The Female Factor – Part Two

26th April 2017

Posted In: The Topic

In the first part on marketing to women we looked at how influential women are as consumers and how brands are often getting it wrong – and right – when it comes to marketing to this cohort. You can read it here>>

In this second part we look at how businesses can do better when it comes to marketing to women.

Words: Ruth Doris

Women are the world’s most powerful consumers and the engine of the global consumer economy, driving between 70 to 80 percent of consumer purchasing decisions with their buying power and influence.

Some brands are tapping into this cohort successfully, while others are failing miserably with patronising marketing campaigns and using tired old gender stereotyping.

So what are the likes of Dove and Marks and Spencer doing to get it right? And how can other businesses learn from their success and grab their own slice of the ever-increasing female consumer market pie?

Forbes contributing writer Bridget Brennan says a woman’s role as caregiver of children and the elderly in society is key to understanding what motivates her to buy a product or service. This “gatekeeper” role in the household has a “significant impact on how women approach the marketplace”. They aren’t just buying for themselves: they’re buying on behalf of the other people in their lives, and this impacts on how they make purchasing decisions.”

Carol O’Kelly of Redstorm Marketing believes manufacturers often make the mistake of “ignoring the female vote when promoting a product for the family or the household, especially cars, equipment and DIY stuff.”

Marketers need to understand the complexity of the female decision-making process, Carol says. “If you look at the research, they [women] do take an awful lot more elements into consideration when making a simple decision.”

“It comes back to the simplest thing, you must understand your audience, what worries them at 4am.” And brands must understand that female consumers are not one group. Carol says: “There may be 20 audience groups within the ‘women’ category.” 

Rachel Dalton, whose PR company twice organised a conference called Purse Power agrees that marketers need to be careful not to adopt a “one size fits all” approach to marketing to women. “We’re working on a pitch for a client and their target market is millennial women and there is just such an enormous shift in what motivates a millennial woman compared to, say, a woman of my generation.”

Bridget Brennan agrees that marketers are in a “transition period” with some barriers standing in the way of many brands making a strong connection with women. Under-representation of women at boardroom level can lead to some products and campaigns being based on “misunderstandings and stereotypes about women, rather than genuine insights,” Bridget says.

Investment in “meaningful market research with their target audience of women” is crucial, Bridget says: “In my experience, the companies that are most successful at marketing to women are the ones that leverage research to find true insights and solve genuine problems.”

“One of the biggest opportunities for brands to successfully target women in their marketing strategies is to ensure that whatever message is being communicated in advertising matches the actual customer experience”.

In order to really get their audience, brands need to ask for feedback and “immerse themselves in female culture”, Bridget says.

An important consideration is the impact of social media on women’s decision-making process when shopping. “Women are researchers by nature, so we like to get all the information before we make any decisions or opinions, so social media is the perfect thing. It suits our mindsets, that need for information, to make sure we have all the information that’s out there,” Carol O’Kelly says.

The type of social media women use is also important when it comes to understanding the role it has in female consumer decision-making. Research published by Amarach in February 2017 found 78 percent women use Facebook compared to 69 percent men. Women were also more active on WhatsApp and Snapchat, – which, like Facebook are more intimate and personal platforms, with people frequently sharing experiences and reviews of products and services – whereas men used LinkedIn and Twitter more than women did.

The good news is that it seems that brands are evolving when it comes to advertising to women. The MediaCom/ research found that 44 percent of adults believe that advertising has improved in how it portrays females. The same report found most adults (53 percent of men and 51 percent of women) agree that advertisers have recognised the equal importance of women as decision-makers when it comes to more significant purchases beyond just food items.