Marketing to women is different

What do women want? It’s increasingly the question that millions of dollars ride on. After all, they directly purchase or influence buying behavior of over 80% of the categories that we as marketers pitch every day. We’ve grown up on a diet of how marketing to women is different; their behavior and attitudes poles apart and how messaging/communication needs deliberate customization – on how to think pink. Are marketers guilty of speaking to this gender divide and perpetuating stereo typical portrayal of half the population, in guise of reflecting society? Or is there evidence of ‘brave marketing’ that has liberated itself from more of the same and made a meaningful connection with the woman consumer.

Brands still tend to box her into a simplistic classification of the bahu, beti, biwi, ma, and seductress and recently the time challenged working woman. It’s always in one of her ‘doer’ avatars, seldom understanding or reflecting her dilemmas and emotions as an individual. While the brand may offer a family relevant solution, the relationship can be far more powerful if its conversation is deeply personal. After all there is no Male Maslow or Woman’s Halyen’s.

It’s interesting that when we investigate kids, tweens, teens or boomers, we tend to be more gender neutral and focus on understanding their underlying motivations as individuals or cohorts. However we tend to go back to the safety of a ‘role box’ when it comes to women. Yet spanning time, it is Mother India, Manthan, Lalitaji, Cadbury girl on the pitch, Diamond Bride, Dove, Rakhi ka Swayamvar, Gang of Girls and the gender equalizing ability of reality shows like Big Boss and Roadies to name a few that are memorable and brave for their time. And they have touched a chord with women as individuals.

We are still a while away from shedding the seven second product window that serves as an elaborate ‘purchase justification’ especially for products that target women. There are 5 gender-neutral marketing principles that marketers talking to women could specially benefit from. These principles could be the launch pad for brave new ideas and creative strategies for the future.

Engagement marketing:

Moving from one way brand monologues to dialogues, do we value her views, provide her a platform to express, showcase her creativity, and celebrate her talent? And then make them cornerstones of brand building? Different channels could be explored depending on her profile – digital, packaging for snacking recipes, television content for her suggestions on parenting, radio for volunteering time to teach.
Context marketing:

Amplifying brand messaging in the relevant context. Not just another way to say 360 degree, which intends to remind her about the brand at every conceivable touch point. But look at whether the brand intervention touches her at real moments; when she experiences ‘pride’, ‘courage’ or ‘freedom’ – that is the brands key idea? The cluttered grocery after all may not be the appropriate moment to heighten sensuality or a fleeting hoarding to inspire self worth.

Values marketing:

Do we espouse a point of view, value system or a credo that she currently lives or aspires to live by? Does our brand help her legitimize or live vicariously values that are meaningful and progressive?

Authenticity marketing:

The larger authenticity seeking trend is further magnified when marketing to women. They investigate, question, seek advice and suggestions and yield three times more recommending power than men. While digital technology is the modern manifestation of keeping brands in check through blogs and social media, it’s the neighborhood aunty, social worker and kitty party avatar, which have always existed. Do our brands make promises they keep? Are our claims genuine? The packs are simple enough for her, even when she is not conversant in English or literate.

Buzz marketing:

Do we create new found interest or teach her something surprising when we connect with her? When did we last provide her with a ‘new life experience’?

She’s our new consumer. She happens to be a woman. Could we aim to create ideas that are purple not only pink?