According to a recent report by She-conomy, women account for 85% of all consumer purchases, including everything from autos to health care, and spend about $5 trillion annually, over half of the U.S. GDP. Women also dominate social sharing and online content creation; according to a report by bazaarvoice, women produced 60% of user-generated content in Q2 of 2011 and, interestingly, are generally more positive than men.
So you’d have thought marketers would appreciate the importance of the female demographic. And yet, according to the same report by She-conomy, 91% of women said that advertisers don’t understand them. So where is it going wrong and, more importantly, which companies are getting it right, and how?
1. Think outside your existing market.
2. Don’t stereotype.
Companies who think that marketing to women involves designing with pastel colors and pink bows are going to alienate the majority of their markets. Women respond to advertising that uses positive female role models and that portrays them in a strong and powerful way.
The 2010 Kia Soul commercial featured professional golfer Michelle Wie beating the men at their own game at the golf club, looking cool and confident. This was just one of several marketing campaigns, but Kia’s monthly sales rose 44% in 2011 compared to 2010.
3. Focus on design and practicality.
You don’t need to have separate marketing for men and women if you focus on good design and usability. Apple is a great example of a successful brand that has universal appeal; the beauty of its designs, color options, ease of use, and intuitive features appeal to women without alienating men. Its advertising reflects a gender-neutral, non age-specific appeal, with emphasis on the usability and adaptability of the products.
4. Know who is buying your product.
5. Understand the differences between men and women, without being patronizing.
6. Recognize real women.
The default argument used by advertisers for not only featuring women who are unattainably thin and representative of the narrowest standards of beauty, but then Photoshopping them beyond all recognition, is that “real” women don’t sell beauty products.
Dove’s Real Beauty campaign (begun in 2004) changed the face of the beauty advertising industry. With award-winning short films such as The Evolution of Beauty, and commercials featuring older or standard-sized women, Dove sought to show that “real” women are in fact beautiful, as beauty is not to be found in perfection. What was even more startling (to the beauty industry) was that Dove’s sales skyrocketed: Women could relate to the images and the message of positive self-esteem.
Brands looking to increase market share are going to have to look beyond superficial marketing ploys and understand that the women’s market isn’t a niche–it’s a driving force.
–Author Ekaterina Walter is a social media strategist for Intel.
[Image: Flickr user David Blackwell]