Marketing to Women: “Secrets and Lies” Consumers Are Hiding

September 22, 2013 § 1 Comment

neuromarketing.2Consumers can be hiding their true motivations.  That’s the findings of a new research study by Young & Rubicam.  Consumers may be hiding their most important desires and motivations from marketers.  In fact, consumers may hold views that are the opposite of what they say, and they are okay with that.

How did they discover this new finding?  Y&R reports that they used traditional survey research to reveal what people think consciously and indirect questioning, Implicit Association, to get at the unconscious motivations.  This is part of the movement to neuromarketing and will definitely be important when marketing to women.

Chip Walker, the Y&R EVP who was responsible for the study says that Consumers hide their motivations.  While people may claim that achieving “meaning in life” is their most important value consciously,  unconsciously “sexual fulfillment” ranks #1.

One of the contradictions you find in research is that while sex definitely sells, provocative advertising does not test well.   Apparently, we do not like to admit that sex can be motivating.  Maybe that’s the truth underlying the news uproar about Miley Cyrus “twerking” , while her new release has steadily climbed to #1 on the charts.

Some of the contradictions pointed out by the research are in top conscious and unconscious values.  American’s top conscious values are helpfulness, choosing your own path, and meaning of life  — while our top unconscious values  are maintaining security, sexual fulfillment, and respect for tradition.

brand-rankingsBrands both suffer and benefit from this dichotomy of unconscious and conscious desires. Brands that top the conscious list are Amazon, Google, Apple, Target, Whole Foods, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Facebook, AT&T and Prius.   The top 10 brands that have a secret crush with consumers are Target, Amazon, Facebook, Whole Foods, National Enquirer, Exxon, McDonald’s, Apple, Starbucks and AT&T.  Google and Prius drop off the top 10 list and amazingly National Enquirer and Exxon move up.

There is now a large group of consumers that appear to be fine with this conflicting mindset.  They also feel that marketers don’t really understand them.

What should we takeaway from this study?  

1.  The Good v. Bad Mentality.  Traditional research has limitations in certain areas.  Researchers and marketers have intuitively known this for years.  Ask restaurant diners if they want more healthy products on the menu and they will say yes.  But those healthy products never make a huge dent in the product mix.  I think there are many accepted contradictions in every industry, and marketers must be attune to both realities of the business and consumer insight.

2.  One Size Doesn’t Fit All.  Thankfully, we women consumers can’t always be grouped into easy to understand segments.  But brands can reach us if they understand the emotional benefits of their brand.  Since the Gulf oil spill, Dove detergent has done a good job of helping us understand that it is good for our hands and good for cleaning up oil-soaked birds.  That emotional benefit is larger than the appeal of soft hands for busy Moms.

3.  Marketing to Women is Complex.  And in today’s world, our cultural view of women is in flux.  Young women will hold vastly different views and opinions from older women.  Breadwinner women may hold non-traditional views about work and family.

If you are interested in understanding more about the type of testing used in the Y&R study, You can read more about implicit association tests here, or try a demo test yourself.

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§ One Response to Marketing to Women: “Secrets and Lies” Consumers Are Hiding

  • Akanksha says:

    Reblogged this on I know what you're thinking. and commented:
    An interesting study conducted by Young & Rubicam about how consumers could be hiding their true motivations. Especially, women – sometimes without even knowing that what they say is contradictory to what they feel. Thank you #thelipstickeconomy!

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