Dealer pressure driving female customers away, survey finds

Car dealers need to do more to provide a welcoming environment for everyone, according to new research from Close Brothers Motor Finance.

Even though women represent more than half of UK driving licence holders, the survey of over 2,000 UK drivers suggests that pressure from car dealers is pushing female customers away.

The Britain Under the Bonnet report found that women are more likely to feel pressured into making a purchase at a dealership than men. One in five women said the dealer put pressure on them to make a decision when purchasing their last car, compared with one in seven men.

Women are about as likely as men to say they were happy with the price offered (83% women vs 84% men), expertise of their dealer (78% vs 75%) and range of stock (81% vs 81%), but despite this women are more likely to look elsewhere when considering a car purchase.

The research revealed that women are less likely to buy a car from a car dealership (70% women vs 73% men) — especially a new car dealership (37% vs 46%) — and more likely to buy from a private seller (14% vs 11%). They’re also more likely to do their own independent research on websites such as Autotrader (38% vs 35%), get advice from their friends and family (39% vs 25%), or consult social media (12% vs 8%) when researching their next car.

Men, on the other hand, are more likely to take the advice of dealers and their websites (67% vs 64%) or look at commentary in motoring magazines (17% vs 10%).

Of the 200 new and used dealerships surveyed for the report, a quarter (25%) said they are making active efforts to attract and engage female customers — for example by stocking particular types of vehicle, deliberately hiring female staff, and using targeted marketing (particularly on social media).

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

“It’s vital that dealers put some thought into making the showroom an enjoyable experience for this ever-growing audience,” said Rebecca McNeil, CEO of Close Brothers Motor Finance.

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