Are Female CEOs Being Thrown Off The “Glass Cliff”?

May 17, 2014 § 2 Comments

abramson101004_250New research shows that female CEOs and  senior executive women like Jill Abramson are more likely to be abruptly fired, thrown off the “glass cliff”, than men.  Researchers at Strategy& have released a report that found that women are forced out of chief executive positions more than a third of the time, while only a quarter of men in similar positions experience the same fate.  Oh, by the way, women only represent about 3% of new CEOs.

An illustration of this phenomenon could be the recent unceremonious departure of Jill Abramson as  executive editor of The New York Times.  Reporters everywhere are trying to get to the bottom of the story.   Is this a story of classic gender discrepancy where men are seen as strong, driven, and effective leaders while women are seen as churlish, pushy and bossy?  Was she a victim of the “glass cliff theory” where companies promote women to power in times of corporate crisis and then see their “management styles” as ineffective?  Doing your job may not always be enough.  During Abramson’s tenure, the New York Times won eight Pulitzer prizes, signups for digital increased, and the company stock doubled.

What does research show?

Women are more often hired from outside the company and women are more often forced out of the office (38% women vs. 27% men).  Many  of these companies still lack enough female senior executives below the CEO level who can move up to a CEO position.  Companies hiring female executives from outside are also likely to be less tolerant of shortcomings than they are with executives groomed in-house. And external CEOs are seven times more likely to be dismissed after a short tenure.  What happens after a female CEO is fired?  The boardrooms fall back into traditional behavior - they hire white men with experience. 

Should we “Ban Bossy”?

650queenSheryl Sandberg and the Girl Scouts agree on one thing – We should “Ban Bossy”.  The word bossy can discourage women from seeking leadership positions.  In one of Sandberg’s anti-bossy spots, celebrity Beyoncé proclaims, “I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.” According to the Girl Scouts Ban Bossy National Youth Poll 2014, more than a third of girls who are called “bossy” lose interest in leading and stop making decisions or suggestions.

While women are increasing the top levels of management, there is still a long way to go.  The proportion of women in the CEO position has doubled to nearly 4% in the past five years and could rise to 33% by 2040.  But old habits, the gender norms of corporate leadership, remain hard to change.


Marketing to Women: Is the Lunch Hour Dead?

May 13, 2014 § 1 Comment

lunch timeAs I was munching on my McDonald’s salad at my desk today, I started wondering about the fate of lunch in America.  I certainly don’t seem to break for lunch as often as I used to.  In fact, the phrase lunch hour is even misleading.  In a recent study , 48% of employees say that the typical lunch break is 30 minutes or less.  And in another study by Staples, 19% of employees say they don’t stop for lunch at all.  In 2010, Monster found that more than 20 percent of workers say they always eat lunch at their desks.

The lunch “break” has turned into a time for errands, online shopping, more work and maybe a quick bite.  Here are some of the reasons behind these trends.

•  The recession spawned a cutback in personal and business spending.  And currently the IRS only allows 50% of entertainment expenses.  With a focus on productivity, some employees feel pressure to work more and don’t feel they have time for lunch.

•  Working women have a lot of tasks to accomplish.  Any given day may include errands, online shopping, haircuts and a quick bite.  Working moms are 13% more likely to have spent $2500+ on internet purchases, 10% more likely to do their banking online and they own almost every mobile device technology that allows them to shop.

•  Lunch hour shopping trends show 84% of moms shop 15 minutes or more a day at work.  And most of that shopping happens between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.  Some 43% of female workers say they did their holiday shopping online while at work, compared to only 35% of male workers.  Not surprisingly,  21% of back to school shopping happens online.  Woman shoppers use the time as a welcome break from their office routine and would rather shop online than go to a mall.

