What a Girl Wants, What a Girl Needs

The Earliest Example of Female Power? (Adam and Eve. Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526. Courtauld Gallery, London.)

I have been reading this fascinating book EVEolution by Faith Popcorn and Lys Marigold which talks about how you can market to women. Unlike some of the other efforts in understanding women, this one goes beneath the surface of all things pink, sweet and fluffy.

Why should we market to women? Aren't the guys the ones making more money all along? Wrong! Read these facts (in US but I am sure Singapore would be similar) and weep:

1) Women buy or influence the purchase of 80% of all consumer goods. They also influence 80% of all healthcare decisions.

2) Women now buy 50% of all cars and influence 80% of their sales. Think about it, when a married man buys a car, does he just go and get it or consult his wife?

3) Women also start businesses at twice the rate of men (every 60 seconds) for a total of 9.1 million of them (in US).

4) Women led businesses employ some 27.5 million people in America - more than all the Fortune 500 companies combined.

Now those are humungous reasons for us to understand them. I certainly want in! So how does one do it?

Well, here are the Eight Truths of Marketing to Women:

1. Connecting your female consumers to each other connects them to your brand.

First, you need to bond the fairer sex together by creating a community of womenfolk. By now, we all know how much girls need to talk, interact and socialise with each other - from laboratories to lavatories, restaurants to retail. Connect them to each other as a group and they will love your brand for it.

Web communities such as iVillage, women.com, and oxygen.com are just a few of the examples of women being linked together.

2. If you’re marketing to one of her lives, you’re missing all the others.

Women increasingly play multiple roles - employee, mother, wife, chief domestic officer, cook, cleaner and so on. (Of course, men do play multiple roles too but I will leave that for another day). To win their hearts at the marketplace, you need to cater to their increasingly complex and multi-faceted lives. From home office services, to cameras keeping an eye on her kids at daycare, to offering a much needed spa treatment or meals on the go. Appeal to her need for convenience.

3. If she has to ask, it’s too late.

Isn't this true in both marketing and relationships? Like a doting husband, you need to anticipate what she needs. Find out what will be convenient and useful to her by envisioning what she goes through. If possible, involve other women in planning every step of the way and create innovative solutions to meet the hidden needs.

4. Market to her peripheral vision and she will see you in a whole new light.

The littlest details can set a women off - for good or bad. As a marketer, you need to cater to those minute hygiene factors that us men take for granted. Starbucks is one company that is EVEolved all around. Female customers can enjoy their coffee in a bright, clean place with a well-stocked restroom (a must if you want to attract women) and she can purchase the in-house music on CD or a cookie for her toddler in tow. Subtleties like aesthetics and the five senses - sight, sound, scent, taste and touch - affect ladies a lot more than we know it.

5. Walk, run, go to her, secure her loyalty forever.

Here is where convenience and anticipation comes in yet again. Juggling multiple roles in an increasingly hectic workplace, women need things to be delivered to them. See if you can find a way to make it easier and less of a hassle for them. Solve their pain and they will flock to you.

6. This generation of women consumers will lead you to the next.

Also called "brand-me-down" or inter-generational branding, women are more likely to pass down age-old traditions, practices and brands from mother to daughter than men do. In Asian markets where family ties are strong, the brand-me-down approach will definitely sell. You tend to use the same cooking oil and same washing detergent as your mother.

7. Co-parenting is the best way to raise a brand.

With their natural maternal instincts, women want to be involved in your brand. You need to get their inputs and their involvement from the onset - colour, features, price, service guarantees etc - in order to secure their loyalty. Make your female customers a part of your product development team.

8. Everything matters – you can’t hide behind your logo.

Ethical issues in marketing are more key than ever before, especially for the fairer gender. Don't neglect the environment, your employees, minorities or the poor. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) matters more than ever in this day and age. Discerning women will be able to sniff you out in an instant.

So there you have it. Eight tips to shape your marketing approach to women. As Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox has sung, "Sisters are doing it for themselves", so you better hurry or you will miss the boat!

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