Welcome to another cringeworthy attempt at redesigning a product to better market it to women. The magazine Cosmopolitan unveiled its own version of the Seat Mii at FashFest in London last week and the entire thing, from press coverage to the actual vehicle, is a complete mess.
First the Seat launch site, which kicks the generalization and infantilization of half the planet’s population into high gear. The site features a ‘Girls just want to have fun’ banner with a grown woman riding a merry-go-round in the background followed by another image of a woman holding a lollipop. Cosmo sure understand the modern woman’s love of sugary, colorful treats and boring carnival rides. It’s like they have a glimpse inside the lives of me and all my friends!
Of course, a company with such a savvy understanding of what women want would produce a glittery purple car that’s “easy to drive and park.” This Mii’s headlamps are even design to look like it’s wearing eyeliner, just like you! Then came the reveal on a catwalk during FashFest. The car, designed for women by a women’s magazine, was driven out on to the catwalk amidst much confetti and fanfare by a man. Because as all we ladies know, the best accessory in life isn’t a cute car, it’s a dude who will take over all that pesky driving and door opening for you.
“No one knows women like Cosmopolitan” the reveal website states. Really? Cosmo innately knows what all 3.5 billion of us think, want and need? According to Cosmopolitan, we ladies need a car that can serve as “a place for impromptu karaoke performances, last-minute wardrobe changes, dramatic gossip sessions and emergency lunch-hour kips.” Clearly they’re trying to sell a lifestyle or image, rather than a vehicle. While that works for many products, it is the wrong way to go when talking to women about cars.
Let’s look at the data. Woman already make the vast majority of car-buying decisions. Not only for themselves, but for their families as well. Women play a leading role in over 80 percent of car purchases, according to NPR. In 2014, more women also had driver’s licenses than men in every age group, according to Forbes. Women spend more time researching vehicles, and have a long list of requirements in terms of safety, reliability and durability. Kelly Blue Book found that women focus on rational reasons to purchase a car before emotional reasons. KBB also found that while men see cars as “tied to their image and accomplishments, women are more likely to see them simply as a way to get from point A to point B.” Which means it’s men who are the emotional shoppers, not women. Painting a car as a gateway to a fun, exciting life isn’t going to get women to buy it.