Men Are from Mars, Women Drive VW Beetles and Don’t Shop at Best Buy

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Everybody likes getting good value for their money, but how and where you try to get bang for your buck may have a lot to do with which public restroom door you’d enter: Ladies or Gents? If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then apparently, there’s a lot of hardcore negotiating happening on Mars, not so much on Venus. Also, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to open an electronics store or Lamborghini dealership on Venus.

Women, according to a data cited in an LA Times story, account for just 36% of new car registrations. Even so, women buy 50% or more of nine vehicle models, per the study that generated the numbers. From the LA Times:

Volkswagen’s Beetle was the auto most likely to be purchased by a woman. Just over 56% of the buyers registering a new Beetle were women, the study found.

But after that, female buyers tended toward small sport utility vehicles. The Nissan Rogue, Hyundai Tucson, Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage and Toyota RAV4 made up five of the nine vehicles registered by more women than men.

The other cars registered to women at least 50% of the time include VW’s Eos, the Volvo S40 and the Nissan Sentra.

The kinds of cars that women are most likely to buy have a couple things in common: They’re all imports known for reliability, and they’re all relatively inexpensive, most with MSRPs around $20K to $25K, and none over $35K. So, generally speaking, it’s safe to say that female buyers look for value and practicality.

But the female quest for value only goes so far. One of the reasons given for the low percentage of overall new car registrations is that women prefer men—their husbands, most likely—to negotiate and oversee the actual buying of the car she’ll be driving. Men are supposedly better, or at least more comfortable, negotiating and closing the deal. Hence, a recent WalletPop post advising readers to negotiate “like a man,” with tips like:

Never discuss terms until the end, when both parties want to close the deal. This also works on a date when you’re both drunk.

The post cites stats gathered at Dr. Phil’s website that all point to the idea that women don’t like negotiating, and that they suffer because of it. Examples:

Men initiate negotiations about four times more often than women.

When asked to pick metaphors for negotiations, men picked “winning a ballgame” and a “wrestling match,” while women picked “going to the dentist.”

Women will pay as much as $1,353 to avoid negotiating the price of a car.

20 percent of women (22 million people) say they never negotiate at all, even though they recognize negotiation as appropriate and even necessary.

Men, then, are more likely to drive a hard bargain, so to speak. So men must really be the ones who look for value and practicality, right? Not really. Men are pretty much the only consumers buying pricey, totally impractical sports cars, per the LA Times:

The highest percentage of male registrations leaned toward expensive, exotic brands such as Bugatti, 100%, Ferrari, 94.4%, and Lamborghini, 93.5%.

Both genders like to get good value for their money, but they have traditionally pursued that goal in different ways. Perhaps, however, the gap between male and female consumers is shrinking. Using coupons has been thought of as a more typically female activity, for example. Yet, a recent survey says coupon usage among men is up. Just over half of American men (51%) used a coupon in the last six months, which may or may not sound surprising depending upon your household.

Retailers would obviously prefer to make sales on an equal opportunity basis and attract consumers of all genders, races, religions, and so on. Pretty much anybody with money is welcomed to shop. Yet one group or another tends to dominate certain types of purchases, whether we’re talking about trips to the car dealership, the grocery store (where coupons are most likely to be used), or the electronics shop. The WSJ reported:

Best Buy’s customers and worker are overwhelmingly male, a vestige from its days as a seller of speakers and stereo equipment. While Best Buy estimated earlier this year that it commanded roughly 22% of U.S. consumer electronics sales, its share of sales to women was just 16%, and only 31% of store workers are women.

Now, the Richfield, Minn.-based retailer is trying to bridge its gender gap. It is empowering female workers and tapping teenage girls to suggest new ways to sell to women. The push reflects a realization that in some of the hottest areas of electronics retailing—smart-phones and other mobile devices—women are becoming the most coveted customers.

The idea of gender playing a big role in consumer behavior got me thinking: Just how stereotypically conventional is my family?

Pretty darn conventional, with some exceptions. My wife most definitely is not a Best Buy shopper. On the other hand, I drive a Volkswagen—a Passat, which hopefully is less girly than a Beetle. Then again, my wife basically picked it out back when our family was smaller and it was our only car. I negotiated the price and closed the deal. As for coupons, come on, you know the answer: When it’s for a product I need anyway, I’ll use a coupon proudly. If you’re too “manly” to do that, you’re probably dumb enough to buy a Ferrari.

I’m sure you’d get a great deal on it, though.

Do You Invest Like a Man or a Woman?