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Don't pile on the puppies

We've been talking about the whole 'fuzzy-warm' issue in marketing to women a lot at the office lately.

There seems to be a widespread perception out there that if a brand wants to connect with female consumers, it's all and ONLY about being able to form an emotional bond with her. We call this the 'fuzzy-warm' syndrome and it makes our hair stand on end.

What frustrates us (and no doubt many, many other women out there) is the concept that a woman is ALL about emotions. (It's a little degrading, you know). Show us a puppy and we'll ohhhh and ahhhhhh over it and of course buy your product. Put the song "Unchained Melody" in your ad and you've got us - for the remainder of our consuming days. Show us a woman having fun, laughing with her girlfriends and we're right there, ready to pull out our over-flowing wallets! Do the warm and fuzzy on us and nothing else matters anymore.


The current hype surrounding the 'power' of the female consumer means there is great interest, albeit often misguided, in understanding women as consumers. We've all heard it - numerous times: connecting with female consumers emotionally is what it's all about.

I think this needs a little clarification.

Yes, an emotional connection with a brand is important to us. Yes, what Seth Godin said "women don't buy a brand, they join it" can be true.


We can only be great brand ambassadors IF many other criteria (and herein lies the crux of the matter!) are fulfilled too.

IF your product delivers what it promises

IF it helps solve the problem I want solved

IF price / quality makes sense to me

IF your service is outstanding - time and time again

IF you give us the information we want: where we want it, when we want it and in all the detail we want it

IF we sense you're being honest and care about more than just us and our money.

And yes, IF your marketing is inspiring and empowering, then we'll connect with your brand.
But don't underestimate us: this is no irrational relationship in which (to use a soppy song) "Love lifts us up where we belong", and one bad experience can still ruin the relationship forever.

Marketeers should remember that women's purchasing behavior is complex, and never based solely on an emotional connection.

As I've always said: Be Brave. Be Real. Show Value.


BE your audience.

Yesterday, a journalist who will be interviewing me next week on the topic of marketing to women sent me some questions, one of which really got me thinking.

This was it: "Do you think there need to be more female marketers?"

My answer to this question (Yes!) is the easy part. The difficult part may be the "why?"... but let me explain:

As women think, behave and consume differently than men do, so do female marketers approach marketing a little differently than their male counterparts.

Men, both in life and in business, tend to think in linear, hierarchical terms: "give me the facts / what are the numbers / show me the stats". Same goes for male marketeers.

Overlay this very linear approach to marketing with the female consumers' complex, non-linear, web-based thinking (and consuming) patterns, and things don't quite match up, do they?

Now, I am in no way saying that products for women can only be marketed to by women. I am saying that a product for women marketed ONLY by men is inherently lacking. Exclusion of either gender is never a good idea. To market a product well to either gender, women need to be included in the process (it seems like very common sense, not?). Men and women have many similarities but also differences. To honor the variety in gender, a marketing campaign that includes every perspective will strengthen the outcome.

Female marketers, by the sheer fact that they are, well...female, will approach marketing a little differently - the way they approach life: as a holistically, interconnected, "we notice the itsy-bitsy stuff you're not even mentioning too" kind of way. And to dispell the "warm-fuzzy feeling" this sentence may have wrongly instilled in some readers, remember that women also LOVE details and information. Yes, as female marketers we like the statistics and facts and numbers as much as the guys do, but for us these are not all defining in our marketing approach. We will often follow a gut-feeling or react on something we sense but which is not confirmed in the statistics, because we just know - the way women do - that it holds an important element of truth.

So yes, yes, absolutely: we need more women marketers. Women think differently than men do, so they must be marketed to differently than men. Who better to understand the audience, to relate to the market than someone who is part of it? While I am sure that most of the men who came up the sometimes brilliant, mostly creative campaigns for a variety of tampons (see my earlier post on the topic), I think women were able to more accurately relay which ones worked and which ones were cringe inducing. Sometimes its only a gut reaction, an undefined feeling, a hint, a nuance... but sometimes that is all it takes at the point of purchase for a women to decide to buy or to keep on walking.

Cardinal rule- know your audience. And when you can, when its possible, BE your audience.


A smart product is a battle half won

Smart marketing to women is not just about smart marketing. It's also about smart products.

Rexona has just come up with a very simple yet effective product that illustrates this point. It is a solution to a problem we've all encountered, yet never demanded to be solved: the dry roll-on ball in our roll-on stick.

Let me explain:

Those of us who use a roll-on stick know this scenario:
1. Walk to bathroom cupboard,
2. take out roll-on stick,
3. shake vigorously to lubricate the ball,
4. shake vigorously again with frustrated frown on forehead
5. turn ball of roll-on with finger to expose lubricated area
6. roll onto armpit vigorously for 30 seconds causing chafing before lotion dislodges onto skin

Infuriating, isn't it, that we have to do the whole shake-shake-shake, scrape-across-skin, roll thing before we can get any anti-perspirant lotion onto our skin?

Well ladies, in 2008 our problem is no more.

Rexona has developed a roll-on stick - wait for it - that stands on it's head, so to speak.

No more shaking, no more dislodging the ball before lathering on the anti-perspirant. Just a simple roll-on stick that is made to stand on its head and of which the roll-on ball is lubricated at all times.

Wow! How simple is that?!

Makes you wonder how it took us until 2008 to come up with it, doesn't it?

Now that's 'smart marketing' to women in terms of product development.
And the TV commercial isn't half bad either.)

What can we learn from the Rexona example?
1. The answer to developing an effective, successful product is often much more obvious than we (marketers) think.
2. Use your product the way your consumer does, you'll learn a lot
3. ASK. Ask your consumers what they think of your product: how they use it, what they like, what frustrates them, what they would change if they could. Surely someone must have mentioned their frustration with dry roll-on sticks?

Smart marketing to women indeed isn't just about smart markting. It's also about smart products that answer real needs!

Want to bet this one's going to sell like hot cakes?


Spring is HERE!!!

Apologies for the short absence: work has been enormously busy and in the little free time I had the past two weeks was dedicated to being OUTSIDE in the sun.(Belgians will understand. After a loooong, dreary winter, there's no stopping us). Priorities are priorities, people.

Having said that: there's a lot happening in the exciting world of M2W!

The first issue of the Muse newsletter is due out later this week. If you haven't yet subscribed and you'd like to receive it, drop us a line (link at top of blog)!

First up: A GREAT new site on all matters/blogs related to women (and I'm not talking lipstick and hairspray here!) Have a look here
I much prefer this site to Yahoo's new "female portal", Shine.

Secondly: Clo, here's one for you! US-based TechGirlz is doing a survey on women in technology. How about we give them some European stats too? Take the survey here Let's spread the word!

A great book just out: "What men don't tell women about business" and M2W colleague Andrea Learned's review of the book here.

And last but certainly not least for today: Michelle & Holly, authors of 'The Soccer Mom Myth' and two M2W pioneers, put out a weekly newsletter with tips on how to think about marketing differently. Subscribe here!