What Matters to Women as Car Buyers

When women are in the market for a car, what’s the most important factor influencing their choice? Any men tempted to say “color” should sign up for a thought-rectification course. The correct answer, according to a newly released Ipsos Public Affairs survey of women conducted for CarMax, is “price.”

That was the factor cited by 33 percent of respondents to the polling, conducted in August. “Reliability” was the runner-up (cited by 29 percent), followed by “fuel efficiency” (19 percent). Fewer said the most important consideration would be “safety features” (9 percent) or “space and seating capacity (8 percent).

As you might expect, price was the chief factor for an above-average number of respondents with household income under $50,000, at 38 percent. It scored even higher among the poll’s women in the Midwest (42 percent).

Meanwhile, reliability scored best among women age 55 and older, with 32 percent of them picking it as the most important factor in their choice of a car. It also won above-average numbers of mentions from women in the Northeast (32 percent) and those who are college graduates (33 percent).

Though it was an also-ran among respondents in general, space/seating capacity fared significantly better among mothers who have kids under age 18. Seventeen percent of this cohort said it’s their primary consideration.

Another part of the survey looked at “major life events” that can prompt a woman to buy a new car. For six in 10, a big career change would be the event most likely to do the trick, whether it’s taking a new job (37 percent) or retiring (23 percent). Fifteen percent said getting pregnant or having an additional kid would be the life change most likely to trigger a car purchase.

Eleven percent said the same about a child of theirs becoming a driver. Ten percent said becoming an empty nester would be the event most likely to push them into the market for a new set of wheels. A divorce would do it for 3 percent.

Nielsen Business Media