aspx

Graphic of woman in blue car retrieved from:


Graphic of blonde women in car retrieved from: