Smart marketing to women isn't just about the way in which we relate brands to their female consumers, it's also about the corporate cultures in which the marketing decisions that affect female consumers are taken.
Traditionally corporations were driven largely by men and male qualities, which no doubt accounts for many a failed marketing-to-women campaign. A lack of awareness and recognition of gender differences in communication begins at home, inside the corporation behind the brand. So unless corporations change on the inside, they cannot hope to change - authentically - in the interaction with their consumers.
Fellow gender expert Michele Mees recently wrote the post
"Should we expect women to change corporate culture?"
Now that the pendulum is in full swing and more and more women are assuming positions of power, the question is: will they demonstrate balanced leadership styles with the necessary respect for feminine qualities and values, or will many simple become clones of the male bullies they so despised during their own careers?
I agree with Michele: we cannot put the responsibility for changing corporate cultures solely on women's shoulders, but we can expect our female leaders to set an example that will help change those cultures.
All too often, women who assume power - whether in large corporations or in their own companies - begin to emulate the domineering, destructive leadership styles they were forced to navigate to craft their own careers.
So yes, female leaders should be held accountable to "walk the talk" and demonstrate balanced leadership styles based on the respect, power-sharing and empowerment they fought so hard for. And so they will help affect a shift in corporate culture - and ultimately in the way in which we approach female consumers.
Good news, ladies! When it comes to vaginal health, our periods and 'all things down there', we are finally ready to face the truth! At least according to Kimberley Clarke, the company behind the "U by Kotex" campaign.
Don't get me wrong: making vaginal health a discussable topic (or "taking the shame out of being a woman" as the Kotex brand guy puts it) is a great initiative and the campaign has some very creative, funny commercials that poke fun at the way advertisers used to talk about all-things-period.
Indeed, we shouldn't be embarrassed about having our period: we should dispel myths and teach our daughters that it's nothing to be ashamed of. And it's great that Kotex wants to "become a champion for women and a torch-bearer for a momentous cultural shift", but to say that it's because "women are ready for a change", as Andrew Meurer of Kotex says here, is taking things a tad too far. As if Kotex has always been ready to lead us to enlightenment, but we weren't quite ready yet.
Health. That deceptively short word occupies a very significant amount of a woman's mind. Whether they're thinking of loosing five kilos, buying a face-cream with sufficient sunblock or contemplating which yogurt contains less sugar and more active bifidus and is therefor healthier for the kids, not a day goes by in a woman's life without her considering someone's health - either her own or someone close to her.
I could therefor only applaud when Isabella Lenarduzzi of JUMP recently launched the 'Women's Health Academy' - a series of workshops centering on women and their health that she plans to build up over the coming months. Why? Because women are actively looking for information on how to improve their health - be it to slow down the aging process, loose weight, osteoporosis or breast cancer - and all too often brands do not make it for them to find the info. Clever are those, such as Isabella, that facilitate this knowledge transfer by bundling information on topics and invite experts in to discuss and answer questions as she does in these workshops.
Traditional loyalty strategies such as incentives and coupons are no longer enough to help you effectively reach your female consumers. If you are in the healthcare marketing business, here are some vital tips to reach your female consumers:
1. Talk with your female consumer. Women are often called "co-creators". Use this willingness to get involved and share their opinions, experiences and insights to your advantage. Ask them what they want, how they want to see your product / service evolve in informal 'feedback groups'. Not only will you get a wealth of valuable information, your consumers will also feel more connected to your brand.
2. Educate her. Women are constantly looking for information on topics related to their health. They will research and seek information in much more depth than men do. Why not facilitate this need for information by hosting a series of workshops or building a central knowledge platform on your product or service? Women value a personal and interactive experience that shows that you care.
3. Make it practical. Make sure your information offers a good combination of solid fact and real-life experience. A professor or doctor to provide the theoretical facts, ex-patients or "experience experts" to give a view on the actual experience.
4. Engage rather than sell. Remember that men and women buy differently. Men are driven by the deal. Women, on the other hand, first need to form a relationship of trust. Listening, coaching, engaging and offering her the opportunity to co-create are all ways to ensure you establish a long-term relationship with her.
5. Cut the cr*p! There's nothing worse than knowing that you're not being told half the message because people think you won't understand. Don't dumb down your message. Yes, take her level of subject knowledge into account (she's not a doctor or a scientist), but never speak down to her. Instead, provide detailed, truthful answers to concrete questions.
As Kelly Connors of Real Women On Health says: "marketers who shift their marketing paradigm from a "sickness" model focused on the treatment, to a "wellness" model focused on the individual woman will succeed."
And then there's the age old "be real" that we at Muse always harp on: "There's nothing more personal than healthcare and women detect inauthenticity quickly", concludes Connors.
