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April 12, 2018Car Brands Losing Traction With Female Audience

Historically, it’s no secret that ad campaigns and the overall focus of the automotive industry has been geared towards the male consumer. While at one point this may have been a product of buying trends, to look at current statistics shows how outdated this approach is.

Following analysis from AI technology company Quantcast, it’s clear that a hefty divide between male and female still exists in the automotive industry. This is despite the fact that – for the past few decades – the number of female car owners has seen a strong, steady increase.

Motoring stereotypes

Quantcast analysed thousands of advertisements, including a cross section from the automotive industry. Overall, the findings show that motoring brands seem to be hung up with targeting a predominantly male audience, without trying to capitalise on a thriving female market.

Advertising has grappled with gender stereotypes for a while – it’s an easy way for companies to target a large segment of their audience without much risk. However, this has undergone drastic change in recent years. Motoring seems to be one sector that finds it difficult to move away from the worn out ‘male gearhead’ cliche. Car adverts are often designed to use what are seen as largely ‘male themes’, while ignoring a more inclusive approach.

Advertising in the car industry

The analysis performed by Quantcast was done so by an AI. First, the AI needed to define what kind of abstract ‘themes’ were classed as being targeted at men, and which were for women. Once this was finalised, the adverts could be properly investigated.

For the motoring sector, the following abstract themes were identified as female-focused:

  • Bonding/togetherness
  • Journey
  • Luggage
  • Adventure

And these were the themes for men:

  • Business
  • Road
  • Speed
  • Fast

The AI poured through advertisements to see how often these themes appeared. The findings were striking. For women, ‘luggage’ was the most common theme, appearing in 0.55% of ads. For men, the most common was ‘business’ which made it into 27% of ads. For more perspective, the least common male theme was ‘fast’, and that was seen in 16% of ads. That’s almost a 200% difference.

What does this mean?

What this suggests is that motoring brands have put more time, effort and resources into finding out what appeals to the male side of consumers, and building ad campaigns around that. But as modern advertising adopts a more balanced view of its audiences – and society pushing for more equality in the media – why hasn’t the auto industry recognised its burgeoning female consumers?

It’s most likely a case of sticking to old, deeply-ingrained habits. As we said, it’s an easy way to advertise a product, but in the future it will be less so. That means it’s healthier from a business – and longevity – perspective for brands to change their approach. The faster the industry can move away from outdated – and oftentimes lazy – preconceptions, the more the market, and its public image, can grow.

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