OPINION | Women know what they want, and automakers should take note of their influence

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Women are big role players in the automotive industry
Women are big role players in the automotive industry

Many car manufacturers haven't been very successful at making cars 'with women in mind'.

New Women's World Car of the Year wasn't something with a matching rain cape, hand bag or lipstick.

• 80% of car-buying decisions are influenced by women, so manufacturers need to take note of their preferences.

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In 1955, a car manufacturer launched a car specifically designed for women.  It featured floral upholstery and matching accessories, including a rain cape, handbag, lipstick and compact. Needless to say, it wasn't a hit amongst the ladies who saw straight through its offensive and stereotypical ruse. 

Decades later, another car manufacturer launched a car for women in, you guessed it, pink. It featured a windscreen designed to block harmful UV rays, helping to keep the driver wrinkle-free and a "plasmacluster" air conditioning system that apparently improves skin quality. Again, women were not impressed.  

The Women's World Car of the Year results have recently been released, and thankfully, there wasn't a pink car in sight. In fact, the winner, voted by a majority of 50 women motoring journalists from 38 countries on five continents, was a very unisex Land Rover Defender, chosen for its technology and comfort.

Considering that women influence 80% of car-buying decisions, manufacturers should take note. But, there is a very fine line between appealing to women and patronising them.

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Buying a new car

What do women want?

Now that we know that pink cars with pastel seat covers and headrests designed to accommodate ponytails won't hit the mark, what do women want in cars?

Women want the same things everyone wants in a car - durability and reliability. Studies show that safety is of primary importance to women when buying a car, followed by vehicle performance and economy - both in the price, fuel efficiency, and running costs. Women also feel strongly about how their cars affect the environment.

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A recent study conducted by BuyaCar.co.uk found that women approach car buying with a more practical head than men, who tend to care more about the image of the cars they choose. While men have made black their first colour of choice recently, women continue to choose white first. 

Choosing which car to buy is an emotional decision. We all want to drive a car that makes us feel happy, proud, and says something about who we are. But, for all intents and purposes, you should buy a vehicle that suits your needs, and one that you can not only afford to buy but also keep on the road.

What is the biggest factor you consider when purchasing a vehicle? Email us your opinion or use the comment section below.

Women are big role players in the automotive industry

Decisions when buying a car

1st for Women advises using the following tips when making the very important decision to buy a car:

• Research carefully: Read reviews of cars available online and in magazines and newspapers, in order to be as informed as possible when comparing the various features of the cars.

• Set your price target: Once you have found the average selling price of the vehicle you are thinking of buying, do not pay above that average unless you want special options included.

• Calculate your costs: Before you visit a car dealership or shopping online, you need to determine how much you can pay, after factoring in how long you are willing to make car payments. Look at your budget carefully and be realistic about how much you can afford to spend on car instalments and running costs.

• Needs analysis: Make sure that the car you are considering buying is a logical fit your needs.

• Resale value: Look at the resale value of the make of car you're eyeing. With fuel prices volatile and on the rise, cars with large engines, poor fuel economy and high running costs generally don't resale well.

• Shop around: Never jump at the first deal. An informed decision can make the difference between a great buy and an expensive mistake.

Seugnette van Wyngaard is the head of 1st for Women Insurance.

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Searching for a new car online

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