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Car dealer pressure pushing female customers away

Written by: Emma Lunn
Women feel more pressurised than men to make a decision in the car showroom, according to Close Brothers Motor Finance.

When purchasing their last car, one in five women (19 per cent) said the dealer put pressure on them to make a decision, compared with just one in seven men (14 per cent).

Close Brothers’ report titled Britain Under the Bonnet found women are about as likely as men to say they were happy with the price offered (83 per cent women vs 84 per cent men), expertise of their dealer (78 per cent vs 75 per cent) and range of stock (81 per cent vs 81 per cent), but despite this their actions suggest they’re more likely to look elsewhere when making a purchase.

According to the report, women are less likely to buy a car from a car dealership (70 per cent women vs 73 per cent men) – especially a new car dealership (37 per cent vs 46 per cent) – and more likely to buy from a private seller (14 per cent vs 11 per cent).

They’re also more likely to do their own independent research on websites such as Autotrader (38 per cent vs 35 per cent), get advice from their friends and family (39 per cent vs 25 per cent), or consult social media (12 per cent vs 8 per cent) when researching their next car.

Men, on the other hand, are more likely to take the advice of dealers and their websites (67 per cent vs 64 per cent) or rely on commentary from motor magazines (17 per cent vs 10 per cent).

Posing this issue directly to dealers, a quarter (25 per cent) are making active efforts to attract and engage female customers. Initiatives include stocking particular types of vehicle, deliberately hiring female staff, and using targeted marketing (particularly on social media).

However, of the 75 per cent of dealers not putting initiatives in place, four in 10 don’t believe there’s a problem in the first place, and 63 per cent saying they did not feel they needed to as they already had a lot of female customers.

Rebecca McNeil, CEO of Close Brothers Motor Finance, said: “After years of assuming it was only men you should be talking to in order to sell cars, a changing landscape has prompted really positive developments across the industry. The number of women drivers is growing faster than men such that they now make up the majority of drivers on our roads, and they are more likely to be the key decision maker when purchasing a car. It’s vital that dealers put some thought into making the showroom an enjoyable experience for this ever-growing audience.

“Dealers remain by some distance the preferred source of information when researching a car, particularly for EVs and AFVs where sales are growing fastest. However, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of what best suits their specific needs, financial or otherwise. The onus on dealers is to ensure the offer put to all customers continues to be the right one, be that the right stock, dealer experience, or finance promotion.”

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