Press release

Both men and women ‘turned off’ by hyper-masculine advertising

92% of consumers surveyed agree car advertising is ‘too masculine’, and 77% of women say they were ‘put off’ buying as a result.

  • 94% of women don’t trust car dealers – 37% of women believe their dealership experience would be improved by employing more women in the car industry
  • Research is revealed as Auto Trader launches ‘The REV Test’, a new web TV series fronted by an all-female car review trio

Hyper-masculine’ marketing and other advertising is turning off both male and female consumers, according to a new study and an in-depth panel review of the UK’s top car brands and review websites.

The unique new study by Auto Trader, the UK’s largest digital automotive marketplace for new and used cars, suggests 87% of Brits feel increasingly disconnected from car marketing, with almost three-quarters (73%) agreeing that car adverts personify gender stereotypes or are directed to appeal exclusively to men.

65% of car buyers interviewed (77% of women but also 58% of men) said they found gender stereotypes in car advertising off-putting, suggesting that hyper-masculinity in the automotive industry could be having a significant impact on buying decisions, as well as consumer attitudes towards different car models and brands.

82% of consumers surveyed agreed that luxury sport car brandsare most guilty of being too masculine in their advertising, followed by adverts for SUVs (69%) and marketing for premium car brands (71%). In contrast, only 17% of consumers agreed that adverts for city cars (hatchbacks) suffer with hyper-masculinity, compared to 19% for mass production models such as the Ford Fiesta.

Women form a significant and growing proportion of the car market. Female car ownership reached a new record level of 11.8 million vehicles in 2017 (SMMT), and the number of women car owners is growing faster than men (DVLA). The number of female registered keepers of cars has increased by 66% since 1996, compared with an increase of only 23% in male keepers. Yet despite this, 76% of female drivers surveyed don’t believe that car brands currently understand a woman’s car buying needs.

‘The REV Test’

To help ‘tip the balance back’ towards a gender-neutral industry, Auto Trader has launched ‘The REV Test’ – a new web TV series led by an all-female editorial review team.

Erin Baker, Editorial Director of Auto Trader, developed the new concept of a weekly test of three new cars, presented by women, and based around the real shopping list for consumers, whether they’re men or women.

Erin Baker teamed up with former racing driver and television presenter Vicki Butler-Henderson, and automotive journalist Rachael Hogg, to offer perspectives that appeal to ‘real life people’ – from ‘Gen Z’ and millennials to baby boomers, with genuine, honest, relatable and plain English reviews, that still celebrate their genuine love of cars and driving. She called it ‘The REV Test’.

The first episode from ‘The Rev Test’ is available to view on Auto Trader’s official YouTube channel, where a new episode will be published every week. Future REV Test car reviews and car group tests will cover several different categories from sports to electric, small cars to seven seaters and hybrids to hot hatches, plus much more.

Diversity in dealerships vital to growth

The negative sentiment towards new car marketing extends to the physical buying experience too. The panel believe one of the major contributing factors behind their poor experiences of the automotive industry is a lack of gender diversity, not only in senior roles making key decisions, but also at the coal face at dealerships. Over a third (35%) of women visiting a dealership noticed there were very few, if any, female salespeople or staff.

This lack of diversity left 13% of women finding the in-store experience an uncomfortable one, and staggeringly, 94% of women don’t trust car dealerships. It’s not surprising either. A quarter (25%) of women felt that sales staff made presumptions about what they were looking for, compared to just 7% of men, and more than twice as many women (11% vs 5%) felt they were talked down to. Most alarmingly, 15% of women said that the salesperson didn’t acknowledge them at all and only talked to the man.

Le Etta Pearce, Auto Trader’s Group Sales Director, commented: As an industry we should be very concerned by these findings. More than a third of cars in the UK are registered to women, and not only are they the key influencers in purchasing decisions, but more often than not, women are the end user too. What’s more, with women soon to be owning 60% of private wealth globally, more women than ever are financially independent, and that trend is only set to increase. So why, in today’s challenging marketplace where every sale counts, are we still failing to market to women correctly?

Nearly 40% of women believe that greater diversity across the industry would create a better experience at dealerships for women. So, whilst our research clearly paints a disappointing picture, it does highlight the huge opportunities available to both manufacturers and retailers. Attracting and retaining more female decision makers, marketers and salespeople will not only help drive innovation and creativity across automotive, but it will be vital to growth in the months and years ahead.”  

For further information, please contact:

Andrew Nankervis, Auto Trader, Andrew.Nankervis@autotrader.co.uk, 0203 747 7038

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