Women are having a bigger impact on auto sales than ever, including the rise in SUV sales.

It’s pretty well known that women buy more than half the new vehicles sold in the U.S. every year and influence at least 80% of all vehicle purchases. So it should come as no shock that it’s women who are leading the uptick in sport-utility and crossover sales.

More specifically, it is single women who led the charge last year, which helped the industry achieve its new single-year sales record of 17.5 million units.

In the last five years, small SUV sales to women rose 34%, compared to a 22% rise for men, according to MaritzCX, a customer-experience software and research company.

During that same timeframe, premium small SUVs, though smaller in raw numbers, saw 177% growth in sales to women. And among female carbuyers overall, a full 40% aren’t married.

(Find out what TDB thinks of the 2017 GMC Acadia. Click Here for the story.)

“There’s a group of single, professional females out there that need vehicles, and you need to be attentive to them,” James Mulcrone, director of research services for MaritzCX’s Michigan office, told Bloomberg News. “They’re going to make money, they’re going to make their own decisions, and they can be very loyal consumers.”

The impact of women on auto sales has been tracked for decades; however, the shift from “influencing” to “buying” has been the more compelling figure to track. The company noted that increasing income and education as well as the fact that women are waiting longer to get married and start families have created a power segment of buyers that is growing rapidly: single women.

More than two-thirds of female buyers reported their 2015 purchase decision as “entirely up to me,” and the appeal of SUVs, with ample cargo room and improving fuel economy, is widespread, Bloomberg reported.

(Click Here for details about what’s new in 2017.)

Automakers use focus groups and other research to capture data to determine what types of vehicles women want and then make sure they’re available.

According to a Kelley Blue Book survey, women do more research than men when purchasing a vehicle. They also take longer to make a selection.

Women responded that they are more likely to prefer non-luxury sedan and SUVs. While durability and reliability are important to men and women, safety ranked higher with women than it did with men.

(To see the rest of what’s new for next year, Click Here.)

Women prioritized value, practicality and reliability higher than men did as well. Finally, women are interested in form and function with safety being extremely important. Rational needs should be addressed before emotional needs are, KBB noted.

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