We have all heard the term ‘chick flick’ – a movie that is designed specifically for females, that any self-respecting male would be hard pressed to admit to watching (but secretly rather enjoys). Or of course, the ubiquitous ‘chick drink’ – undeniably delicious, but not the most macho thing to be seen with on a boy’s night out.
In the motoring world, the terminology extends to include ‘chick cars’ – vehicles that have been deemed by the powers that be to be irreparably damaging to your masculinity. But perhaps that is a little harsh. Included in the list of ‘chick cars’ is the sleek and sexy Mazda MX5, as well as a couple of other sporty cars that many men, I am sure, would be more than happy to drive.
Regardless of your personal opinion on whether vehicles should be pigeon-holed as being predominantly suited for men or women, there are undeniable differences in the buyer characteristics for certain brands of cars, and there seem to be some models that are simply preferred by women. And on the other hand, others that are almost exclusively driven by men!
It may seem a little old fashioned, but certain car manufacturers intentionally drive their target market towards a particular gender, through the styling and advertising of the car. In particular, the Japanese and Korean car markets have seemed to gear themselves towards women, in their production of super compact, nippy cars with advertising featuring a girls night out, complete with pink ruffles and fairy dust.
Their strategy is working, however – so far, Korean and Japanese manufacturers are hitting the top of the list when it comes to cars preferred by women.
It isn’t only the Eastern markets that are targeting women, however – remember the new Volkswagen Beetle when it was first introduced in 1998? With its bright and cheery color palette, compact size and cute exterior, women were queuing up to buy the car before it was even released. And then came the piece de resistance – a flower vase built into the dashboard, and drawers under the seat to keep those extra heels! By the end of its production run, the drivers of the New Beetle were 79% women.
It may seem risky to target only a specific sub group of the population, but the strategy has its pros and cons. According to Brian Murphy, who is the senior manager of Power Information Network (PIN), a company that analyses data about automobile sales in Canada, targeting a certain gender doesn’t always work. Although many manufacturers are attempting to do this, only 38 of the 211 models of vehicle currently sold in Canada have more sales to females than males. And even the vehicle with the highest gender discrepancy is only skewed 67% towards females. Perhaps men are not as concerned about their macho image as some marketing strategists would like to believe!
If you are wanting to appeal to a female market, however, what features should you incorporate into your car? According to research done by PIN, women want cars that are compact, have clean lines and are practical – if you can throw in great fuel efficiency, even better. They are also more likely to go for a hatchback or compact 2 x 4 or 4 x 4 model.
PIN has come up with a list of the top vehicle models that have sales skewed towards women in Canada – and not surprisingly, Korean and Japanese compact cars dominate the list. Here they are – the top ‘chick cars’ in Canada:
1) Chevy Aveo
60% of Chevy Aveos are sold to females each year, with the hatchback being the more popular choice for women. It is manufactured in Korea, and although not quite labeled as a compact car, it is certainly neat and nippy. The starting price for an Aveo is around $14 000, slotting neatly into the entry level market, and it has a 1.6L engine, meaning that women don’t have to compromise on power.
2) Suzuki SX4
Sales of this Japanese compact hatchback are skewed 60.4 percent towards females – and it comes with the added bonus of four wheel drive. It occupies a market niche of mini SUV crossovers, that are becoming increasingly popular with the female market. Current market starting prices are $17 800, with a 1.6L engine.
3) Kia Soul
The Kia Soul is another mini SUV Crossover, this time from a Korean manufacturer. Sales are skewed 61.3% towards females. The starting price is $16 600 for the standard 1.6L engine. The Soul incorporates Kia’s trademark corporate grille, commonly known as the Tiger Nose, which adds to its visual appeal. The model has a number of design options and is even available in themed editions, which include racing stripes, dragon graphics and a hounds tooth design.
4) Acura CSX
The Acura is the only Canadian built vehicle to be featured on the PIN list. Sales are skewed 61.5 % towards females. With a more upscale starting price of $24 500, the Acura is not appealing to females based on its frugality, but more perhaps due to its styling and practicality. The CSX has now been discontinued, but will be replaced by a similar model known as the ILX in late 2012.
5) Mini Countryman
Surprisingly enough, the Mini Countryman is more skewed towards females in terms of sales at 62.2%, than its smaller counterpart, the standard Mini Cooper. Perhaps this was a case of trying to increase the Mini’s appeal to the male market that backfired. However, the Countryman is both practical and still compact, as well as being good looking, so perhaps this vehicle is for women who like to multitask.
6) Nissan Versa and Nissan Juke
The Japanese produced Nissan Versa and Nissan Juke have both become increasingly popular with the female driver market in Canada, with sales skewed 62.4% and 63.4% female, respectively. The Versa is an all-round more sensible car, as well as being more affordable at a starting price of $14 700. The Nissan Juke, on the other hand, is geared towards women who would like a bit more power, with its 188 horsepower turbocharged engine.
And the car that has sales most skewed towards women readers is…
7) Toyota Yaris
Sales of the Yaris are currently skewed 66.9% towards females. With its $14 000 price tag, compact hatchback design and both three and five door options, the Yaris may just be the perfect chick car. It’s practical, reliable and attractive.
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