Hannah Keshishian
Hannah Keshishian is an Automotive Analyst at Mintel. She provides insights into the automotive industry and focuses on emerging consumer trends, industry happenings, and the latest vehicle advancements.

Female consumers buy cars. This sounds like a no-brainer, right? According to Mintel research on the car buying process, more than nine in 10 American households reported having at least one vehicle and despite the 59% of female consumers that say they plan to purchase their next vehicle within the next three years, automakers are still catering to a male-focused consumer base which has left more than two in five female car buyers feeling like second-class car buyers.

Male and female consumers have a need for a personal vehicle and nearly two-thirds of female consumers said that a personal vehicle is the most reliable way to get around, according to Mintel research on alternative transportation in the US. However, female consumers have been widely painted as uninterested and uneducated when it comes to cars.

The reality is that this couldn’t be further from the truth. According to an upcoming Mintel report on female car consumers, half of female consumers said they know more about cars than they’re given credit for and only 3% of women said they don’t plan to be involved in their next vehicle purchase. When it comes to large financial investments, like purchasing a car, female consumers aren’t at all likely to check out and pass that responsibility onto anyone else. Female consumers are leaning into their vehicle purchasing power and they’re asking for more from automakers.

Underrepresented in the auto industry

More than half of female car buyers said they want to see more female spokespeople, while more than two in five said they want to see more women featured in car campaigns. Female consumers want to be seen as individuals, not just mothers or wives. More than half of female consumers said automakers have outdated views on female car buyers.

Working to better understand female car buyers isn’t only important because it’s the right thing to do; automakers have a financial investment in bettering their relationship with female consumers. According to Mintel research on creating loyalty in automotive, more than two in five female consumers said they purchased their current vehicle from a different brand as their previous. In other words, female car buyers are exploring brands hoping that the next automaker will give them what they need at the brand and vehicle level.

Female car buyers are exploring brands hoping that the next automaker will give them what they need at the brand and vehicle level.

Automakers don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make female consumers feel that they matter. Automakers can make proactive changes like including more women in marketing campaigns, providing comprehensive breakdowns of vehicle prices, and approaching female car buyers as individuals, not just by their gender. Automakers have the ability to fix their fractured relationship with female consumers. Automakers stand to gain significant market share if they change their ways and start putting forth a more female-friendly marketing approach. It takes one automaker to demonstrate the investment in female car buyers and assuredly female consumers will take notice and likely increase their purchase consideration of that brand.

What we think

Automakers need to be more aligned with the modern female consumer, rather than appealing to women by using outdated stereotypes. Female consumers buy cars and make their purchase decisions based on how automakers present themselves and what kind of vehicles they produce. Automakers would be wise to remember this the next time they try to mass-appeal to female consumers.