Photo courtesy of @sirjoancornella on Instagram
We came across an industry article recently that mentioned the presence of “booth babes” at car shows, or more specifically, the deliberate reduction of “booth babes” at car shows.
It’s no secret that women are not a driving force in the auto industry, which is a problem for any product and service driven business because women make up more than half the U.S. population and hold the majority of driver’s licenses in the United States. This is a very serious problem for the auto industry, but it has done very little to remedy it.
A recent study by Northwestern University found that auto-repair shops give women significantly higher price quotes than men when the customers are uninformed about market prices. And a 2013 survey of car owners and leasers by a consumer resource site reported that seventy-seven percent of respondents said mechanics are more likely to sell women unnecessary repairs, and sixty-six percent believed that mechanics charge women more than men for the same services.
That’s why the glaring reduction of “booth babes” at this year’s Geneva Car Show garnered so much surprise and coverage by the media. ABT, a company that sells custom cars and parts, employed models at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, but this year went with a coffee bar. Major automakers including BMW, Nissan, Toyota, and Kia told CNN they were not using models at the event.
Has the industry suddenly woken up? Is this yet another marketing ploy that piggy backs on the uprising of the women’s equity movement? Or is it a compassionate response, maybe long overdue, but still a step in the right direction?
It’s easy to be skeptical. If the movement dies down, will these carmakers still be looking to please the one demographic they have worked so hard to undermine all these years? Only time will tell.