What a Girl Wants: Auto Retailers Design for Female Consumers

Mechanic collegesTraditionally, the automotive industry has been strongly associated with the male consumer. Recent graduates of mechanic colleges can agree that throughout history, vehicles have been designed for, built by and sold to men – whereas women have never really held much influence in the industry. Today, as women continue to gain power in all aspects of society, their influence is beginning to make more of an impact within the automotive sphere.  A stronger focus on what women want in a vehicle has recently been sparked by auto retailers like Nissan, Porsche and Land Rover who have all released vehicles tailored to women. Perhaps this change will prompt more women to seek auto technician training and become involved in an industry that is becoming increasingy female-focussed.

What do Women Want?

The age old question has yet to be answered successfully; however, car companies like Nissan seem to be getting close. Earlier this year, Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan, remarked that women have a growing impact on the automotive industry and are changing the ways in which cars are being built. Why? Because women are quickly becoming the leading consumers of vehicles. From the looks of his recent projects, Ghosn seems dedicated to the concept of building cars based on the needs and wants of women. He has even gone so far as establishing the “fJury,” a board of women who provide feedback and approval on every aspect of the vehicle design process. With regards to what female consumers really want from their vehicles, Frost & Sullivan, a global growth consulting firm, has done some research and come up with a few specs that women insist on having:

  • Perceptive vehicle controls
  • Automatic assistance features
  • Integrated technology and comfort

These specifications, paired with the new project that Nissan has launched in Japan, will likely please the female consumer.

Female-Friendly Dealerships are Big in Japan

Cars are not the only elements of the automotive industry that are being adapted to meet the needs of women. Dealerships are also getting on board with the female-oriented trend. Nissan recently announced that it’s planning a facelift for 300 Japanese dealerships in order to make them more female-friendly. The auto manufacturer has already opened a dealership in Tokyo under the “Ladies First” program, which is managed solely by women. The “Ladies First” dealership is run by a team of female concierges and female mechanics – an inspiring example for women interested in pursuing automotive careers. Ghosn has also indicated a desire to hire a minimum of 50 percent female retail employees – an initiative no doubt influenced by market research indicating at least 80 percent of women prefer to be served by a female sales person.

Hasn’t it Already Been Done?

This is not the first time that the automotive industry has made changes to vehicles in the hopes of attracting female consumers. General Motors and Mary Kay Cosmetics have a long history with The Mary Kay Car Program, which grants pink vehicles to women who have maintained a constant flow of product sales for the cosmetics brand. Other dealerships have also introduced pink vehicles to attract the attention of women; however, these more superficial efforts have not been successful. Nissan’s recent initiatives indicate that a more substantive shift in marketing, selling, and design is needed to truly satisfy the female auto enthusiast.

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