Marketing, Gender, and Cars

For my case study I intend to highlight how marketing has created gender associations with certain car styles and brands.

The current ideas to look into are the following:

– The change in who buys vans.  In the 70s the van had its own culture where young males turned the side of vans into art.  Even earlier than that the Volkswagen Bus was one of the classic symbols of the 1960s flower power counter culture movement.  Now vans are associated with suburban soccer moms.

– The Volkswagen Beetle in the 1960s was another car associated with “flower power.”  In the late 1990s the car was Resurrected as the New Beetle and it also had flower power in the form of a flower vase on the dashboard.  The majority of consumers for the model were female.  Recently however the Beetle has undergone its first remodel since the car was brought back in 1998.  The new marketing campaign is attempting to broaden the car’s market and trying to attract male buyers by focusing on the performance of the vehicle.  Prior to this redesign the biggest changes they made with the car was offering more pastel color options.


1. Are there any other examples you can think of a car model or type that has shifted its buyer base from one demographic to another?

2. What gender stereotypes are associated with certain car models or styles?

3. Which do people view more negatively: A male driving a vehicle associated with women or a woman driving a vehicle associated with men?


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