Honda She’s Provides Some Gender Lessons


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In 2012 Honda launched the Honda Fit “She’s” model in Japan. As the name suggests it was squarely targeted at women and featured a pink key, pink gold chrome finishes, and pink stitching on the seats. A special windshield blocked out the sun’s damaging rays and “plasmacluster air conditioning technology” made sure the climate inside the vehicle was good for the skin.

Some may dismiss this as being sexist. Others see it as astute marketing. Interestingly enough, those in the former camp were primarily residing in North America. In Asia, where this doesn’t seem to be as much an issue, the vehicle has been received well. Other products specifically targeted at women have fared well in that part of the world including Fujitsu’s “Floral Kiss” laptop and LG’s “Lady Card Visa.” I have no logical explanation for the success of Hello Kitty

It seems that in North America, marketing to women ebbs and flow. We regularly do presentations for the C-Suite and depending on the year, it seems that it’s either high on the executives’ agenda, or it’s not even on the radar screen. Even though I’m not convinced something like the Honda She’s would work over here, I believe tailoring an element of your marketing plan to women is something to consider to increase volume in 2013.

This conclusion is based on two things: market size and recognizing men and women can buy for different reasons.

The following shows the principal driver gender split for some key segments in the US and Canada:

Male Female
Subcompact 39% 61%
Compact 52% 48%
Sports Car 62% 38%
Male Female
Subcompact 46% 54%
Compact 49% 51%
Sports Car 72% 28%

From a market size of market standpoint, some segments clearly have a higher proportion of female drivers and this needs to be considered at both the corporate and dealer levels. On the other hand, from the numbers, it doesn’t make as much sense for specifically targeting women in luxury segments.

Getting tactical, what about doing a female-only dealership event (especially for drivers of sub-compact and compact cars) that invites women back to the store so the servicing of their new vehicle can be explained and questions asked without fear of being intimidated by a male gear head who happens to be in the audience? What a great way to engage women with the dealership.

Men and women can buy for different reasons. From Maritz‘ New Vehicle Customer Study that analyzed the buying behavior of 125,000 consumers in the US and 40,000 in Canada we found that some purchase motivators are common, but differences do exist that astute manufacturers and dealers can use to their advantage.

For example, in Canada we know in the compact segment, women are statistically more motivated by Price / Cost to Buy, Reliability & Dependability, Rebate & Low Interest Rate, Exterior Styling, and Interior Comfort. For men in the segment Manufacturer’s Reputation, Engine Performance, Technical Innovations, and Future Resale Value come to the top of the list.

In the US for the same segment, women are statistically more attracted by Reliability & Dependability, Safety Features, and Previous Experience with the Model. For men, it’s Fuel Economy, Value for Money, and Fun To Drive.

Where would this make a difference at the dealership? One practical way is for the salesperson to adjust their walk around depending on the gender of the customer. Running with our example above, if a woman is looking at a Focus or Corolla or Civic (i.e., a compact car) salespeople would have a greater chance of making the pitch resonate with the female customer if they emphasized the points mentioned above.

These small refinements in the sales process can increase the salesperson’s closing percentage and reinforce for the female customer why it was a good decision to buy the vehicle she did. And this can only be good for volume.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Chris Travell
Chris Travell is VP, Strategic Consulting for the Automotive Group of Maritz Research. He is responsible for working with Maritz' Insight Teams to further the understanding and application of the firm's automotive research. He has appeared on numerous television programs and is often quoted in Automotive News, Time, USA Today, Edmunds, Detroit Free Press, The Globe and Mail and various other publications in regard to issues related to the North American automotive industry. He is the principal contributor to The Ride Blog, Maritz Research's automotive blog.


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