By on June 6, 2016

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe (Image: Mercedes-Benz USA)

Women play a very large role in the purchase of new vehicles, and automakers are scrambling to tap into the demographic — among them, the staid, dignified and traditionally male-centric Mercedes-Benz.

The German automaker wants to throw off that old image and make itself the top premium car brand for women by 2020, according to Automotive News.

It’s a tall order for Mercedes-Benz, given that its biggest markets see far more men purchasing its vehicles than women. Only 40 percent of its U.S. customers are women, a slice that falls to 25 percent in China. In its home country, only one in five buyers are female.

If it can appeal to the demographic, the rewards could be huge. Consulting firm Frost & Sullivan found that 80 percent of new vehicle purchases are affected by women, either through direct sales or by putting the kibosh on their partner’s choice.

Automotive News quotes CEO Dieter Zetsche, who recently said, “We first needed to create the awareness that we have great potential here and that’s where this somewhat cheeky saying came from that ‘Women are the new China.’ If we have potential in China, then we have even more potential when we increase the share of our women customers.”

Holding its own against strong-selling BMW and Audi means doing better on that front, but past attempts to woo the fairer sex — including sponsoring the international Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week — didn’t help sales.

Last year, the automaker launched the Internet-based “She’s Mercedes” marketing campaign to familiarize women with the brand, and an online “lifestyle configurator” was crafted to offer vehicle suggestions based on what music, food, and architecture users liked.

If this sounds potentially insulting, you’re not the only one to notice. Mercedes-Benz risks alienating women if it treats them as a precious commodity that doesn’t know the first thing about vehicles.

Take your pick from past marketing lessons, but the 1955–1956 Dodge La Femme stands out as one of the worst.

Chrysler Corporation tried to tap into the growing female car-buyer demographic by offering a dolled-up Custom Royal Lancer, complete with special “feminine” paint colors and accessories ranging from lipstick cases to face-powder compacts. Fewer than 2,500 were sold.

[Image: Mercedes-Benz USA]

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43 Comments on “Mercedes-Benz Isn’t Popular with Women, but Wooing Them Could be Dangerous...”

  • avatar

    Women in the workplace.
    Driving about.
    Becoming educated.

    NOW, they’re going to ruin Mercedes vehicles, as Mercedes Dares Greatly and runs away to the opposite of whatever staid and dignified is. Informal and unrefined, apparently. That’s what women like.


  • avatar

    “Take your pick from past marketing lessons, but the 1955–1956 Dodge La Femme stands out as one of the worst.

    Chrysler Corporation tried to tap into the growing female car-buyer demographic by offering a dolled-up Custom Royal Lancer, complete with special “feminine” paint colors and accessories ranging from lipstick cases to face-powder compacts. Fewer than 2,500 were sold.”

    I was pensivly holding my breath, hoping that a TTAC editor would be smart enough to avoid falling down this rabbit hole, but lo and behold…


    Anyway, does this take into account that many Mercedes ‘toys’ are bought BY men FOR their wives and girlfriends, often both?

  • avatar

    This is news to me. From what I see, the Mercedes ML, CLA and E-class are huge with women.

    • 0 avatar

      Me as well. Where I’m at, it’s mostly women driving any non-S-Class Mercedes.

      All the Asian girls I’ve dated aspire to eventual Mercedes ownership. Not BMW. Not Audi. Mercedes!

      Mercedes = feminine
      BMW = masculine
      Audi = unisex (?)

      • 0 avatar

        I see lots of women driving BMWs. Particularly, the 128/135, 328/335, 528, and the X1/3/5.

        Also see many women driving MB. Usually the CLA/GLA, GLK, C and E classes.

        I think I see the least number of women in Audi. When I do it’s usually a Q3/5/7 and sometimes a TT.

      • 0 avatar

        Audi = men (and specifically adulterers, per gray lady article ;)

        Also Audi women drive mostly A3s and to a lesser extent the Q’s.

        • 0 avatar

          Had a girlfriend with an Audi TT convertible. 1.8T, Tiptronic AT, baseball stitch brown leather on silver. She loved the thing more than anything else in the world. Cheated on me with some English teacher that didn’t speak Japanese and “looks like Jenson Button” (my ass, dude was just a normal Brit). Needless to say, the night drives I took in that car were more memorable than her.

      • 0 avatar

        Well the only girl I knew who drove a luxury car drove a C250, but her dad bought it for her so I do wonder if they already have a higher marketshare than the statistics would show.

        Still, I’m sure they want to sell something other than their cheapest models to people buying it for their daughters.

    • 0 avatar

      I see quite a few also. But then again, I also see them driving a lot of BMWs and especially Porsche.

