Marketing to Women: Young Single Women Donors More Generous

December 16, 2014 § 1 Comment

young-adults_400x600.shkl_There is a new study reported in The Chronicle of Philanthropy identifying a rising group of charitable donors. The study finds “Millennial and Generation X women who are single and unaffiliated with a religion give two-and-a-half times more money to charity than their older, similarly secular counterparts, according to the report, which looked exclusively at unmarried donors. Their giving also doubles that of peers who have loose ties to a religion.”

For many years, it has been reported that people of faith gave more than unchurched individuals, so this report indicates that intensity of faith may not be as strong an indicator of giving as previously thought.

It seems that young single women may be bucking the trend, but there may be other factors at play as well.  Young single women may represent a growing group of highly educated, high income women who have decided to defer marriage.  This group of Single Indies represent some 28 million women, or one out of three adult women, who spend around $1 trillion each year.  They may have more disposable income and be predisposed to charitable interests.

The report also cites that one-third of Americans under 30 have no religious affiliation.

Clearly, for non-profits, this group of younger women represent an opportunity for both giving and volunteer activities.  Marketing should recognize and speak to this power group.



Six Key Trends Shaping Millennial Thrift Style

October 6, 2014 § 3 Comments

Millennial Thrift Shopping

Millennial Thrift Shopping

My daughter Katie often sends me pictures of her fabulous vintage finds like a folkloric skirt from the 50s or a cocktail dress from the 60s. She is one of many milliennials regularly frequenting shops that specialize in vintage, retro and thrift clothing.

One of the shops Shareen Vintage of Los Angeles describes their vintage wonderland as the creative center of a secret society of women who love to be at the cutting edge of fashion trends.   In their store, clothing is divided by decades, starting in the 1920s through the 1990s, providing a living retrospect to fashion. Another store Re-mix Classic Vintage Footwear actually started out selling vintage shoes, but when demand outpaced their stock, they began having their own 20s – 50s vintage designs manufactured for women demanding more of the vintage looks.

Millennials have embraced Thrift Style, a fashion movement that incorporates several trends with their desire to be an individual. Research by Ypulse shows that 36% of Millennials find thrift shopping cool and 56% of Millennials say that thrift shopping is a great way to find cheap and unique clothes.

Six Key Trends Shaping Millennial Shopping

1.  The end of conspicuous branding and the rise of personal style. Some 55% of people between 13 and 34 say they don’t follow trends. Millennials want to stand out and prize individualism over “fitting in.” With access to global stores like Abercrombie and Fitch are having problems enticing millennials because their fashions are seen as ubiquitous and too high priced for their taste. A big logo is no longer a coveted status symbol. Finding something completely original is the goal of trendsetters today. A thrift store find is both unique and rare. Even celebrities have contributed to the vintage culture by wearing vintage couture to big events like the Oscars and Grammys.

2.  Saving money is cool. There is no surprise that 60% of millennials worldwide feel personally influenced by the economic crisis. So the ability to save money and find a personl look are added bonuses of thrift shopping. Shoppers pride themselves on smart finds at great prices.  In fact, because of the durability of the items, they are actually seen as an investment in higher quality goods.

3.  Sustainability. There is a decided movement against the “disposable culture” of throwaway plastic bags and planned obsolescence of electronics. Shoppers don’t really care if their retail purchases are over-wrapped or put into paper or plastic for transport. They are fine with foregoing some of the traditional trappings of the retail environment. Vintage items are often seen as being constructed better and made out of high quality fabrics. And the ability to recycle things of the past helps cutdown on their personal footprint in society.

4.  Nostalgia for better times. In an unconscious way, milllennials are drawn to simpler times. Those who lived during the first Strawberry Shortcake period remember it with fondness and positive memories. For those who did not experience the 50s and 60s, the vintage look recalls a time of stability and lack of stress. Here in Nashville you can buy and experience a little slice of Grand Ole Opry history by just shopping at Katy’s Western Wear.

5.  Personalization and DIY. Personal style means personalization.   And, influenced by programming such as Project Runway, millennials turn to online sites such as Etsy and eBay for fun finds.   These shoppers and designers can express their own creativity by reworking clothes with sewing, knitting, embellishing and dying their finds. Some 22% of Millennials say they often modify, cut up or embellish their clothing.

