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On selling marketing to women - to men.

Often when I give presentations on marketing to women, I feel as if I'm preaching to the converted, so to speak.
Mostly, the people that attend our workshops already believe in the purchasing power of the female consumer. And mostly, the people that attend these workshops are - you guessed it: women.

Today I came across an article by Holly Buchanan titled "How to sell men on marketing to women". It's a great article by a lady who knows her stuff. And she tackles issues we still face so often today. It's well worth a read!

Another must-read this week is this report by Ad Age, called "The New Female Consumer: the rise of the real mom."
The report focuses on Generation-X and the Millennials, and although the research was conducted in the US, in my opinion still provides some great insights in to the collective psyche of these two generations.


The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Marketing measures much of its relevance and success by doing consumer research. From surveys and questionnaires to focus groups, we want (no we need) to know what our consumer is thinking. But what if the consumer we're asking isn't telling us the truth...? What if the method we're using to get information is no longer appropriate or effective. Chances are that we're then also producing data that does not reflect the truth, or even a part of it!

At Muse Communication we've long said that traditional focus groups no longer deliver the depth of data they should. We have a different way of approaching qualitative research (contact us if you want to know more). This article on, called "Listen up marketers: women aren't telling you the whole truth", touches on a few very relevant points to consider - and gives a few tips on how to improve the information you gain from your research.

If you think your female consumers aren't telling you the whole truth, then maybe its time to look at the way you're asking them...That's where the problem lies!


Social media: the new matriarchy?

An interesting report on social media usage trends throughout Europe.

The bottom line?

1. Internet usage is still largely task-based. News consumption, research & information gathering prior to purchase and staying in touch with friends are the most frequent activities.
2. We research EVERYTHING - from snack foods to holidays - online.
3. Comfortable strangers. The fabric of our social network is changing significantly. In the UK, for example, people stay in touch "face-to-face" with 21.4 people, while they stay in touch online with 49.3 people.

So what about women and social media?
It's definitively a new matriarchy! See "Information is beautiful"

Women now outnumber men on:
Facebook: 57 percent women users.
Twitter: 57 percent women users.
Flickr: 55 percent women users.

When we look at the influence of social media on Generation-Y women's behavior (view the stats here), we see exactly how powerful a communication tool social media networks are becoming...!

How to appeal to Hot Chicks (101).

I'm back from my Africa-adventure and ready to dive back into the wonderful world of marketing and marketing-to-women!

What a better way to start off again than by reintroducing Sarah Haskins and her "Target Women" spoof project. Sarah has been in the news lately as "the girl that takes on ad men". Incase you don't know Sarah, she's the lady who puts all the silly, misguided advertising aimed at women back into perspective.Sarah first made headlines in marketing-to-women land with this spoof on yogurt "the food of all women".

Here is her latest spoof "Hot Chicks!"


Gone Africa.

I am lucky enough to be able to realise one of my biggest dreams in the coming 3 weeks: to take part in a rally that goes from Belgium all the way to Gambia. Called the "Antwerp-Banjul Challenge", it's a rally of which the concept holds that you get your vehicle to Gambia in as good a state as possible and then auction it for a good cause of your choice. My team partner and I will be donating the proceeds of our vehicle (a 15-year old Land Rover Discovery) to a small hospital in southern Gambia that is in dire need of a gynaecological ward (1 in 32 Gambian women still die due to birth related complications). So that's our goal!

We leave today. 7000 kilometers in 18 days.

I won't be posting here in the coming weeks, but I will be updating the Sunshine Shooters blog with Twitter updates daily and with blogposts whenever possible.

See you when I get back!


The female economy according to Harvard Business Review

There's a very interesting article circulating amongst M2W experts out there. It was published by Harvard Business Review recently and it shares some shockingly concrete facts about women as a market.

"As a market, women represent a bigger opportunity than China and India combined. So why are companies doing such a poor job of serving them?"

Read that again: a bigger opportunity than China (1.3 billion) and India (1.17 billion) COMBINED.

And yet, as the article says: so many companies still think of women as a "niche" market. And those that don't - the ones that sell all the female products such as lipsticks, dresses and shoes - still mostly do a poor job of it.

You can read the full article here.


Goodyear offers free car maintenance workshop for women.


Goodyear organiseert “Veilig en goed voorbereid op weg” – een gratis workshop auto-onderhoud voor (en door!) vrouwen

Speciaal voor vrouwen uit Brussel en omgeving organiseert Goodyear in samenwerking met Vulco Kortenberg op donderdag 1 oktober 2009 een gratis workshop auto-onderhoud. De Ladies Training “Veilig & goed voorbereid op weg” vindt plaats op donderdag 1 oktober van 19.00 tot 21.30 uur bij Vulco, Leuvensesteenweg 62 in Kortenberg. De deelname is gratis.

Een praktijkgerichte aanpak!
Met de winter in aantocht maakt Goodyear van deze gelegenheid gebruik om de dames tijdens deze twee uur durende workshop wegwijs te maken in de ‘basics’ van auto-onderhoud: van het peilen van de olie, het bijvullen van de ruitenwisservloeistof en het meten van de bandenspanning tot het verwisselen van een lekke band. Ook tal van nuttige tips en weetjes over het winterklaar maken van je auto zullen aan bod komen. Zo wordt er ook dieper in gegaan op het belang van winterbanden in België en de extra veiligheid deze bieden op natte en winterse wegen, geen overbodige luxe als je op pad bent met je kroost.

“We vragen deelneemsters om met hun eigen auto te komen indien mogelijk,” zegt Stefaan Houtsaeger van Vulco. “Twee gelukkige deelneemsters maken namelijk kans op een volledige wintercheck-up van hun wagen ter plaatse!

Girl Power!
Naast het feit dat de dames uitgebreid zelf de handen uit de mouwen kunnen steken belooft deze workshop de dames ook een ‘kijkje onder de motorkap’ van een wel heel speciaal project: “The Sunshine Shooters” - een team van 2 vrouwen dat op 3 oktober aan de start zal staan van de Antwerpen-Banjul Challenge, een rally van 7000km voor een goed doel.

Tijdens hun presentatie kan iedereen een kijkje nemen: in, rond en onder de stoere 4x4: zo zie je met eigen ogen wat er allemaal komt kijken bij het voorbereiden van een auto voor een dergelijk avontuur.

De workshop staat dus onder het toeziend oog van een expertteam van mannen en vrouwen die gebeten zijn door het vak. Onder leiding van het professionele Vulco-personeel en de twee vrouwelijke avonturiers belooft de avond niet alleen nuttig, maar ook ronduit gezellig te worden. Voor een hapje en drankje wordt gezorgd en alle deelneemsters ontvangen na afloop ook een handig veiligheidspakket van Goodyear.

