The fastest growing segment of the online car purchase market in 2015 was women.
Growth in the number of women buying new and used cars without visiting a dealership was more than double that of men compared with buyer behaviour figures for 2014, according to the latest analysis by Buyacar.co.uk.
In 2015 Buyacar saw a 58% increase in the number of women bypassing the dealer and clicking to buy a car online, compared with growth of 29% among males.
The company – which generates sales orders for large franchise dealer groups – attributes the disproportionately rapid growth of female buyers to a growing preference among women for the online purchase experience rather than the traditional showroom and forecourt environment.
Research consistently highlights the concerns of women with the traditional car buying process and the latest study by consumer statistics specialist Mintel last year – ‘Car Purchasing Process -UK – April 2015’ – confirmed a strong discrepancy between women’s and men’s experience of the standard car purchase process.
And last week, the consumer experience consultants Different Spin ('Does Automotive Fail Women?') made headline news with the results of a survey of 48,000 women which concluded that women are three times more likely than men to experience dealers negatively and that 90% would not visit a dealership without a man to accompany them.
The Buyacar.co.uk figures confirm a faster drift from bricks to clicks among female purchasers of cars than for men, with the business stressing that the change was ‘organic’ and that it took no steps to target women in particular during 2015.
Austin Collins, managing director and co-founder of Buyacar.co.uk, said: “When we analysed the change between 2014 and 2015 it was clear that the real story behind our increased sales on behalf of dealers was a surge in interest among women over the past 12 months.
“What was all the more remarkable about this was that we made no attempt to tailor our advertising or marketing toward women in particular – this movement was entirely organic.
“There is no shortage of data in the industry suggesting that women are increasingly calling the shots on family car purchase decisions but research also regularly suggests that women report a sub-optimal experience of the traditional car dealership environment and sales process.
“Our interpretation of the surge in female users of Buyacar.co.uk is that it reflects a growing trend among women to take greater control of the car purchase experience for themselves and bypass the traditional process if they can.
“It is certainly time the industry stopped talking about women as a niche customer segment and recognises that they are increasingly driving overall market growth, as the online purchase evidence shows.”