Car shopping differences between women and men drive sales opportunities

car shoppingCar dealers looking for an edge may know there are differences between women and men when they shop for new or used vehicles.

And the most savvy dealerships use that information to boost sales.

The results of a recent market intelligence study by Kelley Blue Book may help. It involved about 40,000 U.S. adults and came from an analyses of data from KBB’s own website and other survey results.

First the big picture.

“When it comes to car shopping, women are driven by features – engaging in extensive research to find the best fit – while from the outset many men are revved about a particular car brand,” according to KBB, an auto-shopping and automotive industry information source.

“One in five men knows the exact vehicle he wants, while women are twice as likely to be undecided about what vehicle they desire,” said KBB. “Additionally, 58 percent of men are confident in the car-buying arena versus 38 percent of women. As a result, women take longer to make a purchase, because they are spending more time than men doing research to build confidence and knowledge.”

Women take 75 days on average to make a purchase, compared to 63 days for men, the study found.

So, the more a dealership can satisfy the need for information, especially online via mobile devices, the greater the likelihood that it will succeed in selling to women, experts say.

In its study, Kelley Blue Book also found that:

  • Women are more likely to see cars simply as a way of getting from one place to another, while men tend to view them tied to their image and accomplishments.
  • Women, who tend to be more utility-minded, prefer non-luxury SUVs and sedans, while men, who tend to be more image conscious, want trucks, coupes and luxury sedand.
  • Women prefer non-luxury Asian automobile brands, which they view to be more practical, while men want domestic trucks and European luxury brands because of the image they portray.
  • Women value practical benefits such as durability and reliability, safety and affordability more than men, who are more drawn to interior layout, exterior styling, technology and ruggedness.
  • Women define a successful transaction as getting the exact vehicle they want, while men are more about negotiating the best deal.

“What we can glean from this research is that we need to continue our focus on providing the proper tools and content to help shoppers narrow down choices, therefore bringing balance and filling gender gaps in the car-shopping experience,” said Hwei-Lin Oetken, vice president of market intelligence for Kelley Blue Book’s

Striking a balance is important to auto dealers because “women are the fastest-growing segment of car buyers,” accounting for an estimated 50 percent of light-vehicle purchases (around 27.5 million in 2013) and influencing 80 percent, according to a report from

The Kelley Blue Book data is a good reminder of that – or a good place to start.


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