Women consumers are more loyal than male consumers is to risk a sexist view of marketing and the complacence that comes with assuming that more steadfast consumers will not walk away from you. We know from countless case studies that no brand is entirely immune from disloyalty. Spurred by competitive forces and greater insights, brands are constantly encouraging infidelity so that they can ensnare their competitors’ loyalists.
What this does do, however, is to force us to push the marketing envelope harder to find ways of cultivating enduring loyalty. Over the last decade or so, advances in motivational research and ‘neuromarketing’ research have uncovered startling insights about the nature of building brand loyalty and the differences between marketing to men and women. The interaction between brand loyalty and gender based marketing has created an interesting intellectual battleground for marketers.
Creating brand loyalty depends heavily on creating relevant brand memories — memories that can form the foundation for a relationship between brands and their consumers. This is easier said than done when a supermarket-full of brands is vying for attention and splintering consumer memory into finer, less dependable fragments.
Clearly however, the brands that are winning the battle for mind space are those that are able to do so with a repeated focus on engaging their consumers’ brains more holistically.
This observation necessitates delving into a space where few chauvinistic philosophers have dared to venture — the female mind. Recent advances in the study of brainwave patterns places a scientific certainty on evidence that was only anecdotal thus far. For instance, MRI scans intended to identify the differences between women’s and men’s brains indicate that women have 11 percent more neurons than men’s especially in the cerebral cortex regions that influence language and hearing. Also, the female brain is much better connected across hemispheres which mean it has a superior cross-function processing ability. Put simply, women are better at integrating all their senses and thoughts to form more holistic memories. This also implies that women’s brains are better wired for feeling and recalling emotions than men.
Marketing to women therefore needs to be of a much higher order if it hopes to capture their attention and, as a result, their allegiance, inescapably. This places an exacting, yet achievable task before the savvy marketer to create a more powerful brand experience compared to the nearest competitor and in doing so evoke an emotional response that can embed with brand’s message in a manner that is linked to the female consumer’s life goals. The effect that this can have on purchase behavior is ultimately what this is all about.
We now know that if a brand is to hope to create an enduring bond with women, it must acknowledge women’s higher emotional intelligence and ability to empathize with others (such as their family and friends) places very specific demands on marketers.
Brands that hope therefore to create greater loyalty amongst women must go beyond the regular lip-service of ‘feminizing’ their communication with design and create solutions that adhere to a woman’s world view and her deepest desires by building more gratifying experiences.
While this is important, it is also critical that product formulation and the research that precedes it should attempt to take into account the social, hormonal, emotional, mental, sensorial and physical attributes that make women who they are. Marketers need to move beyond a functional/rational view of ‘value’ and create product experiences that cater to how women think and live their lives in relation to those around them. This can mean very simple product attributes that mirror the traits women themselves prioritise and seek.
When you look through the keyhole of the Indian woman’s abode in the same way she would, these possibilities become amply clear. Let’s start at the door. A security system that is strong, silent, unobtrusive but alert, gives her a sense of security and mental freedom. An air-conditioner that doesn’t just cool but sanitises the air her family breathes is the purveyor of health. The refrigerator that keeps food fresh but also conserves costs by being energy efficient. The poultry products are pre-cut so she can spend more time with her family than cooking for it.
The mosquito repellant can preserve the propriety of her sanctum sanctorum and the air freshener that can create an environment of warmth and vitality.
The furniture should be both stylish and ergonomically advanced. Personal care products should augment her appearance naturally and without punishing chemicals.
These are all examples that bear out the fact that better experiences and a more empathic view of India’s female consumer will catapult common stereotypes into practical innovation in service of what is arguably, the Indian consumer market’s most influential constituency.