Plaatsen zijn beperkt!
Er zijn slechts 20 plaatsen beschikbaar voor deze workshop. Aanmelden kan via


Goodyear organise l’atelier “Prendre la route : préparation et conseils sécurité” – un atelier gratuit sur l’entretien automobile pour (et par !) des femmes

A l’attention particulière des femmes de Bruxelles et des environs, Goodyear organise, en collaboration avec Vulco Kortenberg, un atelier gratuit sur l’entretien automobile. Le Ladies Training intitulé “Prendre la route : préparation et conseils sécurité” aura lieu le jeudi 1er octobre 2009 de 19h.00 à 21h.30 chez Vulco, Leuvensesteenweg 62 à Kortenberg. La participation est gratuite.

Une approche axée sur la pratique !
A l’approche de l’hiver, Goodyear profite de l’occasion pour renseigner les dames sur les ‘principes de base’ de l’entretien automobile au cours de cet atelier de deux heures : comment vérifier le niveau d’huile, faire l’appoint de liquide lave-glaces, mesurer la pression des pneus et même changer un pneu crevé. L’atelier permettra aussi de donner un tas de tuyaux et de conseils utiles sur la préparation à l’hiver de votre voiture. Il mettra également en lumière l’importance des pneus d’hiver en Belgique et la sécurité supplémentaire qu’ils offrent sur des routes mouillées et hivernales, ce qui est loin d’être un luxe superflu lorsque toute la petite famille accompagne en voiture.

“Nous demandons aux participantes de venir avec leur voiture personnelle si possible,” signale Stefaan Houtsaeger de Vulco. Deux heureuses participantes auront notamment la chance de gagner un check-up d’hiver complet de leur véhicule !

Girl Power !
Les dames auront largement l’occasion de mettre elles-mêmes la main à la pâte. En outre, cet atelier leur permettra aussi de jeter un ‘coup d’œil sous le capot’ d’un projet très particulier : “The Sunshine Shooters” – une équipe de 2 femmes qui, le 3 octobre prochain, sera au départ du Anvers-Banjul Challenge, un rallye de 7000 km pour une bonne cause.

Au cours de leur présentation, tout le monde aura l’occasion de jeter un coup d’œil : dans, autour et sous la costaude 4x4. Vous découvrirez ainsi de vos propres yeux tout ce qui touche à la préparation d’une voiture destinée à une aventure de ce genre.

L’atelier est donc placé sous la supervision d’une équipe chevronnée d’hommes et de femmes qui sont passionnés par leur métier. Encadrée par le personnel professionnel de Vulco et les deux aventurières, la soirée promet non seulement d’être utile mais aussi très sympa. Un verre de l’amitié est prévu et à l’issue de l’atelier, les participantes ne repartiront pas les mains vides. Elles recevront en effet un kit pratique de sécurité de la part de Goodyear.

Les places sont limitées !
Les places pour cet atelier sont limitées au nombre de 20. Vous pouvez vous inscrire en contactant


The marshmellow test and what it teaches us

Watch kids illustrate what happens when one pre-activates the "goal conflict mechanism" in relation to eating when an eating opportunity presents itself. Next time you can't resist that donut, you know why: goal conflict!

Here you can find an interesting study conducted at the University of Leuven on " The Effect of Prior Food Temptation Actionability on Goal Activation and Consumption"

Oh, The Temptation from Steve V on Vimeo.


Why you need to learn to quieten the Lizard Brain - by Seth Godin

This video is not about marketing to women. It's about life, and reaching your full potential as human being. It's about why some people get stuck at just "thinking it" and others make it all the way to "doing it". Everyone should see this video.

With our Sunshine Shooters project, Inge and I are "shipping". In 23 days - on time and within budget! (watch the video to make sense of that one!)


Designing the Stop Sign (aka: how not to work with an agency)

Came across this funny video yesterday....!

Psssssst: whisper in my right ear!

If you want to persuade someone, it is best do whisper in their right ear, as this article suggests.

Both men and women (72%) prefer to use their right ear when listening to their conversation partner, and a majority of us also hold our mobile phones to our right ears.

What may at first seem rather strange begins to make sense on closer investigation:
Language is processed by the left-hand side of the brain, which receives its input from the right-hand ear. Therefor, showing a preference for using one's right-had hear to listen to a conversation isn't all that strange!


The $5 Trillion Opportunity.

The Boston Consulting Group recently surveyed more than 12,000 women in 22 countries about their needs, wants and expectations. For those still in doubt as to whether they should be taking women's expectations into account in their marketing strategies, the press release's sub-title may do the trick: "Emerging $5 Trillion Opportunity Exists for Companies that Systematically Understand and Respond to Women's Needs for Time, Value, Emotional Connections."

According to the BCG study companies are failing to meet the needs of women in five key areas:

1. poor product design and customization for women;
2. clumsy sales and marketing efforts;
3. an inability to address women's need for time-saving solutions;
4. an inability to provide a meaningful hook and differentiation, and
5. failure to develop a community around the brand.

Banking, cars, technology: it's still a man's world.
The study also points out that women still feel left out in the cold by many traditionally male industries such as banking & investment, automotive and technology.

o 49 percent of women said investment companies need to do a much better job of understanding and meeting their needs.
o 48 percent of women are disappointed with the auto industry and cars.
o 47 percent are disappointed with banks; 45 percent with life insurance; 42 percent with physicians and 39 percent with car insurance.

We've highlighted the fact that these industries still all too often ignore women in blogposts and newsletter before.

To those companies that are listening: opportunity knocks! Use your window of opportunity before others wake up!

Friday Fun: 5 Gold Lions at Cannes

I couldn't help but smile at this wonderful clip! Great tongue-in-cheek self promo from the Boondoggle team!


HELP! Get me out of here!

The Summer sales season represents a true shopping nightmare to many.

While some love the thrill-of-the-chase of a good bargain (as do I), the drawbacks of the shopping experience are just too great for others to even bother. Crowded stores, the frenzied tug-of-wars over flimsy summer tops, long cues at the fitting rooms and check-out counters....It is a nightmare many are quite willing to skip!

I am currently writing our next newsletter, which is about enhancing the in-store shopping experience for women. Over the past few days I have spent quite some time thinking about what I call "fitting room politics": how our experience in the store - and especially in the fitting rooms - can make or break a sale.

Here are my top 3 fitting room "peeves":

1. Uncleaned floors - Nr 1 killer of a positive impression of a brand! All that shiny marble goes to waste when the floors are littered with dust, hairs and clothing fluff! The worst? 7 out of 10 stores have fitting rooms that are not clean!

2. Lazy sales personnel. The kind that expects you to return the items you've just tried on to the correct shelves in the stores (a favorite in Belgium stores!) instead of doing so for you (with a smile!).

3. Fitting room basics: a well-closing curtain or door, a few hooks, a stool (these days often considered a luxury, it seems), flattering lighting.

Getting it right in the fitting room is of the utmost importance: it is probably the ONLY place in which your customer thinks clearly about her purchase. The more comfortable she is here, the more likely she is to buy!

Five creative ways to enhance her fitting room experience:
Food for thought: if your customer saw only the fitting room, would she know what store she is in?

