Women represent the fastest-growing segment of Internet users. Nearly half of all motor vehicles annually are sold to women. Add those two facts, and the sum is a potentially powerful marketing tool for automakers - and a potentially lucrative business for Web sites such as women.com.
Studies consistently show women use the Web 'to gather information as opposed to surfing,' says Gina Garrubbo, executive vice president of women.com.
Women.com, which was founded in 1995, was among the first online media companies to produce Internet content for women and to pioneer automotive advertising aimed at women through its Web sites. Its audience is the industry's kind of woman: The typical user is a 34-year-old professional who is college-educated, earns $53,000 a year and is married.
'We went to the automotive companies early on and told them we have this woman who is well-educated, upscale and an early adopter of new products. It hit a chord,' Garrubbo says. Virtually every auto manufacturer has since advertised on women.com.
Last year Ford Motor Co. launched a promotion in which it gave away spa visits in exchange for names and addresses of qualified women buyers. Within four weeks, Ford's list included 19,000 names, Garrubbo says.
'Automobile manufacturers recognize that this is a tremendous branding opportunity,' Garrubbo says. 'It's not enough to say automakers should use us to reach a female demographic; they should use it to reach a particular psychographic.
'They should speak to women in association with different lifestyles.'