Some categories have benefitted from this trend.  Certainly online shopping of all kinds has prospered.  Retailers see rising traffic during the 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. period and some are creating two-hour “stop, drop and shop” promotions during that lunch window.  Grocery stores have embraced the trend with more “grab and go” lunch foods.  According to market researcher NPD Group, grocers have seen their lunchtime purchases of prepared food like sandwiches and salads jump by 28% since 2008.  And fast casual restaurants like Panera and Chipotle provide high quality food options with a lower time commitment.  There is also a trend to wanting snacks at all times to tide workers over to dinner time.

In the world of advertising and marketing, the three martini lunches were legend.  Gerald Ford said, “The three-martini lunch is the epitome of American efficiency. Where else can you get an earful, a bellyful and a snootful at the same time?”  While some still remember those long lost “Mad Men” three martini lunches fondly, in retrospect, they seem indulgent and luxurious.  Time might have been the true luxury. Maybe those lunches were not very productive, but they did provide opportunity for marketers and clients to know each other better.  Maybe we have traded the martini for the macchiato, but that coffee with a client might be a great time to really talk, listen to each other and share ideas freely.  Cheers!





Marketing to Women: The Pressure to Be Popular Online

May 13, 2014 § 1 Comment

mean-girls-8137Peer pressure beyond acne, the cool crowd and first dates?

I recently heard Bridget Brennan of The Female Factor speak at the M2W Conference about the immense impact of popularity on society today.  It’s not the popularity that we dealt with in middle school or high school.

Today, it is the pressure to be interesting online.  How interesting are your posts?  How many people follow you?  How many times have your posts been shared?  We check our stats incessantly.  Heck, some job interviewers even want to know your Klout score.

Why is Online Popularity Important?

Today some 98% of  persons online in the US use social media, so does social media relate to social capital?  Social capital has always been important.  It is considered to be the sum of the networks, connections, influence and interactions people have with other individuals.  There have always been different types of social capital based on your sphere of influence, your wealth, your status in aristocracy, your celebrity and your accomplishments.

In today’s world, online influence can be measured as those with the most Twitter followers – Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Barack Obama or top Facebook Pages for Shakira, Rihanna and Coke. Bloggers like The Pioneer Woman have created complete media platforms from their original blog, and LinkedIn has introduced us to the Influencers.   Digital influence raters like Klout, PeerIndex, and Kred are investing millions of dollars to understand how our social media activity translates into influence.

It seems that you can increase your social capital online if you follow some important rules.   If you use social media to communicate directly with other individuals—by posting valuable information, commenting on friends’ posts, regular posting, being helpful—it can increase your social capital. Personalized messages seem to have more value  than “one-click communication”.  Just reading and occasionally posting does not add to your popularity.

Brands are beginning to learn that scores do not matter as much as engagement and real relationships. Businesses need to develop meaningful social influence strategies and define their desired outcomes. Not all followers are created alike.  Just like in high school, not all popular people were really fun to be around.

Marketing Demographics: Nine Facts about the New Face of America

April 30, 2014 § 1 Comment

cheeriosDemographics have a whole new face in America.  We are not the Cleavers anymore; we truly are more like The Modern Family.

For those of us who have been in marketing for years, the ubiquitous demographics fell into chunks of age groups, marital status, presence of children, job title and ethnicities that allowed us to purchase mass audiences with ease.  While those demos might change per product, the world seemed a static place.  But today’s world is changing in ways we could not have imagined at the heyday of mass media.  We need to adjust our thinking and our marketing to these new realities.

We have tried to capture just a few of the seismic shifts happening, as identified by Pew Research.

1.  America is becoming multi-colored.  Pew describes it best by saying that “we were once a black and white country.  Now, we’re a rainbow.”   Currently America is 64% white, 12% black, 16% Hispanic, 5% Asian and 3% other.  By 2060, we are projected to be 43% white, 13% Black and 31% Hispanic.   The immigrants of the early 20th century were all European.  Half of all immigrants in the last half of the 20th century and early 21st century have been from Latin America. But the truth is we are moving to a much more homogenized appearance.  Some 43% of Millennial adults are non-white, the highest share of any generation.  The majority of Americans are estimated to be non-white by 2043.