Besides the basics such as natural lighting, clean floors, enough hooks, a stool (yes please!) or a scarf to protect garments, there are several other creative ways in which to enhance the impression your brand will leave on her in the fitting rooms.

1. Brand it! Use the space to reinforce your brand. Repeat brand colors in the curtain, color of the walls. And add your logo!

2. Surprise them! Beautiful, crazy or cute clothes hooks and an eye-catching stool can change the entire look-and-feel of a fitting room. And how about filling those bare white walls with life-size posters of your latest collection?

3. Sooth the senses! A comfortable temperature (20 - 23 degrees), appropriate music (not too loud!), an in-store fragrance machine...

4. Guidance: size charts or that season's color combination charts in fitting rooms are no luxury. These small gestures make your customer feel important and more relaxed!

5. The "pièce de résistance"? A buzzer for staff assistance!
For while most women don't like being trailed by sales staff through a store, they do appreciate some help with getting another size or color when they're in the fitting room. And that's where they'll be making their decision, so isn't it just then that we want to make the experience as pleasant as possible?

And last, but certainly not least: take care of her shopping companions. A seating area with some comfortable chairs, a few magazines and a bowl of sweets is a small investment that will make her feel less rushed when she shops.


The death of a blogger and other interesting topics.

Starting tomorrow, I'm off to seek a little bit of sunshine and a lot of rest. To launch into the 2-week radio silence, I thought I'd leave you with some interesting things I discovered in cyberspace this week.

Death of a Blogger.
There's a PR stunt targeting some of America's top bloggers with a rather heart-stopping message: their own death announcement. This blogger received a mysterious "message in a bottle", which leads to a site called "Frenzied Waters", which isn't any less spooky.

The answer as to "Who did it" (this PR stunt), still has not been revealed. Bloggers receive progressive clues until they solve the mystery. To be continued...

The Generation M Manifesto.
A "food for thought" manifesto that starts "Dear Old People" posted on Harvard Business Online.

Girl Geek Go Green
A blogpost on Girl Geek Chic about a nifty little device that helps you save energy on your PC. I wonder if this is available in Belgium.
Note to companies: isn't this a great little gadget to hand out to prospects & customers at your next exhibition?

That's it for now folks!

We'll be back on August 3rd! In the mean time I wish you a summer of safe travels, lots of belly-aching laughter, peaceful sleep and healthy thoughts!



Why we love our hairdresser: customer loyalty from a woman's perspective.

There's a commonly held theory in marketing land that says women are more loyal as customers than men are. (It's one of the reasons many companies have discovered women as a lucrative target audience.) But here's the thing: it's not exactly true.

A recent study by The Journal of Marketing points out that there are significant differences in the type of loyalty men and women display toward service providers. Women are more loyal to individuals (a specific hairdresser, doctor or salesperson), while men's loyalty is toward group-like entities, such as teams, companies or organizations.

These findings support the principles of gender psychology, which hold that women see themselves as part of an interconnected web of specific individuals and thus also place greater importance on individual relationships. Men, on the other hand, view themselves as part of groups and larger societal networks.

So in actual fact, women are not naturally inclined to be loyal to groups, organizations and "group-like structures" such as brands. It does confirm what we tell our clients: it is harder to get a woman to become a loyal customer, but once you have her (and if you foster that relationship in the correct ways), she is more likely to remain loyal.

The implications for marketers, as author Valentyna points out, are:

1. Companies with a large share of female customers should focus marketing and CRM strategies on personal relationships with individual employees. (For brands such as Weight Watchers, keeping coaches happy will ensure that members keep coming back. Loose a coach, you'll most likely loose quite a few members too, for as Valentyna points out: "Female customers should be more likely than male customers to defect and follow an individual employee...")

2. For brands that target mostly men, the study advocates focusing on strategies stressing group themes.

So for those that have ever wondered why women are prepared to travel half a world to get to their favorite hairdresser, there's your answer!


Stanley ensures DIY goes female-friendly in Belgium

The Muse Communication team is proud to launch for Stanley Works, one of the world's leading tool brands.

With this project, Stanley brings together all the necessary information to complete DIY projects in and around the house in one clear, project-focused website. Supported by three real-life experts - an architect, an interior designer and a landscape architect, the site approaches DIY from lifestyle perspective that also appeals to women. Unlike other DIY sites and tool manufacturers that often focus on a products and technologies, with messages centering on strength, power, performance and speed , Stanley's new site focus on the projects, the DIY-er and her lifestyle.

The site does not take a "for-women-only" approach. Instead, it aims to make DIY accessible for everyone.

Over the coming months, Stanley will also be hosting a range of DIY workshops. More info will follow soon.

The dutch press release below:

Stanley lanceert – De site voor klussende vrouwen (en hun mannen!).

Mechelen, 1 juli 2009. Stanley, een van ‘s werelds meest bekende gereedschapsmerken, lanceert vandaag Met de nieuwe site, steunt Stanley de steeds groeiende groep gedreven vrouwelijke doe-het-zelvers die nood hebben aan een duidelijke, overzichtelijke informatiebron rond klussen in en om het huis. De site biedt een praktische gids met concrete antwoorden op veelgestelde vragen, handige stap-voor-stap projectfiches alsook tips, advies en weetjes van verschillende experten. Naast de lancering van de site zal Stanley deze zomer ook een reeks “doe-het-zelf” workshops, gericht op vrouwen, organiseren.

Vrouwen willen klussen.
Het is bewezen: steeds meer vrouwen duiken enthousiast in doe-het-zelf projecten in en rond het huis. Recent onderzoek wijst uit dat vrouwen tot 90 procent van alle bouwgerelateerde aankoopbeslissingen maken of beïnvloeden, terwijl onderzoek in de doe-het-zelfsector toont dat bijna 50 procent van alle doe-het-zelfmateriaal wordt aangekocht door een vrouw. De studie toont ook aan dat vrouwen tussen de 18 en 35 jaar even vaak klussen als mannen!

Sabine Clappaert van Muse Communication, het marketing- en communicatieadvies bureau dat zich specialiseert in ‘smart marketing to women’ zegt: “De afgelopen maanden hebben we nauw samen gewerkt met de Benelux marketing team van Stanley om het nodige onderzoek te doen en de juiste strategie en aanpak te ontwikkelen om deze doelgroep op de correcte manier te benaderen. Ons doel is duidelijk: Stanley synoniem maken met ‘doe-het-zelf – ook voor vrouwen’ in de Benelux markt.”

“Onderzoek heeft aangetoond dat vrouwen klussen uit een ander perspectief benaderen dan mannen, vandaar ook dat we een aangepaste aanpak voor deze doelgroep hebben ontwikkeld” zegt Geert Van de Vondel, Marketing Manager bij Stanley. “Vrouwen benaderen klussen veel eerder vanuit het perspectief dat het zal bijdragen tot het comfort en woonplezier van de woning, terwijl mannen klussen om concrete meerwaarde te geven aan de woning.” Een leuke anekdote hieromtrent vind men in het voorbeeld van een koppel dat een keuken gaat moderniseren. De vrouw denkt veeleerder “Hoe kan ik deze ruimte meer geschikt maken voor het koken en er toch voor zorgen dat de kinderen genoeg ruimte hebben om hun huiswerk te doen terwijl ik zorg voor het avondeten?” De man daarentegen, vervolgt Van de Vondel, denkt vanuit functionaliteit: “De wasbak is geroest en moet dringend worden vervangen.”

