Previous generations of women may have responded more readily to visible, or "for her," marketing efforts, because they were novel and seemed to represent a new sense of respect for gender differences. However, younger generations have now grown up in more gender-neutral worlds and so are less likely overall to respond to that approach to marketing to women.
Oatmeal for women? Whatever. Why do I need my own oatmeal? For some reason this approach really turns me off. But you know who would buy this? My mom!
”Lori T., age 28, advertising account manager
The one caveat in marketing to the younger generation is that they can always turn a stereotype on its ear and play against it just for fun. In the early 2000s, the retail marketplace went through a "pink" and "girly" craze, of sorts, in clothing, gadgets and other nonessential products geared toward younger women. This trend was almost a sophisticated embracing of the stereotypes, a sort of "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" way of responding with humor and sass to the age-old paradigm that women love things pink, feminine and flowery.
Furthermore, while some Mature generation women and even some Baby Boom women may not have previously been offended by visible campaigns , the tide may be turning. These older women's exposure to marketing messages over the years has surely made them more discriminating consumers. And, there is nothing like too-quickly adding "for women" to a product's name , or painting its package pink, to make your marketing motives suspect.
Quality, price and reputation will mean nothing if a woman can tell you slapped a "for women" sticker on the pastel version of the same old product. If you haven't developed truly gender-specific features and benefits, or conducted research into how a woman might buy the product, it will be evident to your potential customers. To keep your products and marketing authentic and integrated, you should decide whether to use the visible approach right from the beginning. Let product development in response to women's real needs dictate your sales efforts and marketing messages.
For example, if the Gillette Venus razor had not been designed specifically for a woman's body, its more feminine color and name would feel inauthentic to potential buyers , and Gillette's visible approach would have failed. As it is, the shape of the razor was designed intentionally to fit a woman's curves, so the color and name integrated well with the design and thus felt authentic.
A woman's interest in purchasing your product or service will be significantly affected by whether your brand's marketing approach is genuine , through and through, or a superficial (however sincere) effort to gain her attention. So, choose and utilize the visible marketing option with great care if you want to reach women.
Companies certainly don't set out to make products that will fail with women. Success comes by making the effort to understand the women customers you are trying to reach before you even create the product. Then, a genuine reality-based visible approach can win new customers and create new markets.
Chapter 3: Now You Don't (See "her") ”The Transparent Approach to Marketing to Women
While visible marketing certainly tells women that a specific product or service is for them (often to mixed reviews), transparently connecting with women requires a much more sophisticated method built on in-depth knowledge of your market, innovative solutions to the specific challenges of your customers and inspired choices reflecting those women's preferences. It takes more work, but transparency attracts your market, builds brand loyalty and increases sales in a way that a visible campaign can't.
Transparent marketing requires companies to go beyond making obvious and stereotype-driven changes, to truly tailoring their brands for specific markets. These programs fit women's lifestyles and reflect women's priorities in subtle and surprising ways. When you have obviously gathered information about your key women customers, and learned how and why they buy products or services like yours, women will see the relevance of your brand.
The Tale of the Tailored Suit
Have you ever chosen a business suit off the rack and felt that the fit was just somehow off? You'll recognize the experience: The label read your size , but the shoulders drooped slightly, the hips flared unattractively and the back was too full, making you look ten pounds heavier. Initially you might have thought, "I look like a cow in a suit," or just conclude that you should never shop right after lunch . But, if you were lucky (or at Nordstrom!), a sales associate quickly came to the rescue and sent in a tailor who started pinning and tucking. Within moments, the nips and tucks made you look sleeker, slimmer and more professional in that suit. The changes made the suit fit your shape like a glove, and that retailer (and that tailor) became your new best friend.
Why go into this suit story? Because, transparently reaching women is the equivalent of delivering an inspired, custom-tailored product and marketing strategy instead of a visible, off-the-rack, "for women" marketing campaign.
Believe us, women notice and invest in brands that take the time to take their measurements correctly and learn how they live and how they use the product. Custom-tailored, transparently fitted campaigns are the path to long- term brand loyalty and multiple purchases.