When it comes to which brand of car to buy, men tend to be more swayed by what they discover online while women are influenced far more by what they see and feel in real life.
(Torque‘s editor prefers buying his cars from women rather than men, but that’s another story.)
In a recent survey of 500 respondents here, global advertising giant Dentsu found that men and women are influenced differently at various stages of the car-buying process.
Consumers were asked to rate different channels of influence at three stages of the buying process: considering whether to buy a car or not; deciding what car to buy; and deciding where to buy it and how much to spend.
Mr Nick Licence, regional strategic planning director of Dentsu Aegis Network, says: “The differences between men and women become more pronounced as they close in on the final purchase.
“At the ‘what car to buy’ stage, the channel with the most impact among women is word-of-mouth, followed by seeing cars in a showroom. For men, car brand and comparison websites are the most influential factors.”
The survey found that while online media hold strong persuasive power, traditional media are almost just as powerful. Advertisements found in car magazines, for instance, had just as many votes as online searches. Both tie as the third biggest channel of influence.
Newspaper advertisements are not far behind, garnering 31 per cent of men’s votes and 25 per cent of women’s votes. These figures outpace those for channels such as TV programme sponsorship, general online advertisements and social network postings.
That may explain why Volkswagen enjoys strong sales despite several negative online postings made by customers who have encountered problems with their VWs in recent years. Last year, the German brand emerged fourth in the sales race, with 2,522 new cars registered – trailing BMW (3,239), Mercedes-Benz (4,651) and bestseller Toyota (5,431).
In fact, online media make up less than half (eight) of the top 20 channels of influence in the Dentsu poll – a tad ironic, as the survey was done exclusively online.
The survey, with a sample split equally between the sexes, is believed to be the first of its kind here. Singapore is one of six South-east Asian markets Dentsu polled. Like Singapore, each one had 500 respondents, who answered the questionnaire via the keyboard.
Mr Licence observes: “There are differences in the types of media that influence women between markets, although ultimately we see that women tend to be more influenced by tangible and experiential channels.”
In Thailand, for instance, “consumers rate motorshows as the biggest influence during the ‘what car to buy’ stage, with women rating their impact higher than men”.
Mr Licence says one key lesson from the study is that “as more marketing dollars are shifted to digital, it’s important to understand the role it plays”, especially when the women’s role in the car- buying decision process is growing and non-digital channels generally hold more sway over them.