      If you ask my wife, she would say, “meh” to any Mercedes…big or small and that everyone driving them is “old”. She would also tell you she has no idea how many cars and SUVs Mercedes has, that they look the same, and AMG doesn’t mean much to her beyond a “bigger engine”. But she can name most BMW, Porsche, and Bentley products.

  • avatar

    Mercedes needs a Macan competitor.

    Make it tampon shaped for incredible aerodynamics, and give it a 4′ x 4′ Mercedes 3-point star on the front and back that lights up brightly via LED, and it’ll sell like crazy.

    • 0 avatar

      If you equip it with body-colored bumpers, side windows, and 20″ AMG wheels, a Metris with a wrap of the Mercedes Star, the Metris would retail a lot more to consumers.

    • 0 avatar

      The GLC Coupe is coming, and it looks awesome.

      Not sure why MB is getting taken to the woodshed for leveraging its awesome brand, or its buyers for buying into it.

    • 0 avatar

      They have one.

      GLA AMG

      By the way, I test drove a 2014 C63. Sublime is an adequate descriptor for the car. Effortless acceleration. Comfortable, quiet and composed when you want it, rambunctious when you don’t.

      I’ve been perusing the forums and haven’t found any common issues for cars made after 2011 (such as the head bolt failures).

      I’d prefer a manual but I’m seriously thinking about it.

  • avatar

    It worked so well 10 years ago when Cadillac went for the female luxury car buyer with that woman in the red dress who liked to accelerate, right?

  • avatar

    This is surprising to hear as in LA (which at times seems to be in another world when it comes to car buying habits), it feels like MBZ resonates heavily with the female audience here.

  • avatar

    I wonder if our 2017 Clubman S went down as a male or female purchase from corporate’s view. I worked out the deal and placed the order (to her spec). We both signed the paperwork. The Motoring specialist was well aware it was her car and spent all the orientation time with my wife while I wrangled our threenager.

  • avatar

    It’s like they don’t understand marketing.

    If you want to sell anything to a man, you can always sell on “this is more manly”.

    However, with this sort of luxury good, you have to walk the line for women. If you are hamfisted about it, you say it’s “girly”, and that makes it ghettoized. You can say – it’s nicer, it’s more refined, it’s more X, Y, or Z, but if it gets the label “it’s a woman’s car” – women with disposable money are not going to buy it. Further, with the feminist sociologists telling us that we’re not in a “Death of Masculinity” era, but, rather, a “Death of Femininity”, with quantifiable feminine traits definitely on the cultural outs in the West – there will be no second coming of the Nash Metropolitan or Marilyn Monroe on a Pontiac Chieftain.

    • 0 avatar

      If the SJWs have their way, we’ll have the death of both masculinity and femininity, sad because they work well together.

      (For the stats, my wife’s toy is an ’88 560 SL. She tends to get waves from middle aged guys in Mercedes)

      • 0 avatar

        If an SJW can kill something, it either didn’t really exist, or wasn’t worth defending in the first place.

        The idea that some corpse-skinned sub healthy BMI’d Gawker addicted anything could kill something as basic and essential to the human existence as masculinity/femininity is laughable, and the suggestion of such speaks more to the fragility of people’s false ideas of it.

  • avatar

    What a croc. Most women I know would have a Mercedes if they could afford one, and some already have them.

  • avatar

    Again, law of small sample sizes, but the women I know purchasing a vehicle made the same price/performance/appearance/reliability comparisons I did when purchasing a vehicle. Never once do I remember them looking for “feminine” colours or options.

    My last two vehicles were purchased in conjunction with my partner, and in both cases she wanted a very specific set of creature comforts, one of which was the option to blast around anyone she didn’t like if needed so no complaints from me. We even ended up loving the same colour.

  • avatar

    BS. every Mercedes SUV ( I have no idea what they call them) I see on the road is driven by a woman.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I do believe Mercedes Benz does have a better handle on marketing their products than say …….. Caddy.

    Maybe a Caddy exec will read this article and implement “How to get Women to Buy a Caddy” program in place.

    I don’t care what Mercedes Benz does, so long as their up and coming midsize pickup, the AMG version is done in true AMG fashion, with off roading in mind.

  • avatar

    Ninety-nine point nine percent of women don’t like men in leather pants.
    But one hundred percent of men in leather pants don’t like women either…

  • avatar

    I actually find it the opposite where I live. In the brooklyn area i would say about 80% of the mercedes vehicles that you see on the road are being driven by women. But it wasn’t always this way. It has grown drastically in the past 5 years to become 80%. I don’t know what it’s like in different cities but for brooklyn this is what I know for a fact.

  • avatar

    I always thought that, over the years, the various Mercedes SL models seemed to be designed to appeal to women. They were too slow to appeal to men, especially the 190, 230, 250 and 280 SL models.

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