Northwood University is offering a new course to boost consumer confidence and satisfaction among women car buyers.
The school's automotive marketing department is offering a “WomenCertified” training and certification program to students at its Florida, Michigan and Texas campuses.
Northwood is the first higher education institution in the U.S. to offer the course as part of its curriculum. It is also available to dealership sales professionals.
The WomenCertified course — typically offered to companies and sales professionals looking to strengthen their marketing and customer service programs — is based on women's standards of expectation in the buying process.
The program focuses on delivering improved customer service, communicating more effectively and creating trusting relationships with customers and prospects.
Statistics indicate women influence the purchase of 83% of all consumer products, including 95% of all vehicles sold in the U.S. So, it makes sense to the focus on making the car buying experience more appealing to women, says Joseph Lescota, the chairman of Northwood's Automotive Marketing Department.
Attempts to make the automotive market more consumer friendly to the Hispanic market have been successful and well-documented, but similar efforts to appeal to women have not mirrored this success because the focus was misplaced, he says.
“When it comes to educating the retail auto industry on the female buyer side, the attempts have been feeble, weak, ineffective and most certainly inconsistent,” Lescota says. “The industry attempted pink cars, umbrella and purse holders, special color options, makeup mirrors and ‘powder puff clinics,’ to name a few.
“These programs and marketing efforts were geared toward the consumer and were expected to carry themselves. Little or no aggressive effort has been made to educate those who are ultimately responsible for dealing directly with the female buyer.”
Placing emphasis on face-to-face customer relationships and effective gender communications, WomenCertified is “creating a customer service revolution for women by setting a higher standard of excellence in service,” says its founder, Delia Passi, CEO of Medelia Inc., a firm specializing in marketing and selling to women.
Northwood student Kendrick Davis, a junior from Detroit, majoring in automotive marketing says, “Advertising geared towards women can be offensive. Assuming a woman is a soccer-mom or a housewife, or thinking that a woman is naïve, are some of the common generalities the market makes.”
Passi's book, “Winning the Toughest Customer: The Essential Guide to Selling to Women,” will be used as a classroom text at Northwood to accompany the WomenCertified training.
“Eight in 10 women feel undue pressure when browsing a dealership showroom, and the same number won't visit a dealership without a male accompanying them,” Passi says. “These are bad numbers for dealerships. WomenCertified is designed to teach companies how to make the buying process more comfortable and even appealing to women.
“All of the product development and targeted marketing in the world won't matter to her unless she walks into a dealership culture that takes her needs seriously, understands how she buys and meets her expectations as a decision maker.”
All who complete the program will be awarded the WomenCertified Seal to signify that they have completed the program and made a commitment to delivering customer experiences tailored to women.