“Ook hebben we tijdens onderzoek gemerkt dat er bij vrouwen een reële nood bestaat aan informatie,” zegt Van de Vondel. “Onderschat ze niet: vrouwen zijn ambitieuze doe-het-zelvers…ze zullen vaak fysiek zware klussen – behangen, het verbouwen van een badkamer of het leggen van laminaat – aangaan. En daarvoor hebben ze informatie nodig. Handige, duidelijk uiteengezette “how to” stappenplannen die hun daarin begeleiden. En dat is net wat we met ons initiatief – zowel de website als de workshops – willen bereiken.”

Alle informatie onder een dak!
In tegenstelling tot veel andere doe-het-zelf sites legt de focus niet op gereedschap en de kenmerken of gebruiksaanwijzingen ervan, maar eerder op de klus en hoe men deze stap-voor-stap veilig en efficient kan klaren. streeft ernaar om alle nuttige informatie rond doe-het-zelf onder een dak te verzamelen. Alles komt aan bod: van veiligheid, de nuttigste tools in elke toolbox, stap-voor-stap projectfiches, materiaalkeuzes en gereedschappen, tips en weetjes van de experten en links naar nuttige en inspirerende sites.

“Als ik het kan, kan jij het ook!” Kluscursussen voor vrouwen.
Naast de lancering van de gloednieuwe website zal Stanley ook een reeks kluscursussen voor vrouwen aanbieden.

Klussen tijdens de zomervakantie: zaterdag 22 Augustus 2009
De eerste kluscursus vindt plaats op zaterdag 22 Augustus in Antwerpen. “Deze eerste cursus is gericht op beginnende klussers,” zegt Van de Vondel. “In deze cursus kijken we naar de verschillende types handgereedschap en powertools, geven we een inleiding tot elektriciteit en loodgieterij. Elk van de 3 workshops bevat ook een element praktijk: een stekker vervangen, het maken van een verlengdraad, (de)monteren van een kraan, enzovoort. Zo zullen alle deelnemers ook effectief nieuwe klussen kunnen als ze naar huis gaan!”

Plaatsen zijn beperkt! Meer weten over onze cursussen, surf dan snel naar en schrijf u in!

Zaterdag 22 augustus 2009 (9u – 12u): Klussen voor beginners
Zaterdag 7 november 2009 (9u – 12u): Klussen met kids

Over Stanley
Ontstaan in 1843 in het Amerikaanse Connecticut is Stanley vandaag zondermeer de meest volledige aanbieder op wereldvlak van kwalitatief hoogstaande handgereedschappen, zowel voor de professionele gebruiker als voor de doe-het-zelver. Dankzij een dynamische expansiepolitiek is Stanley met zijn vestigingen en productiesites op alle continenten aanwezig: 54 in Noord-Amerika, 5 in Centraal-Amerika, 7 in Zuid-Amerika, 37 in Europa, 2 in het Midden-Oosten en 14 in Zuidoost-Azië. De producten van Stanley worden vandaag in meer dan 130 landen verdeeld. De wereldwijde hoofdzetel van Stanley Works is nog steeds gevestigd in New Britain, Connecticut, US, terwijl de Europese hoofdzetel zich in Mechelen, Belgie, bevindt. Stanley stelt wereldwijd 15.000 mensen te werk, commercialiseert 50.000 producten en realiseert een wereldwijde omzet van 4,5 miljard dollar. Stanley’s passie voor kwaliteit verklaart waarom 70% van alle in Europa verkochte handgereedschappen ook nog steeds in Europa geproduceerd worden.

Over Muse Communication
Muse Communication is een marketing- en communicatie adviesbureau gespecialiseert in ‘smart marketing to women’. Sinds 2006 is Muse Communication instrumentaal in het ontwikkelen van vrouwvriendelijke communicatie campagnes voor merken in verschillende sectoren, waaronder Goodyear, Campina, Weight Watchers, Bauknecht, CSC, en meer.


Thunderstorms in marketing-to-women land

We're not having an awfully good week in marketing-to-women land.

First there was L'Oreal, which was this week found guilty of racial discrimination by a French court over its all-white recruitment policy for its shampoo sales teams. In 2000, the company briefed its recruitment agency to find "BBR" (an acronym for the colours of the French flag and widely known to signify a person of white, French descent) women sized between 8 and 12. And this comes from the company that last year was accused of whitening Beyonce Knowles' skin in an ad. Indeed: because you're not worth it.

And then....then ladies and gentlemen, there's the Barcardi "Ugly Girlfriend" campaign brought to you this summer compliments of McCann Digital in Tel Aviv. Of course, by the time you read this, the company/agency has already taken the microsite of the campaign offline. Things go quickly these days. However, thanks to Copyranter, I've been able to get a few campaign visuals and some copy used in the campaign.

Bacardi, through Tel Aviv ad agency McCann Digital, launched a promotional mini-site (in English and Hebrew) for their fruit-flavored Breezer drinks with four "ugly girlfriends" for you to choose from, depending on the activity. Upgrade your trips to the beach with Sally." She's "97 kilograms of femininity, strength, and double chins." There's also Lucy, who's "rubbing thighs...and drooping breasts will turn any trip to the mall into an unforgettable experience."

As marketer the number of times presumably educated marketing people would have had the opportunity to pull the plug on this campaign along the chain of command, yet somehow didn't, doesn't cease to amaze me. In fact, it reminds me of this BMW ad.

I'm sure this campaign was made with the best of intentions. But laughing at someone else is always much easier than laughing at yourself, isn't it? And that's were this campaign goes wrong. This is school-bully humor. Humor to hurt and belittle people around you to make yourself feel better.

And really, I had hoped that we'd moved beyond that kind of humor to sell products. And even if Barcardi's target audience may still be trying to shake off their high school sense of humor, surely we shouldn't be encouraging it?


Muse newsletter: marketing technology to women.

Marketing technology to women is one of my favorite topics!

In this month's newsletter, we take a closer look at what works and what doesn't!

Click here to read!


Why social media matters - so much!

The control of products, services and advertising is increasingly shifting to the consumer. Gone are the days of creating an award-winning creative ad and placing it in all the right places. Gone are the days of you telling the consumer what they need. They are telling you. Just ask Motrin or Dell(a).

According to a Forresters research report released recently, "The distinction between traditional and innovative marketing techniques will become significantly more pronounced as the socially driven online communities continue to gain momentum".

...And to quote the CEO of one of Belgium's most aggressively innovative digital TV stations: "The 30" TVC has no future. We have to be realistic and face the fact that it will disappear within the next ten years."

