No wonder women were gathered at the shipping counter of New York’s Hilton Hotel last week; every attendee had the chance to leave BlogHer with multiple shopping bags of swag offered by desperate brands vying to get her attention. Yep, even I left with a big burlap bag full of Playdoh, alarm clocks, coffee cups, and coupons–and that’s after I sorted through and recycled what I didn’t want. (They took the Playdoh at airport security, FYI.)
Why the hysteria? Because women, represented by the 2400 BlogHer attendees, are the new social customers: women now have both the power and the tools to make or break a product or service. Even when I briefly worked on Madison Avenue during the Mad Men era, male executives knew women had the household power. Now, with careers and communications tools, we girls have power outside the home as well–a major conference sponsor was Chevy Volt. Yes, a car. Women also do most of the car buying.
According to BlogHer co-founder and woman entrepreneur Lisa Stone, Blogher reaches 21 million women every month through it’s 2500 blogs. And the female consumer, controlling 83% of the household budget, is a powerful messenger. BlogHer’s audience is young, educated and affluent, reflecting the statistics of women on the Web. Half of the people online are women, 96% of women online read blogs every day, and 83% also use social networks. For women with special needs, there are even message boards. Women share. (Disclosure: I am on the Advisory Board of EmpowHer, the top women’s health site. It’s two major principles have always been “ask” and “share.”) Women online, Lisa Stone told the BlogHer audience, trust social media sources more than traditional media, perhaps because they are looking for places they can talk about issues. In 2008, the election beat sex as a topic of interest. Women want to engage, to use that overworked word–with candidates, with brands, with each other.
This new customer cannot be just a data point. She wants a personal relationship with the products she uses. She wants to know what is in them, and if anything could be toxic for her family. She wants to be treated with respect, not stereotyped. She’s not easily fooled, nor easily impressed. More important, she spreads the word, for good or ill. Forty years later, the “women’s movement” has brought you a customer than will wrestle your CRM tools to the ground if you try to use them for marketing and not for a better customer experience for her.