Mercedes-Benz wants to be the top choice among premium car brands for women by 2020, at which time it wants at least 30 percent of its customers worldwide to be women.
Daimler AG's premium brand is increasing its emphasis on attracting women because CEO Dieter Zetsche believes they are the world's "fastest-growing and most influential group of customers." Consulting firm Frost & Sullivan estimates that women influence 80 percent of new car purchases, either by buying a vehicle themselves or having veto power over their partner's choice.
To get there, Mercedes has to make up ground, particularly in Germany, where years of conservative design and a stuffy image as the preferred brand for rich, older men has turned female customers away. Even sponsorships such as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week have not helped.
While 40 percent of Mercedes' customers in the U.S. are women, the share shrinks to 25 percent for China and just 20 percent in Germany -- the three biggest markets for premium cars.