Those are some disruptive theories. But I firmly agree. Marketing as we know it is dead.
I've blogged about it in the post "The death of PR", and will go a step further: social media IS the new PR - especially when marketing to female consumers.

Brands that want to market their products/services to women will need to integrate social media in their marketing strategy.

Why do I place so much emphasis on social media in marketing to women?
Because women treat information gathering as a textured and interactive process – one that includes gathering AND exchanging information – both online and offline - with friends and peers and support networks.
Women also re-evaluate their selection criteria throughout the information gathering process. While men tend to identify a few key selection criteria and then buy a product that matches those criteria to offer them a “good solution”, women will keep adding and amending their criteria - listening to opinions and advice, evaluating your product offering against a complex, nuanced set of criteria - and shop until they find a product that offers “the perfect solution”.

Social media will continue to affect and change the way in which consumers interact, with brands and with each other.

Below the future of social web, as detailed in a research report released by Forresters a few weeks ago.

The Five Eras of the Social Web:
1) Era of Social Relationships: People connect to others and share
2) Era of Social Functionality: Social networks become like operating system
3) Era of Social Colonization: Every experience can now be social
4) Era of Social Context: Personalized and accurate content
5) Era of Social Commerce: Communities define future products and services

Astute marketers will take note and educate themselves now on social media and how it impacts their business and their customer - ahead of the pack.

Read more here


A woman's day in brands

This is so great, I just had to take time out to post it!

Also check out "A man's day in brands"

keychain with GPS. Sound silly? Think again...

When I first read about the keychain with GPS early this morning, I thought "nope...".But that's because I thought about it as answer to the question "where did I park my car?", which made me feel rather stupid.

But the more I thought about it, I realized that it could indeed be very, very handy little gadget.
On a city trip to Prague, for example, as one wanders through unfamiliar streets and neighborhoods and you need to get back to your hotel. Lock in "hotel" as starting point and when needed, it will navigate you back to that point. Or (for the boys) use it to find your tent between a million others at Werchter this year.

The gadget also stores up to 3 locations so you can enter the starting point together with two more on-the-way locations, in effect planning your route back. The gps also has a display with directional arrow, which always points out the general direction you should head in. And, both direction and distance counts down as you move closer to your saved location and counts up as you move farther away.

Barcelona, London, New York, Singapore here I come! With its worldwide range, this little gadget really is a traveler's dream!

• Tracks up to 32 satellites within 60 seconds.
• Tracking distance up to 9999 miles.
• Store up to 3 locations
• Rechargeable battery USB connection at home, computer, or in your car.
• Highly sensitive GPS receiver provides faster acquisition times and improved tracking capabilities.
• Built in electronic compass that provides bearing information while you’re standing still, always pointing you in the general direction.
• Display directional arrow, direction and distance counts down as you move closer to your saved location and counts up as you move farther away.
• No service fees.
• Global range.
• Smallest personal GPS system that fits on a keychain.


"It's pretty ugly" - how gender drives our perception of design

Working in marketing and communication for over 10 years now, I can confirm that design is indeed one of the most subjective elements of marketing. And exactly because it's so subjective, its also the most difficult element to discuss with a client, let alone defend rationally if they've decided they don't like it.

How do you defend a design, unless you have facts to back it up?
The lack of research on the effects of gender on design made that one of the biggest stumbling blocks, and we had to rely on arguments such as "from experience" and "as a woman I can tell you that...".

But that's about to change with this book "Gender, Design and Marketing: how gender drives our perception of design and marketing" by Gloria Moss.

In the book, Gloria explores gender preferences in drawing, painting, graphics and web design.
It's a book I'll certainly be buying, and one I'll advise all my clients (from R&D teams to marketing) to buy too!

Here are a few very interesting findings:
- We are drawn to images of people of our own gender
- Women prefer designs with round shapes and detailed surfaces, men prefer linear shapes and plain surfaces.
- Women draw faces in a full frontal position, men draw faces in profile.
- Women prefer the use of more colour, especially bright colours.
- When it comes to website design, men intuitively preferred sites designed by men, and women sites designed by women. (And considering the fact that a whopping 78% of all female orientated beauty sites are designed by men, this may mean that these sites are probably performing below par)

But here's the really interesting bit that should make every brand about to actively engage with its female consumers sit up and take note:

Research points to the fact that women are less accepting of male design aesthetics than men are of female design aesthetics.
And that's not only the case in marketing, but also in product design

"Although both men and women assign higher scores to own-sex designs compared to opposite-sex designs, men interestingly ascribed higher scores to female-designed products than the women do to male-designed products and this is further evidence of the fact that, given a choice, men have a greater tolerance of the female design aesthetic than women do of the equivalent male aesthetic."

I'm off to order it right now.


Proud to be a woman!

Please sit down before you read any further.

See the curvy girl above? She was in the May issue of Harper's Bazaar. Her full size 12 (gasp!) figure on page after page for all to see. (Her name is Crystal Renn, by the way)

Isn't she sexy? I can easily just refer you through to Harper's website, but I like the pics so much, I'll post them here too!

Wouldn't it be great if we saw girls like her more often in our fashion magazines?

Seeing how great she looks makes me feel beautiful and proud to be a woman!

Kudoz to Harper's Bazaar Australia!


Much ado about what women want - online.

There's much ado about marketing to women online at the moment.
Articles on what women do (and don't do) online, what's lacking and who's being left out. It seems there is still quite a way to go before we agree we have it figured out.

The article "Men are from Facebook, women are from Twitter", published on talks about the different ways in which men and women use the internet. Reading it left me disappointed - some very stereotypical general top-level findings that boil down to "a little bit of this, a little bit of that and a lot of nothing".

Then there was this article about Women over 50 using the internet as primary news source (yup, my mom included!)

The article that raises the most interesting point is this one, by Wall Street Journal columnist Christina Binkley. In it Binkley asks:
"Are online marketers so youth-conscious -- because it feels right -- that they're ignoring lucrative markets just when they're most needed? The Internet is neither new nor young. The fastest-growing segment of Facebook users is women over 55, according to the Tracking Facebook blog. And the underlying assumption that young people are still the Web's most fertile market doesn't hold up to scrutiny."

Food for thought this week!


Forbidden images

A friend just posted a movie called "Forbidden Images" on Facebook. Not quite knowing what to expect, I clicked "play" and watched closely as the seconds unfolded flickeringly across my screen. Over the next 4 minutes I saw image upon image celebrating women, their exuberant playfulness, their femininity and their sensuality. The images are so hauntingly beautiful it is hard to believe they were once banned...

(This short film was made for the 72-hour Film Festival in Frederick, Maryland (2007). All of the clips used in this film came from a reel of 35mm nitrate, found in an old theater somewhere in Pennsylvania.)


Sex sells chocolate, right?

This launch campaign for "Fling" the new chocolate bar from Mars is raising quite a storm in cyberspace right now.

