Mom power: how to market to 51% of …

By now you’re starting to get sick of hearing all the staggering numbers, but everyone wants to fish where the fish are.
By 2010, women are expected to control $1 trillion or…

  • 60% of the country’s wealth, according to research conducted by BusinessWeek and Gallup.
  • Women purchase or influence the purchase of 80% of all consumer goods, including stocks, computers and automobiles.
  • Women earn more than half of all accounting degrees, four out of every 10 law degrees and almost that many medical degrees.
  • More than half of all new Web users are women, according to Jupiter Media Metrix.
  • Women make 80% of all consumer purchasing decisions, according to estimates by consulting firm A.T. Kearney.

Years ago, I worked on American Express and they were one of the forerunners to identify women as a lucrative target for the Gold Card. They told data and determine six different buckets women fit in based on their green card purchase behavior. The problem was we had no research on what it was about the Gold Card that would have made it an appealing proposition to women. Well what did we discover? Women didn’t want to be talked to as women. The Gold Card was the ultimate male business tool and they just wanted to be part of the club.

And that’s the danger I think exists today.
Everyone has figured out that women hold the key to the kingdom in terms of purse strings and decision making. All the traditional male bastions like automotive and financial services have gotten on the bandwagon in the quest to target women…everything from “Financial Planning Seminar Just for Women” or photos of women standing next to the latest automobile.

Is there anything wrong with this picture? Yes. Women don’t buy based on superfluous feminine pictures or descriptors that tell you this is just for them. We make decisions based on value. We make decisions based on feedback from the community. We weigh the product benefits for ourselves and how they benefit our families as a whole.

But despite the tremendous amount of initiatives targeting women today, they are also an astoundingly untapped market.

‘Stereotyping lives on’

  • Marketers often see women as just one homogenous group. “Stereotyping lives on,” says Mary Lou Quinlan, chief executive of Just Ask a Woman, a New York consulting firm. “Marketers see a 25-year-old woman as upbeat, on the way in her career, going out at night. The reality is she’s highly stressed, might not have a job, or be home with three kids.”

    Overall, women are much better defined by their occupations, interests and identities than by gender. “Focus groups, forms, e-mail customer feedback and other such tools will give you a clear understanding of women’s interests, including their passions, life stages, the problems they need solved, consumer sophistication level within your industry and the role they want your brand to play in their lives,” says Andrea Learned, coauthor of Don’t Think Pink: What Really Makes Women Buy and How To Reach Your Share of This Crucial Market.

  • Tailor your pitch, but . . .
  • But there’s definitely a tricky line to walk. On the one hand, you don’t want to fall into the cliche of coloring everything pink or dumbing down a message. On the other, it’s clear that women do respond when messages are created to be specific to them. “It’s like any sales presentation,” says Vanessa Freytag of W-Insight, a Cincinnati marketing strategy firm. “You need to change your style and tailor your pitch to the audience.” Don’t revamp your brand strategy when trying to target women. Instead, research why men like your product or service, then find the women who parallel those male buyers.

    • Polish the approach. Avoid being cutesy — depending on your product, of course — and treat women as capable and professional.
    • Emphasize information. During decision-making, women tend to gather more information than men do.
    • Aim for clarity.
    • Women buy based on relationships. You need to communicate issues, concerns, and incorporate listening into everything.

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