6.  Purchases with a Purpose. Thrift stores are getting a millennial makeover to appeal to young shoppers who like to shop with a purpose. The idea that the YWCA can help women, Goodwill trains disadvantaged for retail jobs or ThriftSmart actually gives their proceeds to real charities is an appealing proposition to millennials who want to make a difference in the world around them.

Retailers and marketers alike need to understand the way Millennials shop and how best to appeal to their interests.

Marketing to Women: Generosity Wins

September 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

Generosity and kindness are important social behaviors for individuals, but they are also important for businesses.   Yes, our moms taught us to share and to care about those around us.  Some businesses have learned that lesson as well.


I was reminded of this last week when I was completing a purchase of t-shirts for my supper club.  I had ordered the t-shirts from CustomInk.  The company had sent me a delivery confirmation but I had not received the shirts.  I shot an email back, not really expecting to speak to someone.  And what do you know?  I got an email from my very own T-shirt Ambassador.  She tracked the purchase and told me if they were not there when I got home that evening, that she would be working until 10 pm my time and would immediately work on a replacement order.  Well, the t-shirts did show up and all was well.  And CustomInk now has a loyal customer.  And I have a friend at CustomInk.  When you look at their website, you see the importance of real human contact – they say “talk to a real person” and “chat with a real person”.   Seems I am not the only fan of CustomInk.  They say that 99% of customers would order again.

  • For the past 6 years, CustomInk has been named to the Inc. 500/5000 list of the fastest- growing private companies in America – debuting at #55 in 2005; and, CustomInk has made the Internet Retailer list of America’s Top 500 retail websites based on online sales since 2007.

They also have a great program for fundraising for user groups.  Seems like their core values of The Golden Rule, Ownership and Innovation are working well for them.

Here are some of other companies known for their generosity:

Costco.  Have you ever seen Costco on a good sampling day?  You can hardly navigate the aisles as samples of products are passed generously to all customers.  And those cheap hot dogs and drinks keep shoppers in the store longer.  And returns are easy for members.

Nordstrom.  The return policy at Nordstroms is no return policy.  It’s all about taking care of the customer – no time limit, no receipt, no paperwork.  Free shipping is always available.

Southwest Airlines.  Southwest has always been known for their humor and low prices.  Recently, they have resisted charging for bags.  So their policy for two free bags has certainly added to flyer preference.

Zappos.  Well, Zappos knows that ordering shoes online takes a bit of faith.  So, they allow you to order as many as you want, ship them for free and then let you return them for up to a full year.

Kroger.  Did you know that Kroger tops the list in most generous companies through their community rewards program for schools?  Kroger gives some 10% of their pre-tax profits back to schools and local charities.

TOMS.  Sometimes generosity is to someone else other than the consumer.   TOMS recently gave away their ten millionth pair of shoes.  Their charitable business model has proven successful for them and the millions of children who have benefited from their high quality shoe gifts.  The company has succeeded without outside investors and has never had to purchase an ad.

Trader Joe’s.  Trader Joe’s has personality.  The employees walk around ready to answer questions, easy to spot in their Hawaiian shirts and “ask me” signs.  They always have a cup of coffee and a sample ready for you at the back of the store and are getting rid of plastic shopping bags with their own cute 99 cent bags.

What these companies have in common:

They recognize the importance of their customers.  And they recognize that their benefit and value to a customer is comprised of more than just price.  Here are just some of the lessons as reported in Harvest Business Review:

• Offering things that make consumers feel great with low cost.  Nordstroms often has a pianist in their stores during the holidays.  It’s a small thing but it makes us join in the celebration of the season.  Those cute 99-cent bags at Trader Joe’s make me feel good and look cute.

• Providing customers with a friend.  That t-shirt ambassador took the hassle and fear out of my t-shirt purchase.  Having an ambassador is more than just answering questions.  It is taking responsibility for the customer’s peace of mind.

• Sampling as a marketing strategy.  A sampling study from Knowledge Networks PDI noted that sampling programs (the kind used at Costco) drove a 475% sales lift on the day of the event.  A friend recently was invited to a sampling event at a restaurant which made her more involved and loyal to the restaurant.

• Offering benefits in exchange for important information. Free warranty programs gather detailed consumer information that can be used for customer relationship management purposes.

• Focusing on the life-time value of a customer.   A single transaction might be a loss leader, but generosity may benefit in a life-time customer.   That’s why Gillette gives away free razors for a teenager’s first shave.