2.  Intermarriage is blurring racial lines.  Racial intermarriage was frowned upon in earlier years and downright illegal in nearly one-third of the states.  Today one in six marriages are inter-racial or mixed ethnicities.  Even President Obama, Tiger Woods, and Bruno Mars are examples of the new mixed ethnicity and culture we see in today’s world. Half of all newborns in the United States is non-white. Stephen Stearns, a Yale professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, says globalization, immigration, cultural diffusion and the ease of modern travel will gradually homogenize the human population, averaging out many racial traits, and making the presence of brown skin much more prevalent.

SDT-next-america-03-07-2014-0-023.  Marriage is deemed less important today.  Just 26% of Millennials (age 18-33) are currently married. When Gen Xers were the same age some 36% were married, and 48% of Baby Boomers were married.  More than 65% of the Silent Generation (ages 65 and older) were married when they were aged 18-33.  Some think that the recession had a lot to do with delayed marriages among Millennials, but there are many factors.   Some 44% of Millennials say that marriage is becoming obsolete.  Today’s couples are marrying later, sometimes after they have started a family, or not at all.   In 2012, 47% of births to Millennial women were non-marital, compared with 21% among older women.

4.  Parenthood is valued over marriage.  Maybe it’s because the stigma of out-of-wedlock births is fading, or today’s parents saw too many broken relationships among their parents.   But in today’s world millennials value the parent experience over marriage.  A 2010 Pew Research survey found that 52% of Millennials say being a good parent is “one of the most important things” in life.  Just 30% say that having a successful marriage is one of the most important things.

SDT-next-america-03-07-2014-0-015.  Millennials are detached from institutions.  Some 29% of Milliennials are religiously unaffiliated, compared to 16% of their Boomer parents.  And 50% of them consider themselves political independents, yet they are more liberal.   The connections that they establish are online.  They are digital natives in the center of their social world.

6.  Breadwinner Moms  are prevalent.   Today, four in ten households with children under 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family. Some 50 years ago, that number was one in ten.  The “breadwinner moms” are made up of two very different groups: 5.1 million (37%) are married mothers who have a higher income than their husbands, and 8.6 million (63%) are single mothers.  This growth is tied to many trends including the fact that women make up some 47% of the today’s workforce.  Today only 20% of children live in households with a married stay-at-home mother with a working husband, compared to 41% of children in 1970.

7.  Young women are succeeding in education, jobs and pay. Young women are more educated than men.   Thirty eight percent of women aged 25-32 have at least a four-year degree, compared with 31% of men.  They are also beginning to be paid at near parity with men.  Women’s earnings in this age group were 93% of their male counterparts in 2012.  Another new change among married women was noted in 2012, 21% had spouses who were less educated than they were—a 3x increase from 1960.

 8.  Grandparents are Second Parents.  One in ten children live with a grandparent and many are being cared for primarily by a grandparent.  In 80% of the households where children are living with a grandparent, at least one of the child’s parents is also in the household.   The reasons for this care are teen parents, disability, unemployment and parent school enrollment.  Grandparents are an important force in most families.  Some 75% of Boomer grandparents are involved in the raising of their grandchildren, and using that disposable income on Junior.

9.  The Aging of America is happening every day.  For all of our years, our age ranges have looked like a pyramid, with babies at the bottom and just a few 85+ at the top.  But from 1960 to 2060, our pyramid is going to turn into a rectangle. We will have almost as many Americans over age 85 as under age 5. This is the result of longer life spans and lower birthrates.  Today, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day between now and 2030.

10th Annual M2W: Five Reasons to Go

April 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

I am counting down the days to the 10th Annual M2W: Marketing to Women Conference on May 6-7.  I am looking forward to hanging out with some incredible folks and catching up on the latest in my favorite subject Marketing to Women!

M2W-2014-ConferenceNan McCann, President of PME Enterprises and Liz Fongemie, Senior Vice President,  are two of the organizers that make this conference relevant, distinctive and personal.  There are receptions where you actually can visit with speakers and round tables where you can meet other attendees.