I didn't start it, I promise. It all came about after the article "Flirting your way to the corner office" in Forbes Woman. When Isabella Lenarduzzi of JUMP - an organization that focuses on empowering women in the workplace - asked me to write a guest column on the topic for her newsletter, of course I said yes! We're both strong believers in the joys of flirting and we wanted to put the taboo topic on the table to clarify a few misconceptions for once and for all. Little did we know that it would open a true pandora's box! Newspapers, radio stations, even television programs suddenly want our views on the topic.
There are numerous product categories in which the opportunity to target women is a playing field that lies wide open: automotive, wine and banking are but a few. Another category that presents enormous opportunities for marketeers: the beer market.
Women have always had a love-hate relationship with beer. Even though women's beer consumption is impacted greatly by local customs and culture and thus varies greatly from country to country, there are a few universal prejudices and myths that severely impact women's consumption of beer, regardless of the country they live in.
Women's top arguments against beer drinking, according to a study by brewer Molson Coors:
1. Women still view beer as a "manly" drink.
2. 42% of women believe advertising has to change to make beer more appealing.
3. 25% said they think they wouldn't like the taste.
4. Almost 50% believe they will put on weight if they drink beer.
These findings are not surprising if one keeps in mind that the beer industry is one which has traditionally focused on men's needs and wants when it comes to developing and marketing products. And the few beer brands that have dipped toes into the waters of marketing their products to women do so by "pink washing" their products: same product, same positioning, pink label.
Even in Belgium, arguably one of the world's leading beer-drinking countries, women still feel left out in the cold when it comes to main-stream beers. (Here, they've developed - specially for us girls - beers made from cherries or raspberries). The danger of this approach however, is twofold: women feel patronized and men feel alienated. No-one wins. And when it comes to mainstream 'blond' beers - everyday, easy-to-drink beers, they're still marketed to appeal to men. Slogans for the biggest selling brands are a case in point: "Jupiler - men know why" or "Men, mates, Maes" will alienate female beer drinkers.
Kirsty McCready, who is assisting brewer Molson Coors in reaching female consumers hits the nail on the head: "We're not going to reshape the industry by simply launching beer products aimed at women," says McCready. "We need to look at the bigger picture and encompass the whole beer-drinking experience."
McCready highlights 3 key strategies to increase women's beer consumption:
1. Create innovations to change the taste of beer. (Think wheat beer spiced with coriander and orange peel served with a slice of orange).
2. Create "new ways (and new moments!) to drink beer" (think beer cocktails).
3. Launch myth-busting campaigns that speak to women in an appealing way about their prejudices surrounding beer.
Another great tactic brewer Purity Brewing Co employs to appeal to women? Use a beer-loving female celebrity to front the brand! Some creative thinking can extrapolate the idea into some great activities!
Women are ready to call themselves 'beer drinkers' as much as they identify themselves as enjoyers of wine. The question is: are beer brewers ready to acknowledge this opportunity and make the necessary decisions and investments to go after this opportunity successfully?
Read full article here.
Western Europe isn't exactly known for its prudish attitudes toward sex, drugs and rock-'n-roll, and yet...
Recently, Belgium's Jury for Ethical Practices decided to ban the Tour De France inspired billboard campaign of underwear manufacturer Sloggi. During the weeks of Tour De France hype, many billboards featured the 'Tour panties' as they quickly became known. "To capitalize on cycling-minded Belgium", according to Rob Brand of Sloggi Benelux.
This is it, ladies and gentlemen: the offensive campaign:
Which is a follow-on to this campaign (not considered offensive):
Now I must add that Sloggi is renowned for its sexy ads showing female butts. The brand even hosts its own 'most beautiful behind' campaign each year, so sexy butts are part of their visual identity.
Having said that, the question is: does the 'cycling campaign' offend me any more (or any less) than the 'scooter campaign? No.
Has the campaign enticed me to run to the store to buy one of the famous Tour panties? No. (But even if I wanted to I could buy one, I couldn't - because they don't exist! "We only made those for the campaign, not as real products" a salesman assured his customers recently).
Obviously this is a brand awareness raising campaign tagged onto a current-affairs event to maximize its relevance. So if the question is, has the campaign fulfilled that objective, the answer is yes.
If we speak of effective marketing - marketing that supports sales - the questions I'd love to get an answer to from Sloggi are:
Did it appeal to your customers and prospective customers?
Did you notice an increase in sales?
Has it affected/increased your market-share?
Or are you happy to call it 'successful' because it raised your Share-of-Voice for a few days?
The automotive industry is one of the traditional male bastions in business. All men and (almost) no women. But the industry is changing...slowly. Here's a team of female engineers at Ford, making a case for why the industry needs a female touch.
(...and what great PR for Ford, don't you think!)