In honor of Women’s History Month, we’d like to share a few thoughts on marketing to women. Women are not a niche market. They are the market. Today, 85% of consumer purchases in the U.S are made by women.1 A whopping 80% of women make the decisions when it comes to health care.2 Even in traditional “male” domains like financial and retirement planning, women are rapidly gaining ground. Among married women who are their household’s primary breadwinner, for example, 65% say they “take control” of these areas.3 Reaching this audience requires more than superficial changes to your communications – e.g., altering colors or photos. It means really appealing to women’s interests and identities, their life stage, even the way they like to interact.
Should women be approached differently than men?
While some may bristle at this notion, finding it patronizing, it’s hard to dismiss the whole Mars-Venus thing. Fidelity Investments, which is run by Abigail Johnson, has found that women are more likely than men to seek outside input and want to know what a service will really mean for them. As a result, Fidelity is now looking to its customer service reps to connect with women in a way that will resonate more, meaning they’re more likely to “chitchat to establish rapport. And they frame conversations around her longer-term goals or the important people in her life.”4 Similarly, new research has found that financial advisors are much more likely to create a satisfactory relationship with women if they create “a safe space for questions and candid answers.”5 Makes good sense to us. As a bonus, if you meet the higher customer service and information-seeking standards of women, you might please your male audience, too.
Closing the confidence gap.
As women take a more prominent role as consumers of financial services, it’s up to the industry to make them feel comfortable. Prudential’s 2014–15 study, Financial Experience & Behaviors Among Women, revealed that there is still a significant “confidence gap.” While 75% of women said it was very important to have enough money in retirement and 66% said the same about keeping pace with rising health care costs, only 14% and 9%, respectively, were confident they would meet those goals. These results underscore the need for marketers to educate consumers, simplify the complex and build confidence.
Why you should “match the market.
” Despite all the market influence that women wield, 90% say advertisers don’t understand them.6 And no wonder. Only 3% of ad agency creative directors are women.7 If the market is women, it stands to reason that companies (and their agencies) would be more effective if their employee make-up matched that market. Research from the Center for Talent Innovation has borne this out, finding that individuals are “better attuned to the unmet needs of consumers or clients like themselves. Indeed, their insight is critical to identifying and addressing new market opportunities.”8
Male or female, know your audience.
In the end, it all comes down to marketing basics really. If your audience is from Venus, make sure you’re not talking like a Martian. If you know what motivates women – what their passions are, how they spend their time, who they listen to – you’ll be effective at creating messages that resonate with them. Do you feel like your messages could be connecting more strongly with women? Give us a call you will be glad you did. 203-483-4598. Ask for Sally on extension 307.
1 She-conomy. 2 U.S. Department of Labor, December 2013. 3 Financial Experience & Behaviors Among Women, 2014–15 Prudential Research Study. 4 “Financial Advice by the Demographics,” The New York Times, February 20, 2015. 5 “The Financial Services Industry’s Untapped Market,” Harvard Business Review, December 8, 2014. 6 “Where are all the women creative directors?,” Fast Company, February 26, 2013. 7 Ibid.