By on May 8, 2010

Is good old machismo dying in Brazil? On the eve of Women’s International Day (May 8), women are now held responsible for buying up to 40 percent of brand new cars in Brazil, and are said to influence over 80 percent of purchases. According to well-known Brazilian news site Globo, those are the numbers. But what motivates a woman to buy a car in Brazil?

Fiat’s marketing director, João Batista Claco, said to Globo that women value ergonomics, lots of little niches and space to put away and organize their various knick-knacks. And they definitely don’t want a girly car. So, no pink cars. Eeek, eek, that would be the ultimate turn-off.

At Brazilian car news site Rodao, Volkswagen states that men are more emotional when buying a car. They seek out great design and high performance (good luck finding that in Brazil, the land of quart-sized engines). Also, they don’t mind paying the price. Hopes VW. According to the guys at VW, Women are more rational when choosing and look for things like internal space, practicality (big inside, compact outside, no comments, please) and safety. They also place a lot more emphasis on having creature comforts like air-conditioning and power steering.

Sounds about right, doesn’t it? Most women don’t suffer from penis envy and want a comfortable, even if slow vehicle. They could care less for horsepower. Men want a big engine to impress their pals and a flashy design to get (as they mistakenly believe) the girl. Women want a modicum of comfort and practicality. Getting the guy with a car doesn’t even register on their RADAR. As you probably heard by now, Brazilian women use other techniques to attract the elusive male.

All of this according to allegedly representative studies. In Brazil. But in the real world, does this hold true? And how about other countries? What’s your take, B and B?

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21 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: Are Brazilian Women Wearing The Pants?...”


  • avatar
    Autobraz

    I will buy whatever Ana Hickman tells me to.

    NSFW link:
    http://www.google.com/images?q=Ana%20Hickman

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    A long time ago when I was gainfully employed in the Auto Industry, I had to go to Curitiba…I took a few extra days off, and did some sightseeing in Sao Paulo and Iguazu…WOW!!! HOLY [email protected]!!!!!!! I have never seen a country where such a large chunk of the female population was that attractive.

    • 0 avatar
      johnthacker

      Brazil is also I think the only country with government paid for cosmetic surgery for the poor as well as tax deductions for purely cosmetic surgery.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve read somewhere (but can’t provide links), propotionally, Venezuela is the country that most spends on cosmetics. And, again, proportionally (to wealth and size of population) Brazil came in second with the US and France battling it out for a distant 3rd.

      Call us futile, call us juvenile, youth-obssessed, but it does result in some breathtakingly beautiful women.

      As to plastic/cosmetic surgery Brazil is again the second country in which the most surgery are performed. 1st place? The good old USA.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Depends on how you like hot women in low slung, tight pants.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    A couple of Brazilian commenters have pointed out that car prices are substantial, even for small cars that would be sold in the US primarily on price, so that’s a consideration. What part of the market is sold to single women is another. For married couples, I’d expect the same thing that happens here: the female half plays a major part in the decision. The macho men who make the decision alone are either single or have ex-wives, either before or after the decision.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s exactly my question, Lorenzo. Is machismo dead and buried? Even in a backwater like Brazil?

      In my case I don’t order. I would say I guide. I tell her all about the cars I think would be good for her needs (and of course put my favorites in a much better light). In the end, she just generally goes along w/ me. I don’t see anything wrong w/ that either, as I’m the one who’ll wash, maintain, take care of it if something goes wrong. So I better like the car.

      Seriuosly, though, from what I notice, women in this regard mostly follow on what their family’s preference was. If its a VW family, she won’t do much research and just go along. Now, if the family is not a car family, she’ll generally explore more and might be the first in the family to try that new French car. Or Korean car that most people haven’t heard about. Men, I think, are more traditional and stay within their comfort zone. That a perception I get at least.

  • avatar

    It’s not only in Brazil but all of the world…

  • avatar
    ajla

    I can’t speak for Brazilians, but I’ve never really accepted the idea that women are just looking for space, safety, and ergonomics.

