Regular readers will know my “fondness” for press releases from the “female-friendly insurer” Sheilas’ Wheels.
Today’s amazing insight is that car dealerships are not very women friendly: Showroom walk-outs account for potential losses in new car sales of over £17 million per week.
“Shocking” new research in the Car Showroom Shake-up report, is, as usual, based on extrapolation.
Although “one in five (20%) women questioned confessed to pulling out of buying a new car because of offensive comments made by a salesperson or the off-putting showroom environment”, the conclusion: “resulting in a loss of sales totalling a massive £907 million this year” is based on the assumption that “20% of women drivers who pulled out of a car sale purchase did not buy a new car in another car showroom for at least 12 months.” What is the logic for this? PR finger in the air?
I’m reminded of the fallacy used by health campaigners and politicians who claim their campaigns save lives – the fact is we will all die of something, sometime. We might just live a longer, healthier life if we give up smoking, cut out fatty foods, reduce salt intake, drive better, etc etc – but it won’t save our lives.
If you need, or want, a new car, you will buy one – somewhere else. So the industry as a whole doesn’t lose out. Just those dealers and manufacturers who didn’t impress these particularly women.
It is dumb to annoy customers – but how many women walk out of clothes shops and other retailers because of poor service. I know I have.
Anyway, what most annoys me is that Teamspirit PR – the agency behind the story reveals a torturous approach to statistics in the notes to editors, with the mathematical workings:
*Calculation: Number of female drivers on the road (14.4 million – National Travel Survey) x Number of female drivers who always buy new cars (9% – Sheilas’ Wheels ‘Car Showroom Shake-up’) / Average number of years that women change their car (4 – Sheilas’ Wheels ‘Car Showroom Shake-up’) x Number of females who have pulled out of car purchase due to the showroom atmosphere or sales experience (20% – Sheilas’ Wheels ‘Car Showroom Shake-up’) / Number of weeks in the year (52) x Average price of new car (£14,000 – Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) = £17,446,153
Quick calculation: 14,400,000 x 0.09 (= 1,296,000) / 4 (324,000) x 0.2 (64,800) / 52 (1,246) x 14,000 = £17,446,153.
Apparently Sheilas’ Wheels audited 220 car dealerships (hardly a representative sample), and found only 14% of salespeople are women. In this respect, the survey’s observation that 58% of female driver find showrooms “a ‘very male dominated’ environment”, could seem low. And the “fact” that 31% of women would prefer to negotiate with a female salesperson perhaps indicates over two-thirds aren’t bothered.
But then we get back to a pretty standard Sheilas’ Wheels theme – poor frightened women.
Almost three quarters (72%) of the women drivers questioned said they now take a male partner, friend or family member with them for support and to help them get the best deal – being afraid to ‘go it alone’.
The spokeperson for Sheilas’ Wheels goes onto slate the car industry – rather than individual dealers – as
not meeting the needs of the modern-day female driver. It’s stuck in the dark ages and is missing out by not grasping the female market with both hands. The fact that so many women have pulled out of a new car purchase because of the atmosphere in the showroom and sales experience shows that a lot of changes are needed.
Add in our ubiquitous “independent psychologist”, Dr Sandra Wheatley (an expert on postnatal depression as well as being for hire for PRs), who makes unsubstantiated claims that sales people who “appear most honest and trustworthy will be the most successful.”
In my extensive personal and professional experience with car dealerships, the issue isn’t as simple as male versus female. There are dealers who understand how to interact with customers and those who do not. In fact, huge amounts of money has been invested by the industry in creating pleasant showrooms and training staff. Customer satisfaction is not only monitored, but a key reward mechanism.
Yes, I know it is just a harmless story aiming to generate coverage – as the TeamSpirit PR team:
created through client demand, translates complex financial messages into their simplest forms — and takes financial brands beyond the money pages, and into living, headline-grabbing stories.
Its goal is to “make your brand come alive” through “attention-grabbing work that gets talked about”.
TeamSpirit even has a blog – with sporadic, and increasingly short posts. Maybe that’s not surprising as since it was launched in June this year, there have been just 2 comments left by readers (both anonymous and critical of typos and the arguments made). Indeed, one of the 28 posts to date generated criticism by Shel Holtz for faulty logic.
I have nothing against media relations campaigns – but I’m pretty fed up with silly surveys and misuse of statistics. Until the media likewise becomes more critical and ceases to provide the column inches, then I suppose Sheilas’ Wheels and TeamSpirit will keep them coming.