Women Have Increasing Clout on the Road and in Showrooms, New Study Finds | Edmunds

Women Have Increasing Clout on the Road and in Showrooms, New Study Finds


Just the Facts:
  • Women make up 51 percent of the licensed drivers in the U.S., while 80 percent of car-buying decisions are influenced by women, according to a new study by Frost & Sullivan.
  • The increase in women drivers is expected to have considerable impact on the way vehicles are designed and marketed.
  • Edmunds Senior Analyst and Director of Pricing and Industry Analysis Jessica Caldwell, noted: "Designing and marketing vehicles to women isn't a new trend. It's something that has been happening for a long time."

LONDON — Women make up 51 percent of the licensed drivers in the U.S., while 80 percent of car-buying decisions are influenced by women, according to a new study by Frost & Sullivan.

These findings echo a 2012 study, previously reported by Edmunds that was conducted by University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle. The UMTRI report found that women made up 50.33 percent of licensed drivers in the U.S.

Both studies note that the growing number of licensed women drivers will likely have considerable impact on the industry. This could mean changes in the way vehicles are designed and marketed.

Said Frost & Sullivan's Partner and Global Director Sarwant Singh: "Women prefer small and more maneuverable vehicles, but they also give importance to design, spaciousness, safety, quality of materials, color and sustainability. We are convinced that in a few years women will favor cars with advanced systems such as autonomous driving, digital assistants and other health, wellness and well-being features."

Edmunds Senior Analyst and Director of Pricing and Industry Analysis Jessica Caldwell, said: "Designing and marketing vehicles to women isn't a new trend. It's something that has been happening for a long time. There are certain vehicles — compact crossover SUVs comes to mind — that have been targeting women shoppers since inception."

Among those vehicles: the 2014 Honda CR-V, Buick Encore and Toyota RAV4.

According to Margaret Walsh in her essay "Gender and the Automobile in the United States," part of the University of Michigan — Dearborn study Automobile in American Life and Society, the targeting of women consumers by auto companies really got started in the post-World War I era.

Walsh notes in the 1920s automakers "or at least their sales agents realized that they needed to make their vehicles attractive to the female consumer."

Around that time, she says, "The nature of the advertisements changed from the earlier pre-World War I descriptions of mechanical parts and small sketches of cars to large color pictures featuring women as passengers or drivers and minimizing auto technology.

"When General Motors adopted the notion of annual styling in 1927 and then talked about a two-car family in 1929, they only confirmed that they were convinced of the efficacy of appealing to women."

Edmunds says: While recent studies confirm statistics that women outnumber men on the road, there's no doubt that when it comes to influencing purchasing decisions, females have long been in the driver's seat.

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