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RECENT research by RFI Global on the Australian auto finance landscape has shown that when it comes to researching finance options for the car purchase, women are further ahead of the curve than men.

A presentation of RFI Global research commissioned by Angle Auto Finance showed that women consider car financing options earlier than men, and that finance considerations were on the agenda for women even before the brand or model came into the picture. Affordability was also front-of-mind for women.

The research also revealed that women are keeping their cars for longer and intend to run them for longer than men. This is a consideration for dealerships when calling customers to change over their cars. Women may be less ready to change than men.

The RFI research is a survey of car buying customers who have been approved for a car loan and have bought a car in the past two years.

Addressing the recent inaugural ‘Women in Auto’ breakfast sponsored by Angle Auto Finance, the insights director of RFI Global, Anna Perera-Shaw, said that what stood out in the data was the fact that women think about finance earlier in the journey. 

Anna Perera-Shaw, insights director of RFI Global

“So before they walk into the dealership, before they start researching car brands, they’re thinking: ‘I need finance to buy this car”.

“Men think about finance later, according to our research,” she said. 

Ms Perera-Shaw spoke as part of a panel discussion featuring industry expert Carol Lydford; Angle Auto Finance’s head of strategic growth, Susan Jobson; and Angle Auto Finance’s chief people officer, Allyson Carlile. This followed Julie Bale, CIO at Energy Australia’s keynote presentation. 

Ms Perera-Shaw also said men first start thinking about the car they need and then start thinking about how they are going to pay for it. Men, she said, are also more likely to be thinking about additional features or the brand, or want to know more about the car itself.

“The distinction is that women are thinking about affordability front-of-mind. What can I afford? What are my needs? 

Source: RFI Global

Source: RFI Global

Source: RFI Global

“Also, the reliability of the vehicles is quite important, particularly for women. Is this going to last me through the years? Does it meet the needs of myself or my family? The size of the vehicle and the overall running costs are important which is interesting when we think about EVs as well. 

“This is not to say that some women aren’t very car-focused, some love the brand, love the speed and love the luxury. But what we do see is that finance focus among women to a greater extent than men.

“The research process is also really interesting. Women are using a greater number of research sources on average compared to men. They are speaking to friends and family and are walking into a dealership looking for advice. They’re going online, they’re having conversations, whereas men are more likely to use less research sources. 

“Women are more likely to be asking trusted peers, particularly their friends and family; is this the right choice? What would you recommend? What have you found to be good for your needs? 

“We think about the role that dealerships play as well. Women are going there for guidance. They’re going there to ask questions to see their options and they really rely on that guidance. 

“We see in the RFI research that one of the reasons people like car finance is because it offers certainty of repayments, particularly in an environment, like we are in now, where costs keep going up. 

“And when our expenses are going up and grocery prices are going up, knowing that my car loan is this amount every fortnight or every month and is a sure thing, is something that just gives them that certainty they can budget it in and they know what they’ve signed themselves up for. 

(L-R) Panel discussion featured Angle Auto Finance’s chief people officer Allyson Carlile, Angle Auto Finance’s head of strategic growth Susan Jobson, industry expert Carol Lydford and insights director at RFI Global Anna Perera-Shaw

“So women are mentioning finance early in the journey.” 

Ms Perera-Shaw said that having women sales staff would be an advantage in the showroom because women are seeking guidance and that walking into a dealership and seeing women there who they can talk to could help make them feel comfortable.

“When we think about negotiation, specifically, the RFI research also showed that men are more likely to have successfully negotiated elements of the car; whether it’s additional features, additional discounts or added benefits. 

“But I think there’s something interesting about considering who is in your dealerships. Is it a place that women feel is accessible? Is it a place where they are comfortable asking questions, where they can negotiate and discover what their options are? 

Ms Perera-Shaw also said that women are looking for a purchase that can last a long time. 

“We find in the research that on average women are actually holding on to their cars longer compared to men and that they intend to keep the car for longer as well. 

“So they’re looking for something that really meets their needs and will last.” 

Ms Perera-Shaw said that researching EVs would involve a completely different point of reference.

But, she said, because of women’s inclination towards early research, women are actually in a great position to be getting ready to step into the EV space because of the way they think about vehicle purchasing and financing.

“The interesting thing with EVs, and I think this is a resistance point, is the fact that all of us who own an ICE vehicle know how to use it, we know what it involves, we know how to get petrol, we know what kind of petrol to use, and we have probably owned a few cars in our lifetime. 

“But buying an EV requires different information. Where are the chargers? Is my house set up to actually get solar panels that can charge my batteries? Do I have the storage? Do I live in an apartment in the city? Is this EV really feasible for me or my family?  Maybe a hybrid? Which way do I go?

“There are all these extra considerations and right now I think that is still a barrier,” she said.

Highlights video of the Angle Auto Finance ‘Women In Auto’ 2024 breakfast.

Click above to view the 2 minute video

By John Mellor

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