Here are some of my favorite reasons to attend:

1.  Barbara Lippert.  Using old commercials, print ads, toys, and TV shows, noted pop culture expert and M2W® Keynote Speaker Barbara Lippert will analyze the trends and attitudes toward women during the past 50 years of advertising.  That should be a doozy!  Barbara has been a longtime favorite on all things advertising, writing for and Adweek.

2.  Marti Barletta.  Marti is a pioneer on marketing to women.   Her first book, Marketing to Women, was the original treatise on the subject, and her latest book, PrimeTime Women, focuses in on the market’s high-spending sweet spot – Boomer women in their mid-life prime.   Marti is the real deal.


Bridget Brennan CEO, Female Factor

3.  Bridget Brennan.  If there is one book all marketers should read it is Bridget’s Why She Buys.  At M2W, Bridget Brennan, will discuss the Top 10 trends in Marketing and Selling to Women consumers, including the global and cultural climate of female populations and insights on Millennial women’s consumer behavior.  I can’t wait!

4.  Elisa Camahort Page.  Elisa is one of the founders of BlogHer.  She will be talking about Social Media Success and what nine years of data has shown them.  Elisa will share key insights about what moves the needle with women, what social platforms work best for what kinds of campaigns, and the unexpected ways we all still get it wrong when it comes to marketing to women online.

5.  Close-ups with major brands, case studies and fresh research.  This year’s conference will have presentations from McDonald’s, Vixen Vodka, Harley-Davidson, WNBA, Corning Ware and more.

I hope to see you there.  And as a disclaimer, The Lipstick Economy does not have any financial relationship with M2W.  We just think it is a must-attend event.



Marketing to Women: Six Truths about Social Media Usage

April 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

Six truths about Women and Social Media.  (Infographic below.)

1.  Women have dominated social media for some time. A greater percentage of adult U.S. women use Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter than male counterparts. The one social network that boasts more men is the professional-networking site LinkedIn.

2.  Women use social media more often during the day.  Thirty percent (30%) of women use social media several times daily, compared to 26% of men.

3.  Women are more likely to interact with brand in social media, compared to men.  Women show support, access offers, stay current and comment at greater rates than men.

4.  Women consumer more news in social media than men.  Some 58% of women consumer news compared to 42% men.

5.  Women also use smartphones and tablets more often for social media.

6.  And women post more images to social media, helping to grow visual sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr.




Marketing to Women: The Power of Storytelling from Kurt Vonnegut

April 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

Stories are the playbook for life.  Stories are the way we teach, the way we communicate, the way we entertain, and the way we impart value. Some marketers have known the value of story for many years.  Researchers tell us that a story is the only way to activate parts of the brain so that a listener turns the story into their own idea and experience.  Those of us who know the iconic J. Peterman catalogues read them for the mesmerizing value of their stories about where their exotic products were discovered and the effect of wearing their products.


Kurt Vonnegut, American Writer

Recently, as a literary & anthropological experiment, Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn decided to see if they could resell cheap knickknacks (avg. cost $1.25) on eBay and turn a significant profit by adding personal stories to the item descriptions.  Their hypothesis was that creative stories would increase the perceived value of each object and create an incremental profit on each item sold.  With the addition of colorful anecdotes, their $129 purchase of thrift store items was sold for nearly $8,000.

The Harvard Business Review reminded us of the power of the story as told by Kurt Vonnegut.  It seems that Vonnegut devoted his master’s thesis at the University of Chicago to studying the shapes of stories.  Vonnegut not only exhibits a great understanding of story, but is an entertaining storyteller.  He tells us there are basically three types of stories that we humans find irresistible.  The three stories are Boy Gets Girl, Man in Hole and Cinderella.  He tells his audience that the Cinderella story is “the most popular story in our Western civilization. Every time it’s retold somebody makes another million dollars. You’re welcome to do it.”

What you see in this short film is the endless fascination that the human mind has for story.  As marketers, we need to be students of Vonnegut and the story, and make all our marketing a powerful story for consumers.


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