What Do Women Want?

When car shopping, that is …

Anyone who saw the recent Women’s March on Washington – and around the world – knows that the role of women has changed dramatically in the past few years. Today, the main breadwinner in 40 percent of families with children under 18 is a woman.

That’s up from 11 percent in 1960 and 34 percent in 2000.

But what happens when women go car shopping? These days, car consumers do their research online. While ten years ago, car consumers visited about five dealerships, today, they’re more likely to visit two or fewer.

So one would think the red carpet would be rolled out for a woman purchasing a car at a dealership. She may well be the family breadwinner, and she’s ready to make a purchase!

Sadly, it’s not the case. Despite organizations like askpatty.com and women-drivers.com, which purport to certify automotive dealers as “female friendly,” or the like, the auto retail sector remains a boy’s club. There may be more female sales reps on the showroom floor, but they’re still far and few between. And just because there are some token women selling cars, it hasn’t significantly changed the basic culture of the car retail sector. Sales reps still don’t take women seriously as car buyers, and don’t understand that a woman’s idea of a reliable car isn’t one that only needs service a couple of times a year – a reliable car is one that won’t leave her stranded by the side of the road at 2:00 a.m.


The irony is, car dealers do want more women as customers. But their tactics to attract this demographic are still antiquated. Try as they might to lure women in with capuccino lounges and pink-themed washrooms, it takes more to sell cars to women. It starts with respect for their knowledge and research; chances are, they’ve spent 59 percent of their time online, checking out the manufacturers’ sites, various dealer sites and third party reviewers.

What do women want? Sure, it’s nice of the sales rep to point out how the glove compartment works, and where to stash a purse, but most women want a little more. Where most sales reps are into moving metal, women want concrete information and transparency. They want a relationship, with room for questions and conversation. So how about keeping the pressure to a minimum? And a sales rep who will make eye contract?

There’s more. Women want to deal with a sales rep who’s knowledgably, especially about tricky financing options. Women don’t want to be left alone in a sales cubicle for an hour while the rep goes off to “check with the manager.” They don’t appreciate a sales rep who tries to push buttons, and wastes their time by trying to sell unnecessary options or hide relevant details.

Where’s the dealer who will explain the difference between torque and horsepower? Whether a hybrid vehicle is – or is not – worth the investment? How do the safety features work? Can a safety system make a difference in insurance? What types of tires are best? What kind of upgrades are worth the money? Is it better to purchase or lease?

Wait a minute – don’t men ask those questions too?

In short, what women want isn’t a whole lot different from what men want. Good value, a reliable car, respect, and a truthful, transparent transaction.

So when women get what they want, it looks like everyone does. Including a sale for the car dealer!