Everything about this product and it's launch is about sex. And sex sells, right?
The products name: "Fling" (as in "I feel like having a fling with a chocolate bar")
The description of the product: "chocolate fingers"
A tagline that invites you to "Pleasure yourself"
...And then there's the fact that the product's website seems to lead to....a porn site according to this article

Says Lisa Johnson, co-author of Don't Think Pink: "The language of it has so much sexual innuendo, you could pack it into a trashy novel." Johnson says marketers are taking the connection that women often make between chocolate and sensuality too literally. "There are other things you can do that can hit this note without banging on it."

As those of you who know me can attest to, I'm no prude, but all this talk of fingers and pleasuring in relation to a stupid chocolate bar does feel a bit weird. Not only does it shout "trying too hard", it also feels pushy and forced. There's certainly nothing about the product's name, packaging or positioning that makes me remotely want chocolate. And as a blogger commented "that packaging looks to me like a feminine hygiene product. Whoa, pink overload!"

Now that you mention it....


Marketing to women: getting it wrong.

It is still amazing to see how many brands get it wrong in their effort to attract female consumers. I've blogged about Philip's USB-stick necklace before, and now Dell is creating a storm with the launch of their site aimed at women, called "Della".

I'm not sure which consultancy helped Dell develop the strategy for this project (not to mention the look & feel or content of the site), but marketing-to-women wasn't one of their strengths. One of the comments on the "Tech tips" page says it all:

"Does anyone else find that these so called "tech tips" are incredibly simplistic? ... This is a load of fluff that only serves to provide insight into how Dell perceives my demographic. Essentially, we women will buy anything if it comes in pink and fits in our purse. Come on Dell! Treat us like intelligent consumers and not like trained monkeys."

Here are my suggestions to Dell in order to reach their female consumer effectively:

1. Marketing to women doesn't mean marketing to all women.
Before you start, make sure you understand who the women are that buy your product. Who are they? What are their purchase motivators? How does your product integrate in their lives?

2. Gender exclusivity doesn't work.
Women don't demand a separate, overtly female-focused website (that speaks to them in a condescending manner!). Like any consumer, they want ease-of-use, relevant information and respect.

3. Don't stereotype.
And certainly don't 'dumb-down' your message because you think women won't understand. "5 Ways to use a laptop" is an insulting way to speak to any customer, let alone the over-simplified tips that are offered in this section. There's more to women than planning a vacation or going shopping.

My advice? Take the site offline and start all over again. There's no saving this sinking ship.

And as Lydia Sung says: Now if you'll excuse me, I need to give my Asus Eee PC a well-deserved hug.


Automotive marketing to women

Here's an interesting statistic: it takes men an average of 13 weeks to buy a new car. It takes women on average 18,5 weeks. This longer decision-making cycle highlights the fact that women have a more complex decision-making process that has her gather more information and incorporates many more selection criteria than men do. USA research shows that women today influence more than 85% of all auto, tire and service buying purchases, and yet 74% of those surveyed feel misunderstood by automotive and tire marketers. One wonders why most automotive brands still don't make a bigger effort to understand and woo their female customers.

Show me her car and I will tell you who she is.
In a recent article on Tire Review, Insight Farms shared some interesting research about how women use and feel about their cars. "Women ‘wear’ their cars. The exterior is the face we show others. The interior is our ‘authentic self.’ The front seat is our workspace. The back seat is the kids area and garbage bag. The trunk is ‘where things go to die.’"

Other sound bites on marketing to women:
• Women are looking for substance – you have to stand for something. Seventy-eight percent of women say leading companies are driven by values.

• "Edgy," "excess," "too much fun" and "living life large" are being replaced by "giving back." Women want to know what you stand for.

• Instead of asking "do I want it?" she's asking "do I need it?" In the current climate, women are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. Women right now are looking for value, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are looking for cheap.

• A woman's buying process is longer. Good enough isn't good enough – she's looking for the perfect answer.

• She is more expensive to acquire, but cheaper to keep. Because she's already invested more time in her decision, she's more confident in that decision. There's a higher psychological cost if she walks away.

• If she complains and you handle the complaint and satisfy her, she's even MORE likely to recommend you than if she had a good experience. Make it easy for her to complain. She is trying to communicate with you and solve the problem with you.

Good to know: women share a negative experience with a brand or product with an average of 23 people. A positive experience is shared with an average of 9 people (vs only 3 for men!).


Cards of Change

I came across the initiative "Cards of Change" via Clo's blog. I simply LOVE the idea behind the Cards of Change concept ( Its mission is to collect as many business cards and stories of positive change of people who have recently been laid off and connect them with new opportunities from potential employers, business partners and people who make the effort to look on the bright side of life).

I liked it so much that I decided to upload my own business card too. Not because I've been laid off but because I wanted to show everyone who is being laid off that it is possible to make it out there on your own. And because I want to be a part of a positive, empowering initiative and to give a positive message during a difficult time.

No, it's not easy out there at the moment - for no-one. But there is a HUGE difference between difficult and impossible. And that's the message I wanted to share: it's not impossible!

This is just such a creative, empowering initiative (with great viral possibilities!). No doubt it won't be the last we will hear of it!

The Girl Effect

A friend of mine, who knows that I'm taking part in a rally through northern Africa to raise money for an organization that helps women to start their own businesses, sent me this video last night. It's by the Nike Foundation and is called "The Girl Effect".

Nike has made a lot of mistakes and done a lot of wrong (like most companies)...What's important is that they are doing something about it. They're making amends. Their leading by example. They're investing time, energy, resources and money. Every little bit helps, so let's give them credit for that.


In Brands We Trust (And the winners are....)

I couldn't help smiling at the results of the Readers Digest "Trusted Brand 2009" results for Belgium when I saw them today.

Have a look who's the leading in the "Banking/Building Society" category. Fortis. Admittedly, the field work for this survey was done in August 2008, so things have changed a tad since then.

When it comes to marketing-to-women it is interesting to note that Nivea (and not Dove!) is the big winner throughout Europe and the most trusted cosmetic brand amongst Belgian consumers. Nivea has been very actively working on promoting the brand and engaging with its prospective consumers - both male and female over the past few months. (they clearly understand that if you can first convince the woman, it is then much easier to get the men along too!). You can see some of the activities they've done in Belgium recently on my friend Caroline's social media blog here.

Although there is no overall winner there are a few brands that rise above the rest across multiple countries.

The most nominated brands across the common categories are:

􏰀 NOKIA - For the 9th consecutive year Nokia is the most “Trusted Brand” of mobile phone handset in every country – no
change since the study was first published in 2001.

􏰀 NIVEA - continues to be the brand of skin care that most people trust (winner in 16 out of 16 countries).

􏰀 VISA - Similarly there is no change to the line up of trusted brands in the category of credit card. In 14 out of 16 countries Visa retained the pole position.

􏰀 CANON - remains the trusted brand of camera in 13 countries.

􏰀 KELLOGG'S - is the trusted brand of breakfast cereal in 10 Western European countries and Nestlé predominates in 4/5 of the CEER countries + Portuga.

