Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Who has the say in when purchasing a family automobile in 1950s America? Men or Women, and regional differences.
Thanks to Ed Garten for calling attention to this newspaper article.
From The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 20, 1954
Car-Buying Is Man’s Job in the West
Men on the West Coast still wear the pants in the family when it comes to buying a new car. Dominance of the male recedes eastward. Women take their most prominent role in selecting a new car in the southeastern states. At least that is the opinion of top zone salesmen who merchandised some $25,000,000 worth of new automobiles last year.
Women on the West Coast have the least to say about what car the family buys. One salesman said he didn’t think the fair sex was a factor in one sale in 10. But a Midwest salesman said a woman’s opinion counted in almost every case.
Country-wide the wife’s judgment is considered in 60 percent of all transactions. And the little woman has the final say in 37 percent of the deals.
The auto industry began paying more attention to what women wanted in a car after the Second World War. Several factors were involved, among them the American move to the suburbs, the increasing number of two car families, and the influx of women into industry and the professions. The distances involved in suburban living require more and more that the woman of the house be able to drive a car. Those who can afford it own two cars – for “him” and “her.” And economic prosperity has boosted the number of two-car families to an all-time high.
Right now 29 percent of the 66,825,827 licensed drivers in the U.S. are women. More than half of these ladies are between 20 and 39 years of age, when they are either working or raising young families that change the automotive requirements of the household.
Women are mainly responsible for the color and brightness of today’s cars. The man in the house may decide the mechanical features he wants in his car but milady is chiefly interested in how it looks. As long as it looks good and runs properly she isn’t inclined to count the number of “horses” under the hood.
That’s why you find cheerful colors decorating interiors—bright blues, greens, browns, and reds. If the woman can enjoy them in their homes they see no reason why they can’t do the same in their cars. As one salesman put it: “Sell the little lady first and the rest is easy.”