For Female Car Buyers, A Disconnect Between Ads And The Sales Floor

September 18, 2012

Car adsMy husband and I are shopping for a new car. A new vehicle is often the second-largest purchase people make in their lives (behind a house, of course).

So I’m doing my due diligence, researching and test driving multiple options. But I’ve found first-hand how different those two parts of the car-buying experience can be.

In our search for a crossover vehicle — typically a vehicle targeting women — the difference between research and actual shopping has been amazing.

In my research phase, the imagery, videos and available “extras” all screamed women. Women take prominence in photos and show how easy the vehicles are for families with kids.

Then I actually visited a sales lot.

As soon as we entered the dealership-visiting phase, salesmen (yes, always men) greeted us without fail with a handshake and a lively sales push. They asked our names (though typically only my husband’s name was jotted down), directed most, if not all, questions to my husband and ALWAYS handed him the keys for a test drive. At first it annoyed me. Now I find it amusing. I’ve begun playing games by finding ways to inject myself in the conversations and make damn sure each salesman knows this is a joint decision. Not my hubby’s alone.

In fact, in our case, the decision leans far more my way because I will be driving the car. Oh, and I run the money in the Checco household. I know what I want and I know how much we can afford to spend. So it’s frustrating in 2012 when I feel like the little woman tagging along to watch her man buy a family car.

According to Road and Travel Magazine, women purchase more than 50 percent of all new cars and 48 percent of all used cars. In addition, they influence 80 percent of all auto purchases. Most car manufacturers have caught on. Ad campaigns target women across many lifestages in print, online and broadcast advertising. But for some reason, that experience has not translated to the place where the final purchase takes place — in the store. The gap is confusing.

I’m not asking for dealerships to roll out the pink carpet, but I want to be considered an equal partner in the decision-making process. I don’t have to fight my husband for that kind of consideration. So why am I a second thought to the guy who will eventually sell me MY car?

Come on guys, a little respect is the least this little lady deserves.