The Detroit Three Cannot Attract Female Buyers image

Even if last year women accounted for 39% of all new cars sold in the US, the Detroit Three still have problems attracting female customers, as many of them prefer foreign automakers.

“The bad news is, domestics aren’t doing as well as the import brands, but the good news is it’s improving,” said Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry analysis at online research site “There’s still the mindset (among women) where domestics don’t make good cars — and if you have any kind of money and status, you buy an import car.”

Data from R.L. Polk & Co. shows that no US brand was among the first 10 automakers with the highest percentage of female customers. The ones to top the list were Mini, Kia, Nissan, Honda and Fiat, with Buick being the only car maker which managed to top the industry average of female buyers, with 39.3% compared with the industry’s 38.8%. The brands which succeeded in improving their female-male sales mix in the past five years are Buick, Cadillac and GMC. Still, Ford, GM and Chrysler continue to be behind their foreign rivals when it comes to brand perception.

“When you look at the big segments in the industry, like midsize, and you think about the top reasons for the purchase, it’s quality, reliability, dependability, fuel-efficiency and long-lasting. And the imports dominate those areas,” said Anne Feighan, strategic planning director at advertising agency Campbell-Ewald.