Shopping for a new car? Here's a tip: Toss the sexist stereotypes and learn from the ladies.
Women not only buy more cars now, they also continue to influence what men buy. "I would think that you would ignore women at your peril," says Carroll Lachnit, features editor at the car-shopping site Edmunds.com.
More importantly, women may be more thorough. With the growth of online vehicle-shopping sites, researchers have been able to mine more data about men's and women's shopping behavior.
"We're seeing very strong BS meters apply to car shopping today, and we're seeing women to be the one to apply it," says Nicole Yelland, of the car-shopping site Autotrader.
If you're a man in the market for a new car, first see what you can expect to pay for coverage by using our average car insurance rates tool, then consider sending your female bestie to the lot. Read through the following seven items to learn why.
1.Women research, research, research
Online vehicle valuation and shopping site Kelley Blue Book (KBB) surveyed its readers, then, with their gender known, tracked which pages each viewed and for how long.
The results, released in 2015, were stark. Women not only spent more time researching car purchases online, an average of 75 days compared to 63 days for men, they also spent nearly three times longer per visit on hard research, 10.4 minutes compared with 3.8 minutes for the men.
"That's pretty significant," says Hwei-Lin Oetken, KBB's vice president of strategic insights. "It also begs the question: Why is that?"
Women spent 56 percent more time pricing vehicles, 53 percent more time reading ratings and reviews, 45 percent more time doing side-by-side vehicle comparisons, and 18 percent more time building consideration sets.
Both genders spent the same amount of time on the site. But men spent more time reading general automotive articles and looking at photos of cars and trucks they weren't considering buying.
"It's really a mindset issue. Men, being men, say, I'm pretty knowledgeable, I know cars," Oetken says. "But only 41 percent of women say they feel knowledgeable when shopping for cars."
2.Women stick to their price
When Oetken shared KBB's gender data with dealers, one group asked, "Who gets the best deals on price?"
KBB didn't have that data, so Oetken turned the question back on them: "You tell me."
"Clearly," they answered, "it's the women."
"What was surprising to me was how unanimous it was," she recalls. "All the people who spoke up said, Yes, it's the women who get the better deal."
A 2011 analysis by LeaseTrader, a car-lease swapping site, confirmed that women generally secured better prices.
Women are more likely to have a price in mind before arriving at the dealership, an earlier KBB study found.
"Women go in armed with the information. They know exactly what they want," says Oetken. "Men were more likely to be swayed by other things. They go out for the best deal, but in the end they end up being upsold."
3.Women are practical
The LeaseTrader study, which found women secured a better deal, also noted that women were
more likely to demand a vehicle inspection and to ask about a vehicle's accident history and functional components. Men tended to focus on a car's image, technology and driving performance.
Both sexes tend to place a high value on safety and durability when purchasing, the KBB survey found. When
it came to additional features, women were more likely to seek fuel efficiency, driving performance and reputation, whereas men looked to interior layout, exterior styling, technology and ruggedness.
Furthermore, terms like "driving performance" can signal different values. Women defined "driving performance" as "reliability." Men chose to define it as "prestige."
"Men, when they pick a car they are thinking about image: What kind of image does this portray about my accomplishments in life?" says Oetken. "Women don't think like that. They think, 'What's going to get me from Point A to Point B?'"
4.Women weigh the long-term costs
The little Honda Fit, which the EPA says gets 41 mpg on the highway, is all-around one of the most economical cars to own. It's no coincidence that eight out of ten owners are women.
When Road & Travel Magazine compiled a list of vehicles with the highest percentage of female primary drivers, it found it ripe with "some of the smallest, least expensive cars available," such as the Honda Fit, the Kia Spectra and the Toyota Yaris.
Furthermore, three of the cars most popular with women were among the top five cars ranked as the least expensive to own: the fifth-ranked Nissan Versa (60.58 percent female owned), the fourth-ranked Toyota Yaris (61.86 percent) and the top-ranked Honda Fit (80.46 percent), the magazine reported.
Even among wealthy buyers, women favored affordability, opting for some of the least-expensive luxury models. "By contrast," Road & Driver reported, "the luxury vehicles with the highest percentage of male drivers are among the priciest, fastest and flashiest around."
5.Women over-prepare to compensate for low confidence
Researchers believe there's at least one reason women do more research before buying a car: They think they need to.
In a recent survey by car-shopping site Edmunds.com, 72 percent of men said they felt confident in the "ins and outs of buying a vehicle," whereas only 57 percent of women did. Similarly, 73 percent of men said they felt confident negotiating with a car dealer, while 58 percent of women did.
KBB's survey found that 58 percent of men expressed overall confidence in the car-buying arena, compared with just 38 percent of women.
Anne Fleming, president of WomenDrivers.com, has surveyed only the women, and says that "confidence" ranks fourth among sentiments women experience when buying a car, right behind "apprehension" and "nervousness."
"They want to get it right," Fleming says. "They're more nervous."
6.Women shop dealers
Women don't only care what car they buy, but who they buy it from.
"They rely on reputation management -- or you would call it car dealer reviews -- about 50 percent more than men," says Fleming.
Her surveys at WomenDrivers.com have found that women visit an average of 1.9 dealerships when shopping for a car, whereas men visit 1.4. Women will travel 16 miles to buy from a dealer they like, often bypassing closer lots. Young women, the millennials, will travel 21 miles.
"Price is not the top factor," says Fleming. "It is the trustworthiness, the respect provided. The relationship with the sales advisor is the No. 1 reason that a woman buys from a dealership."
Women are also more keenly evaluating where they will likely be returning for service, and choosing what they deem to be the most reputable provider, she said.
7.Women are open to change
One in five men knows the exact vehicle he wants, the KBB study found. Women, however, are twice as likely to be undecided.
Women, however, will have a longer list of desired car features, other experts say.
"Men know exactly what they want," says Heidi Webster, who operates an independent auto-buying service, the Amazing Autowoman, in Seattle, and shops mostly for men. Women may have five cars in mind, she says, and want to further evaluate which will best meet their needs.
When men and women were asked how they'd react if a vehicle they were considering had been briefly pulled from the market due to a recall, only 8 percent of men said they would cross the vehicle off their list; 44 percent of women would.
"It's not surprising to me that women are popping up as very discerning shoppers," says Yelland, of Autotrader.