How the battle of political correctness has made its way to the auto industry.
Oh what a joy to be living in a time where political correctness is a must for modern PR firms at the same time that a push back against this form of politeness is taking place. It requires a delicate juggling act between the two sides so that companies can keep the plain-faced image that makes them seem friendly to all consumers without alienating the other side. That’s why despite winning Women's Car Of The Year, Mercedes is having a hard time capturing the attention of female buyers.
Around the world, women buy Mercedes less than men do, and this represents lost cash for the German automaker. In its home country, only 20% of buyers are female and in the US, 40% of Mercedes buyers have estrogen coursing through their veins. The percentage of Chinese buyers who are women sits at 25%, and this simply isn’t good enough for Mercedes. Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche wants to see this number grow to 30% by 2020 and he even labeled his crusade, “Women are the new China.” To meet this goal, the Tri-Star has been trying to woo women into dealerships using a variety of tactics including hosting its own Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and launching the “She Mercedes” campaign. At least it isn't as bad as Maserati's plan.
The Internet-based advertising movement promotes Mercedes as a lifestyle brand for the successful modern women. It includes a configurator that allows customers to choose favorite genres of music, the type of lifestyle they lead, and other basic interests in order to have a model and powertrain selected for them. Some have criticized the campaign for alienating women by treating them as people who don’t know the first thing about cars and need an online tool to pick an engine for them based on their favorite color. Aside from coming off as sexist, Mercedes needs to ensure that whatever marketing tactic it uses to sell more cars to women doesn’t alienate its male customers either, meaning that its sales team has its work cut out for it.