    Most of the single or childless women I know all want style, performance, and/or status out of their vehicles. They all have things like a RSX, Audi TT, Mini Cooper S, M45, GTI, Saab 9-3, etc.

    If they have children, practicality does go up in importance, but they would still rather drive a MDX over an Odyssey.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, you do have a point. Maybe they just talk about it at car clinics, but then go and buy the most stylish thing they can afford.

      Case in point. Dont really know about the rest of Brazil, but it seems that if you’re a young girl (say 18-25) and your family has money, the car of choice is the Mitsubishi TR4. ( 9 out of 10 of them seem to own them. And so do their mammas. But in this case they all have bigger SUVs. Hyundai’s Vera Cruz and Santa Fe seem to be in strong demand amd the Honda CRV is becoming a common sight. BMW and M-B SUV do roll around here, but there seem to be a lot less of them than should be the case. Well, place that on security issues. A Hyundai Santa Fe still tells the world you made it, but doesn’t flaunt it like a BMW would.

      For a while back in the nineties Euro minivans were all the rage w/ this public. They’ve moved on. Their collective dream seems to be CUVs and SUVs of various Asian origin. THey’ll forgo the Germans in the name of security.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      A Hyundai Santa Fe still tells the world you made it

      I think that comment is very telling about the Brazilian market. If a Hyundai is a status symbol, no wonder why Ford, VW, GM, and every other mainstream automaker can get away with selling previous-gen products.

      Hyundai’s aren’t necessarily bad cars, and some are actually very good cars, but in the US at least, they are hardly status symbols. In fact, up until very recently if you pulled up in a Hyundai, Kia, or (a bit more recently) any Mitsubishi other than a Montero or Evo, the salesmen would jump out of the way, the car just screamed ‘Hey, I’m way upside down in my loan, have crap credit, and am really cheap!’.

      I will say that most women seem to be more brand conscious than men. Perhaps it is ingrained from the societal importance of designer brands in clothes, but women seem to care more about the badge on the car than what lies under the sheetmetal.

    • 0 avatar

      Nullo Mundo: yes a Hyundai can be a sign of status. Crazy isn’t it? That’s why I think it’ll be interesting for you all to read my posts. You’ll get insights into how the other half of the world live.

      FWIW a Ford Fusion is also a huge big status symbol. And funnily enough, Civics and Corollas are but a step behind Fusions. Civic and Corollas are for successful middle to top brass. A Fusion, is solidly top brass and Santa Fe serves as the top brass’s wife vehicle.

      As to brand consciousness…I’m sure a huge percentage of women could care less, but those who care, care a lot!

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    It’s an interesting question, and one I have pondered myself. On one hand, there are plenty of benefits to having a woman in your life, on the other, there is the significant drawback of having to consult her opinion on major purchases and decisions.

    At my dealership we have an interesting mix, being South Florida, there are plenty of old couples, but also being an area with low home prices, a medium sized university, and some growth in entry level career positions, we have plenty of young couples too.

    As far as the old couples go, they seem to fall into two categories, some are very traditional, where the man makes the choice of the car (or at least seems to from my vantage) and as long as the wife agrees, all is good. The other set seem to share a bit more, the husband will decide on the model or type of vehicle they need, and the wife takes over as far as color and options go.

    In many of the younger couples I see, the woman plays a much more active role, and seems to even lead the search process. I can go on about the benefits of a vehicle where it comes to space, safety, power, comfort, etc, but if the wife doesn’t like the way it looks, it’s a no go (this is the biggest reason why Flex sales still haven’t skyrocketed, women have an issue with things that look like station wagons).

    I will say the happiest couples I run into, regardless of age, are the ones who leave the decision making for the vehicle be led by whoever is going to be the primary driver. If it’s the husbands car, he makes the choice and the wife has minimal input, if it’s the wife’s car, she makes the choice and the husband goes along with it.

  • avatar

    I was under the impression that Brazilian women don’t actually wear pants; one of the many reasons men go gaga over them. ; )

    Here in the US, statistics I’ve seen state that 60% of car purchases are made buy women, and a full 80% of car purchases have had a woman’s input in the decision even if it isn’t her car or a car for the family.