100 Years of Marketing History: The Birthday of the T-Shirt

July 13, 2013 § 1 Comment

1971The T-shirt is probably the most important marketing icon of the 20th and 21st Century and this year it turns 100 years old.  Most of us can chronicle our lives by our t-shirts.  We have drawers of t-shirts we can’t throw away.  Remember your first concert t-shirt, your first college t-shirt, your first career t-shirt, your first Bonnaroo t-shirt, your first protest t-shirt, your first Marathon t-shirt, your first American Apparel t-shirt.   T-shirts unite us and tell our story.

A measure of the power of your brand identity is how good it looks on a t-shirt.  It is also the symbol of the emotional connection of your brand, your organization or your event.  It’s the one piece of apparel that unites us in an amazing way.  Ask any parent that has traveled with a group of teenagers – those t-shirts are powerful identifiers.

The T-Shirt Facts

CustomInk recently commissioned a survey of 1,000 representative Americans over the age of 18 that revealed:

95% of Americans wear t-shirts
89% of t-shirt wearing Americans put on a tee at least once a week
9 in every 10 Americans (87%) own at least one t-shirt they refuse to “trash” because of sentimental attachment

19773Marketers have long loved the t-shirt.  In fact the history of the t-shirt certainly tells a marketing story.  T-shirts are marketing billboards, a personal expression of their passions, a novelty and a memory of past times.

In 1932, students started stealing USC t-shirts from the USC football team that said “Property of USC”.1932    The first political t-shirt was “Do it with Dewey”  for his 1948 presidential election.  T-shirts first became popular for everyday wear in the 1950s with the debut of Marlon Brando in the iconic white shirt in A Streetcar Named Desire.  James Dean added his own mark when he appeared in the t-shirt.  Woodstock gave us tie-dyed t-shirts.  Today, many notable and memorable T-shirts produced in the 1970s have now become ensconced in pop culture. Examples include the bright yellow happy face T-shirts, The Rolling Stones tops with their “tongue and lips”logo from the Sticky Fingers album, and Milton Glaser’s iconic “I ♥ N Y” design.

The “I ♥ N Y” design is supposedly the most popular t-shirt ever created. The t-shirt has come a long way since the first t-shirt appeared as standard-issue gear within the U.S. Navy in 1913.  The Navy wanted the lightest weight cotton undershirt they could find. Sailors quickly adopted it as standard attire without their uniform.

The Way To Belong

Research shows we have 13 t-shirts we hold on to for special reasons.  Psychologists say that customized t-shirts are a way to express ourselves in a world of mass markets – “we have infused the spirit of something greater into an object that is seemingly meaningless.”  They are the tribal costumes of today – a measure of belonging.  They become our modern coats of arms.   Here are some of my favorites:

• A Bowling Night shirt from one of my workplace events that says:  Just another night in the gutter with my friends

• A grey standard order Marines t-shirt that signifies my son’s entering the Marines

• Multiple USC t-shirts that represent the football games and parent weekends from my kids’ college days

• A Grammy Museum t-shirt that was from the opening of the LA museum where my daughter worked

• A Minnie Pearl t-shirt that celebrated her 100th birthday and all the laughs she provided us.

• A Simon and Garfunkel concert t-shirt

• Peace and Goodwill to Men t-shirt that I had printed for the Christmas season one year just because

• My “Old Bat” t-shirt that I wear every Halloween

Tell me what some of your favorite t-shirt are and why they are special to you.

Marketing to Women: The Pope and Twitter?

December 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

I love Twitter.  I have always loved the way it seems like running headlines from the lives of people around the world.  Very business-like one minute and intimate or goofy the next.  Usually not the preferred social media for older folks.  But hold on – His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI just announced he was joining the throngs of Tweeters like Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift.  I can’t wait to see what the Pope has to say.

Screen Shot 2012-12-05 at 6.10.02 PM And before the octogenarian has posted his first tweet, he already has 500,000 followers.  His handle is @pontifex.  His first tweet will be December 12 if you want to mark your calendar.

According to the New York Times, “Benedict’s posts will go out in Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish.  The messages will mostly feature the contents of the pope’s speeches at his weekly general audience and Sunday blessings, as well as homilies on major holidays and reaction to major world events, like natural disasters.”

