The fast and furious luxury car market in China is far from being the sole playground of men: as women in China are becoming more affluent, car dealers and makers alike are churning out marketing campaigns targeted at their big-ticket spending.
According to a recent survey by GroupM, female car ownership climbed from 21 percent to 23 percent in Tier 1 cities such as Beijing and Shanghai from 2011 to 2013. Interestingly, the survey also claims that women are more “emotional” in their purchase decisions, where top purchasing reasons for women include good sales service and attractive advertising. This is opposed to that of men, whom the survey says would purchase cars based on whether they had a good test-drive experience.
Dealerships and carmakers appear to be playing to these demands, and are bending over backward to ride the rising wave of female car ownership in China. Many dealers are doling out free gifts to female customers this coming International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8—a Volkswagen dealership in Shanghai is offering free cosmetics, manicures, luxury items, and more. Last year, another Volkswagen dealership in Hui’an, Quanzhou, gave a free iPhone 5 to any woman placing an order for a Volkswagen Golf on that day.
Automakers have also taken to enticing the female spending dollar. According to The Wall Street Journal, Italian carmaker Maserati has been hosting private cocktail parties with Giorgio Armani’s cosmetics line and Italian lingerie company La Perla for newly rich female drivers in China. To target the discerning woman’s eye, they introduced colors such as Bordeaux to their line. Mainland sales for Maserati jumped 50 percent in 2011, where 30 percent of the sales went to women buyers, compared to less than 10 percent for Europe. Maserati’s Quattroporte is especially popular with Chinese businesswomen, who make up 40 percent of the luxury automaker’s sales of the model. Female buyers also accounted for 30 percent of Ferrari sales in mainland China in 2012, more than twice the global average.
According to this year’s Hurun Report, over half of the world’s self-made female billionaires are Chinese. These wealthy ladies are turning their eyes onto not only cars, but other luxury products traditionally associated with males, such as whisky. The Financial Times reported in 2011 that Chinese women drink more Johnnie Walker than their Western female counterparts, which one expert claimed can be explained by their ambition. “In China, women are ambitious… so they will buy more ‘high powered’ products than women in the U.S. or Europe,” said Tom Doctoroff, Greater China head of advertising agency JWT. “A woman here needs to project her power in ways that a Western woman simply does not need to.”
With more women getting behind the wheel and driving up luxury product sales, it is little wonder why companies are getting down on their knees with free flowers and manicures in hopes of wooing China’s rising female dollar. If Volkswagen is anything to go by, its record 16 percent growth in 2013 shows that its efforts haven’t hurt.