In BMW’s ad campaign for the all-new, $63,900 5-Series Gran Turismo sedan, there’s no question as to the target audience. A series of vignettes show French designer Catherine Malandrino with the car near her Meatpacking District boutique and at her country house in upstate New York. The campaign was shot by fashion photographer Norman Jean Roy and designed by Natasha Royt, a well-known stylist.
“She talks about this nomadic lifestyle–living in Paris, living in New York–and we thought it was a great way to capture the spirit of the Gran Turismo,” says Patrick McKenna, BMW’s director of marketing. But really it’s all about capturing the attention of affluent women.
That kind of gender-targeted marketing is nothing new, but automakers say they well know what appeals most to women–or to men for that matter–when they commit to building and marketing a car. And like it or not, they say there are some generalizations that hold true now and forever: Women opt for practicality, men for power.
Behind the Numbers
For our list of the vehicles most popular with men and women, we used analyses from J.D. Power & Associates and customized data Experian Automotive, a Schaumburg, Ill.-based analysis and consulting firm. Data were taken from all new-car registrations in the United States for September 2009 to Jan. 24, 2010; they measured which vehicles have the highest percentage of male vs. female registrants and vice-versa. Registration data does not conclusively determine who is driving these vehicles, but it is industry standard in determining gender demographics in new-car purchasing.
More women than men choose practical crossovers like the Kia Sportage and the Honda CR-V, while the majority of buyers of high-power, high-torque autos (the Chevrolet Camaro and GMC Sierra pickup truck, for example) are men. Automakers, however, are well aware that it’s a mistake for them to think in such generalizations when creating a new model–and when they do, it’s more for show.
Men: Ford F-Series
Segment: Pickup truck
Percentage of registrants who are male: F-150: 85%; F-250: 88%; F-350: 86.4%
Women: Kia Sportage
Percentage of registrants who are female: 57.7%
Men: Chevrolet Silverado 1500
Segment: Pickup truck
Percentage of registrants who are male: 84.8%
Women: Nissan Rogue
Percentage of registrants who are female: 54.6%
Men: Chevrolet Camaro
(Most popular non-pickup truck vehicle)\
Segment: Muscle Car
Percentage of registrants who are male: 75.1%
Women: Toyota RAV4