I talked with Marti Barletta, president of the TrendSight Group who specializes in marketing to women, about what marketers get wrong when they try to sell to women. It's an important topic -- women control 80 percent of household spending, which will become even more important in the lean times we may be facing.
1. They Don't Tell a Story
Women respond to characters and human beings, not price points and product features. "Making it personal is more important to appealing women," says Barletta. "They get impatient with theory. They want to know how it affects people." She points out the vast difference in magazines targeted at women, which are filled with stories of people, and magazines targeted to men, which tend to focus on more on gadgets and workout tips. For marketers, this means that it's not enough to simply show a television, give the price and screen size, and wait. Instead, you need to show the family gathered around the television, how it creates a moment for the family to be together.
2. They Don't Use Faces
According to Barletta, studies have shown that women are much more adept than men at reading facial expressions. This translates into a real need to make sure that every pitch and appeal to female consumers has a face attached to it. For too many years, for instance, car commercials focused entirely on the machine, and not on the humans behind the wheel. "Women are interested in people and character," says Barletta,"and you can really only convey that through faces." Smart marketers will always focus on the people using the product more than the product itself.
3. They Fail to Differentiate Women
Barletta points to how politicians every election cycle seem to pick one group of women -- be it a soccer mom in 2000 or a security mom in 2004 -- and assume all women think the same way. Market segmentation exists just as strongly within the female market. Knowing that your target demographic is a single woman isn't enough, says Barletta. She could be anywhere from a young, urban twentysomething professional to a working single mother to a widowed woman in her fifties. Marketers too often can't see the trees for the forest.