Seems even the Vatican has embraced social media to get their message out to their flock.  The Pope will be successful because he already has a built-in audience, even if the younger ones are not as regular at mass anymore.  This new medium will allow him to reach that audience on their terms.  Oh, and in six years Twitter has amassed 500 million users, has an incredible immediacy of communication and is used in countries where free expression is not the norm.

The Pope is on to something.  The church is losing young people as they launch in life.  And Twitter is ripe with a 400% growth in Twitter usage by 18-24 year olds.  And since 53% of the users are women and they influence the religious habits of the family, it is a good gender choice..  

 The demographics tend to skew young as shown in this chart which also shows the amazing growth in the younger demo.


Making a Difference: Giving Women A Hand Up, Not a Hand Out

December 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

mid_w_longer_line1I am devoting some time this month to shine a light on some of my favorite non-profits and what they are doing to make our communities a better place.  What does this have to do with marketing?  Brands that associate with cause marketing benefit from the association. So I hope you are working on your brand’s social consciousness and amping up your relationships with worthy causes in your community.

Some 85% of consumers have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about.

Here at The Lipstick Economy, we think women should help other women.  And one of those non-profits that stands out to us is CWJC of Middle Tennessee for their role in helping women to become self-sufficient.  In my own county, one-fourth of families with children under 18 live in poverty. CWJC is working to change that stat by providing tools for self-sufficiency.

1Q8Z6572BWCWJC has been working in the community for more than 15 years, helping women who are struggling to meet their financial needs because of a lack of education or job skills.  CWJC provides disadvantaged women with the skills they need to transform their lives including GED preparation, computer classes, ESL classes and job and life skills.  At the same time, they provide every student with a mentor, childcare and tutoring for the children, Bible Study and a loving environment that boosts their self-esteem.  The program is lean – it depends on 250 volunteers to serve as teachers, tutors, mentors and childcare workers.  But the results are amazing.  More than 70% of the women in the program either graduate with their GED or meet their goals of improving their status.

be a light3Be a Light! This Christmas CWJC is hoping to bring more light into the lives of women working to be self-sufficient.  During the holiday season, they are asking that donations be made to Be A Light.  A donation as small as $25 will provide free childcare for a mom enrolled in computer classes.  A donation of $1,000 will enroll a GED graduate in a college/job training program.  And $2400 would provide a scholarship for one women in the CWJC program.  To learn more, click here.

I know many of these women and I love them all.  They are no different than most of us – they are struggling to be a mom, a role model and a provider for their families.  Most work in minimum wage jobs or can’t find a job.  They ride buses everywhere, sometimes with four children.  They have been let go from manufacturing jobs that no longer exist.

I volunteer at CWJC and I have seen amazing things happen.  I have seen a homeless woman move into housing, get her GED, find her faith, get a great job and even win an award from her employer for her work.  I have seen a young unwed mother with two babies get her GED and move on to college.  I have seen women get promoted in their current jobs because they now have their GED.   I have seen a woman who was selling a homeless newspaper get new job skills that helped her find better employment.  Something transformational happens when you offer a hand-up, not a hand-out.

Marketing to Women: Pinterest Campaigns?

October 23, 2012 § 1 Comment

Pinterest has been the darling of social media lately.  I love it too.  But can you create a Pinterest campaign?  Kotex did in Israel.  Watch this video to see how it worked.

Here’s another example from Unicef.  They created a Pinterest board for a little girl in Sierra Leone named Ami Musa.  On it they pinned the aspirations for a 13-year-old on a board called “Really want these.”  Those things included food, clean drinking water and a tub.  Each pin links to a page soliciting donations for UNICEF’s work providing clean drinking water, food and shelter to children in need throughout the world.

Unicef Pinterest Campaign

Here are a few facts about Pinterest that might make you interested in doing a Pinterest campaign.

  • Pinterest hit 10 million unique monthly views faster than any site in U.S. history.
  • On average, each time a person visits the site she spends 58.8 minutes “pinning.” Facebook has an average visit time of 12.1 minutes.
  • Nearly one-third of all Pinterest users have an annual household income of $100 thousand or more.
  • Almost 70 percent are female. (Keep in mind, females control 90 percent of all household health care decisions.)
  • The largest demographic on the site are ages 25 to 34.
  • 50 percent of Pinterest users have children.

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