About the Trusted Brands Survey:
The "Trusted Brands" is an annual consumer survey, involving over 23,000 people in 16 European countries. The survey’s primary objective is to find out which brands Europeans trust the most in a range of consumer product categories.

The reports per country can be found here.


Co-creation: now that's a great idea!

Co-creation - the process during which a company involves an external group of people in (a part of) the innovation process of a product or service - gets its first public event!

Held on June 24th in The Netherlands, the first ever Co-creation event is under the auspice of RedesignMe - "the first platform where communities and companies collaborate on (new) products and services".

As marketeers, we all too often stay in our 'gilded corporate cages', instead of actively involving our clients, prospective clients or other relevant stakeholders in the development of products or services. While I worked at Barco Media & Entertainment as marketing manager, we did so on a few occasions (in 2004! imagine!) so I got to see the benefits of involving users of your product first-hand during the R&D process. Seeing the proactive participation of users, the free exchange of ideas, the 'free' advice and ultimately the results of these collaborations, I am a firm believer in the theory that a product developed with direct input from its consumer is a better one than the product developed in the vacuum of our labs.


Sins and Virtues at BGGD

I attended another great edition of Brussels Geek Girl Dinner last night!
Taking time out of our busy daily lives to meet up with friends & likeminded souls to talk, discuss and be inspired, BGGD should be a compulsary 'destress' moment for all modern girls!

The theme of this edition was "Sin" (and therefore by association also "Virtues") - topics close to my heart as they often come to play in the way we as women view ourselves.

Murielle Scherre of La Fille D'O spoke freely with the 100 attending ladies about sin, virtue and everything in between. As always, she pointed out that as women we should decide for ourselves whether the so-called sins really are sins, and the virtues really virtues before feeling guilty about too many things we think or do. She also pointed out that women should not put themselves in either of the two camps of "sinner" or "saint". Instead they should be comfortable with both facets - and more - within themselves. I couldn't agree more!

The theme of sin continued throughout the night with sponsorship by MariaBingo - an online gaming site, as well as more virtuous sins in the form of low-fat Belvita cookies (yummy-yummy).

With many of my female friends actively thinking about or making a living from things related to 'sin', I will blog more on the topic soon.....


Friday fun: Because I like to ride my bike in my bikini

Just came across this great blog and a post I could resist taking over for the Muse blog.


Female consumers: the cure for recession blues?

The past few months have been busy, to say the least. We're working on an exciting new project for a major international DIY brand, and we're in the midst of a PR campaign for Milner, not to mention other projects with which we're in full preparation. And between all the work, there are the presentations I'll be giving at VEPEC tomorrow night and JUMP on Thursday. I can confirm what this article in The Economist highlights: it seems to be a true marketing-to-women explosion out there.

It's funny that it took a recession to get business to start taking its female consumers more seriously. And its interesting to see who's seeing this as a 'quick fix' opportunity and who's really committed to their female consumers for the long run. Of course I have to mention Nike, who have done great work marketing to women for years, and again do so with the "Here I am" campaign, which features great ads with slogans such as "My butt is Big" and the "I have Thunder Thighs".

But then there's also McDonalds who's suddenly sponsoring New York Fashion Week. There's a major disconnect between brand perception and the PR tool (sponsoring a fashion week that showcases skeletal models...) in my opinion. Unfortunately for McDonalds, this effort goes against one of the fundamentals of smart marketing to women: be real. Or as one of Belgium's top female bloggers, Clo says: "being who you really are instead of trying to be something or someone you are not."

And then there's Porsche, which launched a 4x4 (as did Jeep with its Compass) designed 'for women'.
As the Economist article states, this constitutes "gender bending", which is not always to the benefit of the brand. Au contraire, mostly it will work against the brand. And I'd like to stress here that "gender bending" is NOT the same as smart marketing to women. Designing a product specifically for women is often not a good idea. Women never asked for a 4x4 "for women" (it comes across a little condescending to if women can't drive 'normal' SUVs). What's the answer then, you may wonder? Porsche and Jeep should have involved women during the design & development process of their original SUVs. If manufacturers (of all kinds of products) involve women throughout the entire NPI process - from R&D through design to marketing, they will get a balanced mix of input, which will ultimate lead to a product that ALSO satisfies the needs of female consumers, and that's what smart marketing to women is all about.

Which leads us to the question: what's the future of smart marketing (to everyone)? This article presents an answer which at first may seem a little scary, but which also presents an enormous opportunity..

"I predict female consumers will take on an increasing role with brands and businesses-the next women's liberation movement when women will co-manage brands with the official brand manager, business owner or marketing director. This partnership will exist with brands that dare to let go and share the steering wheel with consumers."

A multitude of consumers who willingly and on their own initiative provide feedback, contribute ideas, give suggestions? That's like employing an entire new marketing department! One that has extensive experience with your product to boot! Wow! Now if that isn't food for thought for all marketers...!


Special offer: Attend Forum JUMP for just 50€!

The biggest event in Belgium dedicated to Women’s careers.
JUMP offers a wide range of tools to reinforce Women’s empowerment and position in the economy by making best use of all skills that they have to offer.

Join the event and a community of outstanding women and men, with whom you will live- out the potential you may not even have known you had. Learn how you can increase your organisation’s performance and above all how women in general can renew the economy. JUMP will give you all the confidence and energy boost to make things happen for you.

When? 23 April 2009 from 09:00 - 18:30
Where? Bozar, Brussels
The program?

Muse Communication proudly presents the marketing-to-women workshop "Why women own 19 pairs of shoes" at JUMP!

The first 10 people to email me can attend the event for only 50€ instead of 350€!


Women win at money matters

A recent survey confirms what many have always suspected: women are better at handling money than men are.

The survey, conducted in December by Reuters, polled 4,500 women in 12 countries (Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Africa, Britain, and the United States).

Extensive surveys such as this can help brands understand women's attitudes and behaviors toward money (banks are you taking note?), which in turn could help them tailor products & services to her needs and who knows: create a loyal, lifelong customer?

The survey finds that that women are less likely to get into debt and strive harder to become financially independent than men.
More than 40% of female respondents also use a part of their monthly income to pay off credit card debts. 70% also agree with the statement that having more than one credit card could lead to financial debt, which clearly highlights women's higher awareness of possibly creating debts without noticing.

And while nearly half of the women surveyed admit to being bigger spenders than men, they also believe they are more responsible when it comes to money matters than men are. (The survey also showed that just over half of all respondents of both genders said women are more responsible with money than men!)

What should financial institutions be doing?

1. RESEARCH. Banks & other financial institutions (insurance brokers, investment consultants) need to investigate the different attitudes and behavior drivers of both genders toward money matters. Not doing so may mean they are (unknowingly) creating frustrated, fickle customers, which is already clearly illustrated in the rather shocking statistic that 1 in 3 women change financial institutions after the death of their partner!
2. REFLECT. Review existing business models, organizational structures and product portfolios. Bet you all 3 are outdated and based on the rules of the "old economy". Start from the question: what does our customer want? (not: what can we offer our customer?)
3. ADAPT. Build flexible, nimble organizations that fit in with the emerging new world order and can respond to changing values and needs quickly and effectively. The days of banks dictating what can and can't be are over. Don't believe me? Watch your customer walk...

