Are You Marketing to Women? You Need to Lean In Too!

March 20, 2013 § 2 Comments


Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

The idea of “lean in” is not a new one.  Lean in means to press forward like leaning in to the wind so you won’t be blown over – or leaning in because you are more than interested, involved – all in.  In the past few weeks, you need to have been in a cloistered retreat to miss all the hoopla over Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s new book “Lean In:  Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.”  Sheryl Sandberg is an amazing woman who tells an engaging story about the workplace today and women’s own responsibility in moving up in business.

But marketers need to “lean in” as well.  Marketers need to recognize the power and influence of the women in the consumer arena and to greet that knowledge with more intuitive marketing that allows today’s women to see themselves in marketing.  Marketers need to be “all in” on the importance of women as consumers.

Here are just a few facts that support marketers “leaning in” on the subject of women and their purchasing behavior.

1.  One-third of Women are Single and Independent.   This is a growing group of women who think being independent is their most important life goal.  They have more disposable income than other women.  They are well educated, growing in management and happy to be single.

2.  Breadwinner wives are the highest wage earners in 40% of marriages.    From 2007 to 2011, women’s contribution to household income grew from 44% to 47%.  Male dominated jobs suffered the most in the past recession and women were more stable in their jobs.  Women now compose half of the workforce and are moving up the ladder.

3.  Women don’t think marketers understand them.  Women make 85% of all consumer purchases and yet, 91% of women don’t think marketeres understand them.  Women want authenticity, transparency, honesty and accurate portrayal.  Families are not longer nuclear, and women don’t measure success by how clean their laundry is.  It’s no surprise that only 3% of advertising agency creative directors are women.

4.  Marketers need to embrace women’s tools – social media and smartphones.  The newest figures out on social media usage from Pew show that the percentage of female internet users exceeds that of men (75% vs. 63%, respectively).  A new study by Weber Shanadwick provides richer insight on this social usage.  Here are some facts you can’t ignore –

  • 86% have a social media account/profile with 2.2 accounts on average
  • 81% Facebook is by far the most prevalent social media account
  • Women spend an average of 12 hours per week using social media (nearly 2 hours/day)
  • 19% say some of their best friends they know only through Facebook or Twitter

And why is this important?  Well, social women are social and have influence with friends.  They tell friends about products and services at a higher rate, they like or recommend services online, and they post comments and write reviews about products and services online.  And they post pictures or images online.

Oh, and smartphones are the most important tools in women’s handbags.  50.9% of smartphone users are women and we are using smartphones to stay in touch with our families and friends, interact on social media, and shop, shop, SHOP!!  If women can’t easily find you on their mobile phone or if you are not competitive, she will move on to another source.  Moms are on their phones six hours daily and  readily admit that their smartphones are more important than sex!

5.  Women buy based on emotion and facts. Okay, everyone does.  But marketers don’t seem to understand that in many arenas.  In purchasing decisions, 83 percent are willing to spend more on a product or service if they feel a personal connection to the company. One fifth of respondents said they would pay 50 percent or more if they felt the company put the customer first.  And yes, we have crushes on companies.  Who are those companies?  Think about your own list.  Mine includes Apple (oh, yes even if Samsung is making competitive products), Amazon (I smile when I see a box), Nordstrom’s (even my husband knows this is my brand), and Costco (a Saturday shopping pleasure).

So what’s a marketer to do?  Portray women accurately, don’t talk down to us, appeal to our emotional side, allow us to discover things about your brand, surprise us once in awhile, lavish us with great information and advice and like any good marriage – communicate, communicate, communicate.


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§ 2 Responses to Are You Marketing to Women? You Need to Lean In Too!

  • Roy Landers says:

    Thank you for such an informative and step by step outlay of the difference between the genders when considering marketing strategy. The article is enlightening and I shall certainly use the tips. Although I am a male, I do understand the power of the female market and the importance of making sure marketing is geared to them and represents “what they want”.

    I am a distributor of an anti-aging and health maintenance product that is unique and based on stem cell technology that is revolutionizing the facial and health maintenance industry. One thing I found out is that large scale marketers in the anti-aging industry are missing the mark. They don’t reflect in their marketing the real market for such a product, the 40-65 year old female. Women want such products to reflect who they are and what they look like. Your article clearly is on point.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Danny Macias says:

    Thank you for writing this post. I’m happy that consumers as a whole benefit from the interaction between women and the brands they love. It just feels better to interact with those brands. In contrast, much marketing aimed at men can seem embarrassingly juvenile and as one-dimensional as a “let’s make it in pink” campaign. Constantly rehashed super-hero archetype movies and light beer, Vegas road-trip monotony, I’m talking to you.
    So why has marketing to women been ignored, botched, or under-valued? Maybe the forever-outdated male-centric connection of ‘shopping’ with ‘something that women do’ has clouded otherwise savvy business minds from seeing the clear connection that shop=buy=purchase=drive the economy. That seems to be the clear picture that the numbers cited reveal.
    Thanks also to Katie Patrillo, for linking this blog.

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