Women represent one of the largest buying forces in America’s economy both as individual buyers and as the chief purchasers in their households. Women also tend to be more vocal about products they like, and they often buy for others. This means that even products that are not specifically for women are often purchased by them. On average, women exchange gifts with other women more frequently than men exchange gifts with other men, and beyond this, many women serve as professional buyers for companies and organizations. With this kind of consumer on the loose, the savvy marketer will want to consider and address their specific needs and preferences. But a successful campaign will require more than pretty pink packaging and will need to take into account the fact that this demographic encompasses a variety of ages and lifestyles. There is certainly no one-size-fits-all marketing plan. However, here are a few tips on how to appeal to and respect female consumers.
1. Create a Narrative for Women
Narrative is one of the many tools that successful brands like Starbucks, Nike and Dove use to connect with consumers on a level that goes beyond utility. Traditionally, these companies have paired quality products with carefully crafted consumer narratives. Where Starbucks represents an affordable luxury and an escape from the grind, Nike represents athletic prowess and maximum effort. In commercials and ad campaigns, consumers are invited to envision the best possible outcome of their interaction with the advertised product. This method can appeal to male and female consumers. Remember, part of advertising is helping the potential buyer to foresee the utility of the product, and a narrative is a packaged way of accomplishing this.
If you are new to the advertising world and need more examples, commercials are an easy place to identify a storyline. Once you have a better sense of the kinds of stories commercials tell, you can look more closely at online and print advertisements to see how well-placed graphics create a similar effect.
2. Educate Both Female and Male Consumers
While women value emotional connections and often respond to products showcased using a narrative element, marketing cannot be successful without a quality product. Typically, women want well-made, practical items. So marketers will do well to educate consumers as to all the practical uses for their services or retail items. Don’t assume that everything about your product is intuitive; make the connections easy for your consumers. Furthermore, if you are marketing related products or products that can be purchased in a bundle, highlighting that information can result in additional sales. In this economy, women and men alike are looking to make their money go further.
3. Market to Women Via Word Of Mouth
Women love to share bargains, brand names and favorite buys so it behooves the retailer to make the buying and return process as simple as possible, especially if the purchasing is done online. Women who have a positive buying, exchange and even return experience, and who find the product useful, will share this information with their friends. Allow your consumers to market for you by making it possible to “Like” your product on social media sites and by enabling on-site product reviews. Also, avoid tactics that take advantage of consumers such as hidden pricing that appears only at the time of sale and misrepresented bargains and ensure timely deliver. Negative information will get out via word-of-mouth and can reduce sales potential.
4. Get Women Involved in Marketing and Purchasing Processes
Women often prefer to buy on recommendations from other women, and some companies have found that a woman sales force can increase revenue from the female demographic. Depending on your product, this may mean hiring additional female content writers or sales reps, seeking out women endorsements or simply involving women team members in product design and marketing if this is not already being done.
5. Avoid Gender Marketing Stereotypes
While depictions of women in marketing ads have made great strides from the strict gender roles of the 1950’s, there are still plenty of opportunities to expand towards more realistic depictions. Remember, women do not whip into a frenzy at the mere sight of pink or the promise of easy weight loss solutions. They want more information to validate the claims made about a product before they buy. And at this point they’ve heard a lot of the bogus claims, seen the cheesy color schemes and the cliché-phrasing and it all has become one big turn-off. Remember, if your product is sold predominately online, women can easily compare it with your competitors.
Now, more than ever, women want efficient products that cater to their busy lives and that recognize and celebrate them as career-oriented, family-focused, and in general, people with a lot on their plates. Some are tired of browsing the bookstore in the “Men’s Interest” sections. Others want to be recognized and valued as caregivers, mentors, parents, or professionals. They want to see their diversity represented in age, race and body type. Within these categories and many others are opportunities for marketers to better reach this distinct group of consumers.