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Independence Day: How carmakers are reaching out to KSA women drivers

As Saudi women get behind the wheel of a car for the first time in history, automotive dealers in the Kingdom are taking their marketing strategies into high gear to capitalise on the lifting of the ban on women drivers.

Last year in September, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud had revoked the Kingdom’s ban on women drivers, saying women in the country will be allowed to drive by June 2018.

This landmark move has opened up a whole new contingent of potential customers for automakers and dealers, who are enthusiastically considering the most effective ways to reach out to new women drivers.

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Driving Force

Andrew Savvas, Brand Director for Volkswagen Middle East says, “The experience of driving is unique to each and every person who gets behind the wheel. It can be relaxing, thrilling or quite simply, an occasion that is necessary. People are at the core of our automotive creations at Volkswagen and so to celebrate the joys of driving with men and women across the Middle East is exciting for us, especially as we approach the lifting of the female driving ban in Saudi Arabia.”

When asked how best to describe the way driving makes them feel, over two thirds (76%) of drivers across the GCC said it makes them feel happy, excited and independent according to findings from a recent YouGov survey undertaken by Volkswagen Middle East.

Today (June 24), Volkswagen Middle East has launched its ‘#100SimpleJoysOfDriving’ campaign, which was created to showcase the region’s driving habits and highlight the joys of being in the driving seat.

In the driving seat

Similarly, Ford Motor Company has launched video campaigns with the hashtag #WithYouInFront, as a way of welcoming Saudi females to the front, and into the driver’s seat.

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“This is a wonderful moment in history for women in Saudi Arabia because the moment you get behind the wheel of your own vehicle, life can change in so many positive ways. We look forward to supporting a whole new generation of women drivers in the Kingdom,” says Jim Farley, Executive Vice President and President, Global Markets, Ford Motor Company.

Being operationally ready

Nadim Ghrayeb, Head of Marketing, Cadillac Middle East, tells AMEInfo, “Our priority for today is operationally ready, as I think that’s the most critical thing right now. That’s why we’re working closely with our dealers and making sure our sales staff are trained and ready to receive women customers. Advertising and marketing campaigns are secondary things to making sure we, or any car dealer, can start delivering automobiles.”

He says it’s not that Saudi women have started looking at automobile advertising now.

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“Instead, they’ve been looking at every brand’s advertising for the last several years. So I don’t think that all of a sudden the messaging has to change or it has to skew.”

“We’ll also potentially look at more activities on the ground, such as test drive campaigns, educational programmes, and things like that,” he adds.

Crystal Worthem, Marketing Director, Ford Middle East and Africa, also says that there is a need to deliver a stress-free sales and service experience.

“Our local distributor has already invested in upgrading some of their facilities to welcome female customers with the assistance of a team of male and female sales consultants who have a rich experience with the Ford brand and products,” Worthem told AMEInfo.