Published in Automotive

Marketing Research and Single Women Buying SUVs

Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported on insights that a MaritzCX program provided to the auto industry – that single women were responsible for an increasing percentage of small SUV sales.

I’m a college student, interning at MaritzCX and part of the CX Café team. Last semester I took my first marketing research class (for the purpose of this article, I’m going to use the term marketing research to refer to data from a specific company, as contrasted with market research, which pertains to data from an entire industry). It was great – I learned about clustering, conjoint analysis, questionnaire design, forecasting with regression analysis, ZMET testing, crosstabs, and factor analysis, just to name a few topics.

The class taught us to turn company data into valuable insights about potential customers. We learned to interpret survey responses to understand why business outcomes had changed. We used regression analysis to predict which would be the most profitable products, quantity, and selling prices for imaginary companies.

I told the professor at the end of the semester that I thought every business student, not just the marketing students, should be required to take marketing research. An understanding of marketing research can give businesspeople important insights about their company’s customers, processes, products, etc.

In fact, marketing research insights are some of the most important outcomes of a good customer experience (CX) program.

As mentioned, Bloomberg reported on insights that a MaritzCX program provided to the auto industry – that single women were responsible for an increasing percentage of small SUV sales.

This market research, with data from across the auto industry, can be used by individual auto dealers to increase their revenues.

The Bloomberg article described the struggle of car-shopping 24-year-old Nora Patey to be taken seriously by salespeople, who continually made their pitches to her boyfriend. Women who face this kind of gender bias in a car dealership may decide to shop elsewhere. This could become a serious problem for dealers, as you can see from the increasing market share of women in the graphic below.

fueling upBecause of the increasing prevalence of female buyers in the small SUV market, dealers would be wise to address the issue of gender bias in car sales, maybe by providing more training to salespeople, or by hiring more female salespeople.

The thing is, without market research dealers wouldn’t necessarily know that the landscape of car buyers is changing.  They would continue to target their faithful male car buyers without much thought towards the changing buyer landscape.

Without marketing research, they wouldn’t understand how to apply what they learn from market research to their own business practices. As dealers survey their customers, and test initiatives, they can determine the potential effectiveness of their current actions and future plans.

The whole process – from market research, to data mining, to marketing research, to understanding customer insights, to applying them, to gathering feedback and other data (aka market and marketing research) – is key to satisfying customers and managing their changing wants and needs.

That’s what customer experience is: the whole shebang. CX can’t exist without market and marketing research. And it’s pointless without gathering and applying insights. So maybe I’m biased, but I think all of those steps are necessary to providing a truly great customer experience.

And I’m really hoping that auto dealerships have taken the message to heart when I go to buy my own small SUV a few years down the road.