Thursday, February 18

Marketing To Genders: Lost In Time

"The consumer isn't a moron; she is your wife." — David Ogilvy.

The classic quote from David Ogilvy couldn't be more true today. One study, from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), concluded that women drive $12 trillion in global spending today, which is more than 70 percent of consumer dollars worldwide. The study also estimates that women will contribute an incremental $5 trillion in earnings over the next five years.

Household Responsibilities For Women.

• 88 percent say they have responsibility for grocery shopping.
• 85 percent have responsibility for meal preparation.
• 84 percent have responsibility for laundry.
• 84 percent have responsibility for cleaning.
• 77 percent have responsibility for household administration.

The Economic Shift Toward Women.

• 70 percent of mothers are already working.
• 57 percent of college students are women in the U.S. (55 percent in Europe).
• 40 percent of businesses in the U.S. are owned or co-owned by women.
• 72 percent of consumer spending will be controlled by women in 2028.
• Solely-owned women-owned businesses grow twice as fast as men-owned businesses.

And yet, marketing, advertising, and communication tends to skew masculine. (Even Verizon segments its advertising, suggesting the Palm Pre Plus is for women while the Driod is for men.)

But we're not talking about stereotype reinforcement, which tends to affect both genders. We're talking about messages that don't meet the general needs of the decision maker.

"Companies are failing to meet the needs of women in five key ways," said Michael J. Silverstein, BCG senior partner and coauthor of Women Want More. "Poor product design and customization for women; clumsy sales and marketing; inability to address the need for time-saving solutions; inability to provide a meaningful hook and differentiation, and failure to develop community."

Lynn Truong, sales director of Wise Bread, recently published a post on American Express OPEN Forum that highlights a few suggestions, with the the very first tip reminding marketers that women don't always gravitate to pink. More compelling than dissuading advertisers from painting the world pink, Truong reminds marketers that women are not part of the same audience, simply because they share the same gender.

It's a good lesson that goes beyond gender lines because in the quest to capture larger audiences, some advertisers lump too many different people into the same pool. We can no longer afford to think that men come from Mars and women come from Venus. Not only do both genders come from those planets, some come from Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury too.

Or, to end where we began: The consumer isn't a moron; she is your wife, co-worker, client, and boss.

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