The Hybrid Approach: Specifying For Her Within an Established Brand


The Hybrid Approach: Specifying "For Her" Within an Established Brand

There are those cases in which a new product or service line, created within an established overall brand, would benefit from calling out to women that it was developed specifically for them. Consider your local well-known bank as an example. Everyone knows "Downtown Bank" has good customer service, offering the best interest rates with free checking; but now Downtown wants to package its information and develop seminars specifically to address women's financial needs. The bank certainly wouldn't redo its logo or reposition itself to become "Women's Downtown Bank." Rather, it may develop a Web site section called "Financial Services for Women" and start offering "for women" seminars on financial planning for retirement and on gender-specific issues, such as earning less but living longer than one's male spouse.

Drugstore.com's "Healthy Woman" area is effectively womenspecific within a well-known brand. The section includes products and information on both traditional and alternative approaches to women's health, as well as a resource section, called a "Health Guide," that carries the woman-resonant tagline "knowledge is power." Items are presented in categories that speak directly to women's prime concerns, like cardio and breast health. Healthy Woman 's top ten solutions for weight loss, antiaging and more appear front and center on the home page. By delivering the products and information in ways that serve so well the buying minds of women, this visible "for women" approach within the Drugstore.com brand is getting full power from its marketing efforts.

Rejuvenating Effects toothpaste is another product representative of the hybrid approach to marketing to women. Developed as a product within Procter & Gamble's Crest line, it is promoted as the first toothpaste targeted specifically to women using the slogan , "For a radiant smile, today's new beauty secret."

In keeping with a hybrid approach, the entire Crest brand was not given a "for women" makeover. Rather, the Rejuvenating Effects product within the Crest brand is being distinctly marketed as a toothpaste that addresses a beauty concern, which is usually female -specific.

Interestingly, while Drugstore.com's Healthy Woman area packages and categorizes information and products specifically around women's health concerns, Rejuvenating Effects toothpaste is more simply positioned "for women" without containing any truly femalespecific ingredients .

A hybrid marketing approach may be a great way to test whether women are paying attention to your brand. If they do notice and respond to your visible efforts to reach them, then that may be the time to develop and launch an even more powerful transparent marketing program (see the next chapter for details).



Reality-Based Visibility

When a visible approach, either on its own or as part of a hybrid program, reinforces outdated stereotypes of women and their preferences for the sake of a marketing pitch, it will turn off both women and men alike. Talk about backfiring!

From our own conversations with women over the years , we can report that many feel an almost physical discomfort in response to a marketing effort that discounts them, pegs them as "typical" women, or mistakenly or superficially uses flowers and pastels to reach them. There are so many more exciting ways to reach women.

A good thing to consider, when assessing the value of a visible campaign for reaching your market, is how connected to a woman's specific realities (body size , shape and health) your product or service may be, and how her emotions around those topics may affect her purchase. For example, golf clubs reengineered for a woman 's smaller grip, swing and size, or specialized bike seats for women, are cases where a visible approach is the best choice.

When products like golf clubs or bike seats present an innovation for women, in an industry where the standard has been shorter or smaller versions of the men's line, a visible, women-specific campaign helps highlight the change. Your brand's new attention to a woman's specific needs for designs and features will positively influence her view of your overall brand, and guide her toward just what she seeks.

Creating visible campaigns without a strong purpose, however, can be risky. Running into a "for women" approach while shopping for a lawnmower or a PDA, for example, might feel demeaning to many. (What, the lawnmower is purple and thus built specifically "for women"?) A woman's buying mind doesn't signal that such superficially modified products are gender-specific, so a visible marketing approach would be only distracting, at best, counterproductive, at worst.

Yet, there are ways to develop and market those lawnmowers, PDAs and home electronics that will make them more loudly resonate with women and help them to be seen more clearly through a woman's buying perspective. We call that invisible approach "transparent," and will go into that more in the pages to come.