SMMT publishes ”Women and motoring” research.

06 June 2007 #SMMT News

SMMT publishes Women and Motoring research


  • 61 per cent of women either made or had significant input into the car buying decision in their household, compared to 75 per cent of men
  • Emissions are less important to all buyers than price and running costs
  • 26 per cent of women, who have been in a car showroom in the last two years,  recall seeing colour-coded eco-labels, compared to 22 per cent of men


When it comes to the environment, safety, and the car buying experience, there are clear differences between the attitudes of younger and older women motorists. That’s one of the findings in Women and Motoring, a report commissioned by SMMT based on an Ipsos MORI omnibus survey1 and focus group discussions.2


The focus groups explored different attitudes to motoring in the under-40 and over-40 age groups. While discussions are illustrative, rather than statistically representative, they provide food for thought for car makers and dealers.


On the environment

Both older and younger women place environmental factors towards the bottom of the agenda when buying a car. However, there is more concern about the environmental impact of motoring among the under-40s. Younger women seemed more willing to consider buying vehicles with lower CO2 emitting technologies. Older buyers were dismissive of their role in limiting emissions and there was some uncertainty about how alternative technologies, like electric-hybrid cars, work.


On responsibility to deliver cleaner cars

The over-40 group felt that manufacturers are responsible, exclusively, for delivering cleaner cars onto the road. Members of the younger group however, acknowledged that consumer action also had a part to play: if people won’t buy the cars, manufacturers simply won’t make them.


On safety

There was a real sense, both among older and younger women, that safety comes as standard with new cars, so they don’t see this as a priority when buying a new or nearly-new car. However, older drivers seem more wary about how safety systems operate, particularly airbags. More mature women also preferred larger cars, assuming that safety is synonymous with larger vehicles, but also partly for practical reasons.


On buying a car

Younger women seemed to have a more positive experience at dealerships than those in the older age group. Discussions also revealed little to suggest that women felt they were treated differently to men, despite showrooms being dominated by male staff. Younger women seemed more confident in doing a deal, bargaining hard and sorting out any issues. They were also more likely to visit a dealer alone whereas older women were more likely to take a partner.


On price/running costs/appearance and congestion

There were many areas where age seemed irrelevant to womens’ views. On buying a car, whether new or used, price, appearance, style and colour topped the agenda. Running costs were also high on the radar. On congestion measures, both groups felt the finger could be firmly pointed at the school-run for causing the majority of jams. They were also suspicious of road charging schemes and there was no support for the London congestion charge.


‘Our findings show nearly as many women are buying cars as men. So manufacturers and dealers ignore their views at their peril,’ said SMMT chief executive, Christopher Macgowan. ‘I’m pleased to note that younger women in particular are generally having a good experience in dealerships. However, the industry probably needs to work on explaining technological progress to more mature drivers, both in terms of safety and environmental technologies. We also need to continue to work with government to raise ‘environment’ up the agenda for all car buyers.’


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