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Women Friendly Design FeaturesCar Performance and Pedicures

by Jessica Howell

This year was host to Infiniti's first Limited Summer Engagement Tour, a three-city event that introduced Infiniti to the women's marketplace. The invitation-only luncheon offered vehicle test-drives, product information and various female indulgences (specifically manicures, pedicures, culinary and golf demon-strations) and was available to women who own, previously owned or showed interest in owning an Infiniti vehicle.

The event was an attempt to get women interested by presenting them with knowledgeable sales people in a non-confrontational setting, said JoAnn Lawler, Nissan's Manager of Lifestyle Marketing.

"We're trying to establish relationships," adds Lawler, "while at the same time providing a comfortable atmosphere where women can relax, ask questions and test drive the vehicles without feeling the pressure to make an on-spot decision."

Two groups of 30 women leisurely arrived for the afternoon event held in an air-conditioned tent that was set up in a Chicago parking lot. Infiniti's attempt at luring the women was obvious — plump gift bags decorated a registration table and a friendly, predominantly-female staff was on hand to answer any questions and direct the ladies from one activity to the next.

Spa amenities were provided to keep women occupied while waiting to test drive vehicles, although it seemed that test-driving kept them occupied while they waited in line for neck massages and pedicures. Whatever their preference, the women seemed to enjoy themselves, and most of all, appreciate the fact that a car company was finally trying to get their attention instead of their husbands or fathers.

Focusing on Infiniti's signature sleek design and classic interior touches, women test-drove vehicles on a five-mile course along Chicago's Lake Shore Drive. Safety features, like the new optional Lane Departure System that uses cameras to notify drivers when they drift into another lane, were demonstrated and discussed on a one-on-one basis. Available on the Infiniti FX, M and Q models, the feature proved to be a selling point among the attendants.

"Infiniti has so many standard safety features," said Daisy Wilson who came with her sister, an Infiniti owner. "We've been really impressed with what you get for your money."

Added her sister Suz Visor, "And even more impressed that they trusted their lives [driving] with us on Lake Shore Drive."

Rosie Martin of Chicago brought her daughter to the event for some female bonding. "They've been wonderful," she said of Infiniti, "this is something that you don't see other companies doing for women."

This wasn't, however, Infiniti's first attempt at marketing toward females. The Women's Forum, a previous program developed by Infiniti's Lifestyle Marketing Division, generated such positive feedback that it spurred this series of events. Infiniti also gained attention when they sponsored Fortune Magazine's Most Powerful Women Summit this year.

With females accounting for more than 50% of automotive sales, it is becoming increasingly necessary for manufacturers to market separately to women. By focusing on safety and providing a relaxed, yet informative atmosphere, Infiniti is gaining respect and appreciation from the female market one woman at a time.