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Future Feature Demand – Men and Women Are Different

Women demand safety features.  Men want technology features.

In AutoPacific’s 2011 Future Attribute Demand Study, 73,000 respondents selected those features they want on their next car or light truck.  About 40% of these new vehicle owners were women, but we know from experience that females influence 80% of new car and light truck sales.  In analyzing AutoPacific’s data, we find that demand for many features is about equal between men and women.  For instance, nearly equal percentages want Bluetooth (75%), a rear backup camera (52%), a navigation system (46%), a heated windshield (44%), voice activated controls (36%), keypad entry system (33%).  So, what are the features that each gender demand that differentiate them?

Women Want Features That Make Their Vehicle Easy and Safe The features women want more than men in their next vehicle include hidden storage for their purse, an automatic parallel parking system, an expensive safety package, a night vision system and a power trunk/liftgate.  The other demands from the female new vehicle owners make their easier to live with and safer.  Very understandable and reasonable.

In AutoPacific’s 25 years of research, we have heard time and again that women want a place to store their purse in the vehicle, but no one as yet has achieved a satisfactory solution.  Automakers work on solutions, but have never yet come up with the perfect answer.  Maybe if women carried purses that were a consistent size and shape, that would solve the problem?  But that is not going to happen.  Given the diversity of purse and satchel sizes carried by women (and, recently, men) this may be an insurmountable problem for time immemorial.

Men Want Features That Helps Them Interact with the Vehicle Men are much more likely to want high intensity discharge headlamps, premium wheels, head-up display, added insulation to reduce engine and road noise, a reconfigurable instrument cluster, LED headlights and a high performance engine option.  With the exception of the one bling item, premium wheels, the demands from the men relate to the way they interact with the car or the way the car performs.

Candidates for Standard Equipment A generation ago, luxury items included air conditioning, power door locks, power windows, power mirrors and a rear window defroster.  Today, it’s tough to find a car or truck where those former luxury features are not standard.  So, what features do our respondents agree should be standard on their next vehicle?  Both genders demand a Bluetooth handsfree phone system.  They would like a driver’s seat that has power adjustments, adjustable lumbar support and heating.  They want turn signals integral with their outside rearview mirrors.  Over 50% want leather seats, a rearview backup camera, a remote garage door opener plus an expensive high fuel economy option.

About that high fuel economy engine option… about 50% of the respondents would select a high fuel economy powertrain.  About 25% would select high performance for the same $2,500 price.  Think about it, the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Elantra, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio are  fuel sippers at around 40mpg and don’t charge a huge premium to get that mileage.  At the other extreme is Ford’s EcoBoost engine strategy that so far provides much more power and torque at no fuel economy penalty over a standard engine.  Based on AutoPacific’s research, both men and women equally want a higher fuel economy engine while it is the men who would be the EcoBoost target.

Hand-Held GPS Systems Have Not Killed In-Vehicle Navigation Many people were anticipating the death of in-vehicle navigation systems because they are so much more expensive than portable GPS systems.  Prices for those keep dropping and their features keep expanding.  But over 45% of the respondents said they want a navigation system integral with their car.  Men and women were about equal on their preference for a NAV system.  Some don’t feel a vehicle is complete unless it has NAV.

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