At the turn of the 20th Century old-time Ford advertisements told a quaint story of a woman as a fragile creature, somewhat prone to panic, in need of a simple automobile that even she could operate. Times have definitely changed. Ford vehicles are still durable and easy to handle, but the women behind the wheel bear little resemblance to meek flower of yesteryear. Today's woman is strong, self-assured, and very capable of taking care of herself.
"Women pack a powerful punch" said Christine Stasiw Lazarchuk, director of global marketing and research for Ford. Statistics prove her point. "Women are directly responsible for 45 to 50 percent of all new vehicles purchased in the United States, and they have a direct influence of up to 80 percent of vehicles they don't purchase themselves." And 65 percent of women take their own vehicles to the dealership or shop to repair. Women account for a whopping $85 million in automotive and related
Sheryl Connelly, Ford's global trend manager sees five major global factors driving the change in the shift of women's roles in car buying.
- Improved education: The gender gap in education continues to narrow, allowing women to find their way into the work force. In the United States, the number of women earning a Ph.D. is rising at a rate of 63 percent.
- Career Opportunities: With more education, women are finding their way into the work force, earning their own money.
- Financial Independence: Increased earning power is leading to financial independence for more women. Working women often out earn their partners by 25 percent in the United
- Delayed marriage and parenthood: More and more women are choosing to delay marriage to pursue education, career and personal development, with many choosing to have fewer children later in life.
- Media: The spread of information in the media, particularly the internet has empowered women. About half of women worldwide own their own computers.
As the world changes, women obviously change with it. When the economy began to crumble, many women took a leading role in keeping the home front together- either going back to work or taking over the belt tightening of the budget. Gender roles have blurred. The definitive roles as the man as the breadwinner and the woman staying at home are no longer clear.
With the roles of today's women changing Ford's marketing team is charged with reaching target demographics that include, of course the specific needs and wants of women. It is important to note that Ford does not design cars for the sexes. Ford designs well-made, well-designed cars with features that appeal to both men and women. Ford recognizes that men and women often express their desires for a car differently. Women may express that they do not want to be stranded by a car that is broken down, whereas a man may state that he does not want to have to deal with car troubles or maintenance. Females also tend to notice details like warmer interior colors, or hand stitching, and they are willing to pay extra for them.
"There is a great growth potential for companies that understand what women want" Connelly stated. "At Ford, we know that women represent a huge market opportunity, and we work to design, develop and market our products and services in a way that captures the attention of the incredibly influential buying group."