The survey may focus "only" on gender differences, but let it also present an opportunity for financial institutions to review the way in which they go forward in these changing times.


Segments, Shmegments

Audience segmentation. It's one of the "Big Five" I often (ok, always) need to clarify when speaking of marketing-to-women.
I always need to explain that traditional segmentation methods are very linear, not to mention based on very outdated stereotypes and definitions. Audience segments such as 28-35, A-B, 1-4 have become grossly outdated in their ability to correctly define an audience. And certainly women can no longer be pushed into such irrelevant categories.

And then I read this earlier today: "Women aren’t well behaved and they don’t obey when you tell them to stay in their little boxes." Ah, now that made me smile!

It's an excerpt from an article called "Segments, Shmegments" by the team of Just Ask A Woman.

The article goes on to say "If you say she is a Beauty Obsessive, is she allowed to be a shlump on Sundays? If she falls into the segment of being Financially Negligent and she pays her taxes on time will she get the boot? What about Jane, the overstressed working mother? Does she mess up the numbers when she has a relaxing day?

This is not to say that segmentation is misguided overall but I do wish that marketers would keep in mind that women can fall into multiple segments all at once and while that doesn’t make forecasting easier it is the truth. Personally I’d like to see segmentation that allows for more fluidity and flexibility."

As woman, consumer AND marketer, I've been experiencing the disconnect between traditional segmentation and the REAL consumer for years. Indeed: the female consumer is not a static entity that fits neatly into one specific box. As Jen illustrates so well in her article, we can put all the cutesy, creative labels we want on our female consumer, if we don't consider the fact that she is a multidimensional being that will exhibit traits of various 'categories' at different times, we won't understand her, or her thinking or her behavior well enough to reap the long-term benefits of our psycho analysis.

A Beauty Obsessive (still in pyjamas), a Controlling Perfectionist (about to embark on a 3-week rally through Africa) and a Conflict Averse Creative (who just told the world's biggest agency exactly what she thought of them).



WomensLab - new creative collaboration platform launches

It's a dream I've had for many years: to get women together to the benefit of the individual and the group and together make a difference to the world we live in. It's a dream many told me is not realistic, too 'grand', too time-intensive etc etc etc. A million and one reasons not to do it.

And yet....almost 3 years later, it has become a reality! WomensLab is born!

WomensLab is a collaboration with Jan van Mol of AddictLab, a global creative think tank that already counts over 4.000 creatives and aims to generate innovation across all platforms. Jan and I have known each other since I arrived back in Belgium in 2001 and as we've crossed paths several times over the last years, it was only a matter of time until we decided to bundle our strengths to focus on our common beliefs and goals.

We've defined WomensLab as follows:

WomensLab is a LABORATORY for women across all creative disciplines - a PLAYGROUND for female artists - an ACCELERATOR for creative talent - an INSPIRATION pool for people, projects, brands, a KNOWLEDGE center for gender related marketing, a GENERATOR for female-inspired INNOVATION.

With the launch of WomensLab Muse Communication offers its clients a multi-cultural pool of creatives to tap into to help develop and test everything from new products to innovative and creative communication concepts or campaigns.

You can read the full press release here

Feel free to join us! Register at and upload your work! Or follow us via


Learn from the Future

Last night I attended a VEPEC event where some of Belgium's foremost business leaders from the publishing & media world and politicians discussed the current crisis and its effects on our industry: disastrous to say the least. Some publishers said that income generated by advertising was down by as much as 30% (at least that's what they'll admit to in public). The CEO of the Alfacam Group and founder of the soon to launch television channel "EXQI" went even further, saying that "the 30-second spot will disappear completely in the foreseeable future."
Now if these two small snippets from an evening marked by unspoken unease and questions filled with fear or bewilderment don't spell "dawn of a new world order", then I don't know what it will take to wake people up.
Some people have been "awake" to the new realities for a while, including MIT professor Otto Scharmer. Author of "Theory U", Scharmer is an action researcher who creates innovations in learning and leadership that he delivers through classes and lectures across the globe.
In this 7-minute video he succinctly explains what the revolutionary statement "learn from the future" means. As I watched the video, it struck me that the requirements and method for innovation were based on a right-brain approach, of course also known to be more 'female' in that it requires unbounded qualitative patterns rather than linear sequences. 

Suffice it to say that I am curious to see how a largely hierarchal, linear, male-dominated business world will respond to these new non-linear rules for true innovation.


Welcome to the future of business: 100 companies that will change the world

I've been saying it to anyone who will listen: the current economic crisis will change the way in which we do business - for ever.

But I'm certainly not the first to notice the fundamental societal shifts that are currently shaking up our lives. The signs have been there for all to notice: our unbalanced lifestyles that have lead to countless broken families and stress-related afflictions, the youth of today being dubbed the "work-to-live, not live-to-work generation" or the almost irreversible damage our "Me-myself-and-I" globalized consumerism has caused over the past few decades. Let's be honest: how much longer did we think this excessive and self-obsessed way of living could last?

How will these shifts impact the way we live and do business? Fundamentally, if you ask me.
We will need to (re)find a balance between that has been lost for many decades.

What a refreshing, inspiring discovery it was when I came upon Striding Out's "Future 100" list this morning. The Future 100 list is a compilation of talented young entrepreneurs aged 18-35 who demonstrate entrepreneurial flair and innovation in progressing a responsible business venture. Responsible business is defined as one which demonstrates a balance between economic, environmental and social goals to achieve ultimate business success.

"The future of our world is in the hands of individuals who are committed to generating commercial and ethical returns. Challenging economic times can offer opportunities to question the way we operate as both a business community and a society. We are looking for the 'Future 100' young entrepreneurs who are changing the face of everyday business and improve commerce's impact on the wider world," says Striding Out founder Heather Wilkinson.

Some of the companies that caught our attention: - design company developing products exclusively for the Aid and Humanitarian markets.
Fair Gift - Fair Trade gifts from Asia, Africa and South America.
TribeWanted - inspirational holidays with a purpose
LM3Online - helps you measure your organization's economic contribution to its community.
Women Like Us - helps Mom's reintegrate into the working community
The Hub - connecting 'the new entrepreneurs' with each other across the globe.
Journeys For Change - takes extraordinary leaders on interactive expeditions to learn from the world's most inspiring social and environmental entrepreneurs.


Marketing to Moms Must Read.

Rasorfish and Cafemom recently issued a report called "Digital Mom".

It contains a wealth of information about how technologies are affecting the behavior of moms - from how they parent, socialize and keep in touch, to how they shop.

Reading the report really brings home the fact that the way in which moms communicate and whom they trust is changing fundamentally. As marketeers, it is imperative we understand how to leverage emerging technologies as well as the growing social influence of the digital mom in a changing media landscape.

So, if you're marketing your product/service also to Moms (and really, who isn't?), then you should read this report!