Women have more say than you’d think in the acquisition of the family automobile Emma Bangay discovers in a series of exclusive interviews at the 2014 Paris Mondial De Automobile.
Excuse me for generalizing, but women can traditionally be regarded as ‘bag women’ or ‘shoe gals’, a ‘morning person’ or a ‘night owl’.
And when it comes to cars, you’re either behind the wheel, or not.
I’m generally not. A car is a car, right? Four wheels, four doors, two directions you can point it?
Well, that is what I thought until I was whisked to 2014 Paris Mondial De Automobile (Paris Motor Show) with GM Holden to get an insiders view on why women are actually driving the car purchases more than men, and how my senses – even subconsciously – may have steered the course of my own families car purchases in recent years.
Yet, heading to Paris with a group of car enthusiasts, I still wasn’t convinced I wouldn’t be stifling my screams in the closest croissant hot bed to escape overzealous stories of suspension and steering, engine cooling and omission systems.
So, when I finally arrived at the 2014 Paris Mondial De Automobile –- to be met with car prototypes stamped with Stella McCartney monikers and engine bodies emblazoned with bedazzled D&G monograms – I realized that maybe I was in the right place after all?
The expansive 2014 Paris Motor Show – the most visited show in the world – proved akin to a red carpet for rev heads – or at least the 10,000 or so accredited journalists from over 103 countries invited.
Pictured: Holden EFIJY, a gorgeous custom coupe designed to pay homage to Australia’s most famous car, the FJ Holden. The passion project of Holden Chief Designer, Richard Ferlazzo is unfortunately only a prototype…so keep shopping ladies!
Premiering over 100 cars and sneak peeks of the wheels the well tread will be behind in coming years, it only seemed fitting that GM’s own European ‘Opel’ brand was fronted by Claudia Schiffer. And yes, she did look like the most elegant and divine deer in the car headlights.
There were more bells, whistles and wildly loud music than any Hollywood party, and as I took it in from the sidelines sipping on my Café Allongé, it was easy to see why these incredibly contemporary designs could seduce the female customer. (Was that butterflies I was feeling from spying all that shiny Duco? Or simply too many escargot the evening before?)
“Women’s purchasing power is in the trillions of dollars,” Sandy Myhre, lauded car journalist and author and founder of Women’s World Car of The Year Awards whispered to me from the sidelines. “And that’s growing.”
Is it ever. Holden research has found that women made up nearly 80 percent of car purchase decisions – a significant figure that car companies can no longer ignore.
Until now, many companies have been marketing to women incorrectly Sandy tells me. “They are marketing it as they always do –by putting a woman in a blokes suit.”
But finally, the automobile industry is steering a different, more feminine course, adds Sandy, telling me that for women, purchases are far more dependent on sensorial and emotional reactions, rather than how many clicks there are on the clock.
“Within the judging process for the Women’s World Car of The Year Awards, one of their criteria is ‘gut feel,” she explains. “We say to the female judges, when in doubt go with your gut feel.”
Speaking exclusively to RESCU, Karl-Thomas Neumann, Executive VP and President of GM Europe, concurs that men – and an increasing number of women at the top of these companies – are paying more attention to instinct when marketing automobiles.
But changes have been far more entrenched than simply within the pigment of the paint or the heat within the seats, he notes, adding that GM now has several female board members to boost “female power” as well as a women heading up the marketing machine of the business. “We are getting much better and we give it a lot of focus now,” he says,
As I continued to wander through the Paris Motor Show, it became increasingly obvious that I had it all wrong. Cars are just as much for women as men – if not more. We ferry kids around to school, sports and social gatherings, not to mention wear a well-worn path between home and work, business meetings and last minute grocery runs.
Therefore, it makes perfect sense that we should be doing so in a fabulous car of our choice, that we love as much as our favourite designer shoes or chic clutch, and that makes us feel at home, even on the road.
And there it was. As I made my way home from the airport after touchdown in my own humble horseless carriage, I realised that sometimes – like with escargot and pain au chocolat – when it comes to choosing your next car, don’t be too sensible and just go with your gut!
Watch the launch featuring supermodel Claudia Schiffer below:
Image: EFIJY 2005 Holden Concept Car courtesy of Holden Australia