    Regardless of cultural differences like machismo, many Brazilian women have lots of their own money to spend on whatever they want, so it would be stupid NOT to market directly to them.

  • avatar
    jems86

    Mr. de Vasconcellos: I really don’t want to be a party pooper (sorry) but the international women’s day is the 8th of March every year NOT the 8th of may.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Women%27s_Day

    Maybe you are talking about mother’s day which, in many countries (like brazil), occurs the second sunday of May (May 9, 2010).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother%27s_Day

  • avatar
    newcarscostalot

    First I learn the my tax dollars are going to Maximum Bob’s wallet. Now I learn the women have their own day. I don’t think I can take any more shocks…

  • avatar

    I’m sure that supercar makers thank their lucky stars that women have absolutely no input on buying decisions in the UAE.

    @lilpoindexter: Even though looks are just a small part of the picture, supposedly the most beautiful women in the world are from either Argentina or Iceland.

  • avatar
    vvk

    International Women’s Day is March 8, not May 8.

    http://www.internationalwomensday.com/

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    In January I was in Brazil: a neighbor had a chauffeur-driven Corolla sitting all day long in front of their house with the chauffeur on stand-by to take the kids to school and the madame to the nearby shopping mall and who knows what else. In a silver Corolla (but hey, it had disc brakes on all fours!).

    Husband/boyfriend (dude was SIGNIFICANTLY older then Mrs) was indeed driving a Black Santa Fe with black tinted windows. Multiple cell phones at hands all time. It was so stereotypical it was not even funny.

    Bizarre thing having a Corolla as a status symbol, yes, but you have to remember 20 years ago these same people would have a chauffeur-driven 1.6L Ascona and 30 years ago the chauffeur would be driving an iron-Duke Opel Rekord properly named “Diplomat”.

    It’s all about intrinsic, perceived value and image projection. Build it, market the hell out of it and raise it to the highest possible level and they WILL buy into it. Cause they have nothing to compare to until they fly to Disney and have THE reality check moment many Brazilians have the first time they set their foot at Avis/Hertz/Alamo parking lot in MIA.

    Cars in Brazil are the second best way to impress people and project an image (physical appearance is 1st): down there it works much better than home size, boats, clothes and club memberships. It works especially well if your belt line is not what it used to be or your bikini does not stay put as it once did.

    Usage of automobiles as a status tool is as true in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo as it is in Los Angeles and New York. Only the tools available are different: with 40K in the US you can a new 328 or a nice used 7 series but with 40K in Brazil you get a stripped Corolla or a 7 year old Camry – and you still have to invest an addition 15K in armor.

    On a higher level one can get a nice entry-level Ferrari in the US for, I don’t know, 120-150K? In São Paulo the same car will be 2.5X to 5X that price… and will be worth 5X to 10X the level of “woooos” and ‘ahhhs” in front of the nightclubs and restaurants and plastic surgery clinics.

    It’s all relative.

  • avatar
    Ronman

    well if i were purchasing a car in brazil, i wouldn’t be looking for horsepower to wow a girl that doesn’t care, I’d want it for the sheer capability of overtaking a long semi with enough time to make it back onto the lane before i get compressed by another vehicle on the opposite lane…

    my biggest complaint while driving around Brazil was this… the Sandero with it’s 16v 1.6L 90hp engine didn’t cut the muster… a 2.0 16v with some 140 150 hp would be a minimum requirement

  • avatar
    Robstar

    Gosh I can’t believe I missed this story…..Of all my brazillian in-laws (I’ve met about 200 of them) the men still primarily make the car purchase and the women (in general) just don’t seem to care too much.

    Me, married to a Brazillian…well she is getting the next new car & I show her models & she is going to be the decision maker. She does indeed wear the pants. I don’t expect a new car to be neededed for another 10+ years, but I expect I’ll get to choose mine with her approval.

    Motorcycles on the other hand…that’s all me :-)

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