Bringing Men to the ‘Marketing to Women’ Table
Commentary by Andrea Learned, President and founder, Learned On Women
Six years or so ago, when I first began observing and working in the marketing to women realm, it was a bit frustrating to see so many industries ignoring that huge opportunity. Still, I figured that “conversion” was just around the corner (within a couple of years) for the bulk of businesses whose sales were at all influenced by women.
Today, the numbers are staggering (women control $5 trillion in consumer spending and are the primary purchasers of cars, computers, electronics, appliances, insurance and other high-ticket items), but many industries have still not taken a second look at the power and buying minds of their female consumers.
Except for the first tier of early adopters, such as health, beauty and apparel, the next tier of marketers with the most to gain by a more female-focused approach seem as though they are asleep at the wheel.
In the past few years, there has certainly been a great deal of attention given to more effectively marketing to women. Sessions at business conferences, women’s market-focused workshops, stand-alone events, books, blog posts, etc., have all taken up the issue but real momentum has yet to build.
From my insider’s view, marketing to women often feels a bit like a club of smart ad agency women (a few men, too) and other experts talking amongst ourselves. The conundrum is how to get those who could really benefit into this inner circle? How can we get them sufficiently excited about the female opportunity to get them to learn about growing the market?
It seems to be a matter of communication style and I’m wondering if we all don’t need to study up a bit on “how men buy” to gain greater insights.
If, in general, women have a more complex, less linear purchasing process and men have a more linear, “just the facts, ma’am” approach, what are the facts that will help sway men to “buy into” marketing to women truths, and how do they need them presented?
In You Just Don’t Understand, socio-linguist Deborah Tannen, Ph.D. called male-female conversation a “cross-cultural communication.” While men tend to communicate via status and independence, women tend to communicate via connection and intimacy. These are, indeed, different “genderlects.”
Studies show that women make or influence the purchase of 80 percent of consumer goods in the U.S. If they aren’t handing over the credit card or writing the check, women are very likely to play a big role in the final purchase decision. Given that, learning how women buy should be on almost every retailer’s and consumer goods marketer’s immediate agenda.
Andrea Learned is a leading women’s market expert, writer and speaker. The co-author of “Don’t Think Pink: What Really Makes Women Buy And How To Increase Your Share of This Crucial Market,” she regularly shares her women’s market perspective via her Learned On Women blog. www.learnedonwomen.com
Moderator’s Comment: Could the tremendous marketing-to-women opportunity be presented in a more male dialect? How can we teach the woman’s way of connection
and intimacy in a manner that can be absorbed by a man’s typically status-oriented communication style? –
George Anderson – Moderator