Despite the fact that men and women share 99 percent of the same DNA, “There is no unisex brain,” says M. Louann Brizendine, neuropsychiatrist and author of The Female Brain. This 1 percent difference is of particular interest to scientists because it informs how each gender responds to nuances in language, emotional triggers and perceptions, among other differences. And it’s especially important for brands that depend on messaging to connect with consumers. In the absence of a clear, proven blueprint, many brands default to language and tactics clearly geared to men regardless of their intended audience. As a business owner, ask yourself: is your brand capturing the female brain?
Consider these statistics:
- Women make over 80 percent of purchasing decisions.
- 92 percent of women share brand experiences within their networks.
- Women represent over $20 trillion in global consumer spending.
Although women represent a diverse demographic, they display similar consumer behaviors that are rooted in their unique biological make-up. As a result of over 15 years of research with women audiences, our company PixInk has compiled a few guidelines for brands to use as a point of entry into the purchasing psychology of the female consumer.
In order to attract female consumers, brands must ensure they’re relevant to women’s needs. Demonstrate a clear understanding of their daily challenges and then bring viable, uncomplicated solutions to the table. One brand that does this well is Apple. It’s not surprising that moms represent the fastest growing buyers of iPhones today because Apple offers and communicates what moms care about. Instead of presenting a laundry list of iPhone’s specifications and jargon, it offers narrative marketing that features the product as the star. For instance, its “Meet Her” commercial puts iPhone in a real-life, emotionally-connecting scenario while also illustrating iPhone’s pixel quality and video conferencing capability subconsciously. Brands that emulate this show-don’t-tell approach will score big with women. The lesson for brands: don’t regurgitate your brand’s playbook. Find out what matters to women and meet them there.
Offering customization and functionality that recognizes the myriad of women’s experiences is key. Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” did well to break assumptions within the personal care industry about preconceptions of beauty. In its presentation of women at different life stages, sizes, experiences and ages, Dove demonstrated the understanding that the industry’s use of stereotypical beauty is not representative of all women.
Talk to her
Women consumers dominate the social media space and want to be engaged creatively. Ask questions and incorporate the answers into tangible solutions for women. Communicating directly to your target gives companies the opportunity to sift through feedback to learn more about how they are being perceived. If caught early, negative feedback can be smoothed over and positive feedback can spread like wildfire through social channels unique to women. Otherwise, the inverse scenario is likely to happen.
Brands must provide the platform for women to engage. Find ways to make it easy for them to find you. When our client, a national beauty brand, came to us looking for a way to target women, we developed a location-based QR Code which, when scanned, connected to an iPhone scavenger hunt app. Set on a Times Square billboard, the QR Code was the starting point for a series of strategically-placed touchpoints with more codes containing clues that ultimately led them to the New York City retail store where they were entered to win a $500 shopping spree. This lead-generation campaign designed to leverage a tech savvy female audience resulted in a 130 percent increase in customer e-mail addresses gathered for our client.
Do what she says
Encourage product development as an ongoing process. To this end, brand managers must be receptive and interpret consumer feedback as a guide to innovation. In “Women Want More,” authors Michael J. Silverstein and Kate Sayer write, “it’s not enough to incorporate ‘improvements’ that don’t actually improve anything but are intended only to make a product look different from others or appear to be changed.” Scottevest, a brand that sells travel clothing to both men and women, has taken steps to ensure consumer involvement and feedback beginning with its homepage. This is a classic example of a brand that sells products for both men and women, but offers a female-friendly online shopping experience. Its website design includes user-contributed content, fan photos, and reviews, and uses all feedback to demonstrate transparency and authenticity to consumers. It effectively communicates to women, while at the same time not targeting its products exclusively to them.
Is your brand capturing the female brain?
Consider the following questions to gauge whether your brand is relevant to women consumers:
- Does your brand fill a need or desire that women genuinely have?
- Does your brand employ women on its marketing team?
- Does your brand regularly solicit feedback from women consumers and fans and provide the platform for them to do so?
- Does your brand incorporate feedback into product design and marketing messages?
- Does your brand use campaigns geared towards men, the “unisex brain,” or to reach women specifically?
The rewards for speaking directly to women and genuinely forging meaningful connections with them are precipitous growth and unparalleled word-of-mouth opportunities. How will your company effectively capture the world’s $20 trillion consumer?
OPEN Cardmember Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa is Founder and Creative Director of PixInk, a San Francisco-based digital design microagency serving a macro niche: businesses marketing to women, who drive over 80 percent of purchase decisions. PixInk’s microagency structure works extremely well for iconic yet nimble brands such as Apple, Facebook, Oracle, Cat Footwear, Riverbed, Camel, Sephora and Picaboo, among others.
Photo credit: Thinkstock