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A car for women ignites widespread criticism

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【Summary】Designing and engineering a car especially for women sounds like it wouldn’t be such a terrible thing, nor that it would prompt some type of horrible backlash. That said, it might be tricky when designing the features and do-ing the marketing and advertising.

Original Vineet    Oct 02, 2016 10:30 PM PT
A car for women ignites widespread criticism
Claire Pu

By Claire Pu

Designing and engineering a car especially for women sounds like it wouldn't be such a terrible thing, nor that it would prompt some type of horrible backlash. That said, it might be tricky when designing the features and do-ing the marketing and advertising. Spanish car manufacturer SEAT and fashion magazine Cosmopolitan recently cooperated a purple vehicle for ladies, and sparkled a widespread backlash on social media platforms.

At Cosmopolitan's FashFest event in London on September 23rd, the SEAT Mii was revealed to the public, with chic female models circling it on the stage. "It's small, it's purple". The collaboration car features jewel-effect rims, a hook for hanging handbags, the "eyeliner headlights" that are "emphasized in the same way as make-up emphasizes the eye," and other "thoughtful feminine touches" that make it perfect for "impromptu karaoke per-formances, last-minute wardrobe changes, dramatic gossip sessions and emergency lunch-hour kips", accord-ing to the manufacturer.

The widespread criticism revolves around the stereotypes toward women and the impractical functions that were meant to be considerate yet turned out to be offensive. The responses were overwhelmingly negative, pointing out the car itself alienated buyers of other gender who might like it to purchase the "female car," meanwhile irritated many women who hold a different perspective on the ideal design for women.

Manufacturer SEAT has responded to the backlash by clarifying the car is intended for the Cosmopolitan read-er specifically, rather than the female gender as a whole.

"Mii by Cosmopolitan is not a car intended entirely for a female audience. It is the result of a two-year-long pro-cess of co-creation involving Cosmopolitan readers, editors and the magazine's creative team, aimed at devel-oping a model that responds to a very specific target -- the Cosmo reader -- and in no way to women as a whole. We regret any misunderstandings that may have emerged."

According to a study conducted recently by Jumpstart Automotive Media, women are now buying more than 50 percent of new cars and "influencing" 80 percent of vehicle purchase decisions. The study was conducted from December 2015 to March 2016. By studying online diaries, focus groups and one-on-one interviews in Houston, Texas and Sacramento, California, qualitative research was conducted. Meanwhile, quantifying data was gathered through national online surveys from 1,014 U.S. respondents. The study draws out some interesting conclusions:

• Women, especially millennial women, are most willing to switch from a new car to a used car for practical needs.
• Women place greater emphasis on purchase price and monthly payments.
• Women place a greater value on comfort, seating and safety.
• Women are high-info shoppers who are more likely to consult Consumer Reports.
• Women tend to be more focused on gas mileage, warranty, rebates and discounts.
• Women are primarily new-car purchasers.

According to a previous CNN report, the majority of vehicles in the autos industry are still designed by men, but that gender disparity is slowly fading. Therefore, catering to the general public might be the safest way in marketing and advertising.

Sources from: CNN, Jalopnik Reviews


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