More than a decade ago ”a long time before I worked with marketers ”I participated in a focus group for a new brand of dog food aimed at senior canines.
The manufacturer was particularly interested in what women like me thought of the packaging: Did we find it appealing? Would it inspire a second look on the grocery store shelf? The pet food company sought our input, the focus group leaders explained, since it had identified women as the major purchasers of dog provisions.
Good for them for recognizing women as the target customers. In that, they were way ahead of the curve. But guess what? They fell into some tired old assumptions about packaging, and the bag was an off- putting pastel pink.
"Do women relate to the softer packaging colors?" the group leaders queried.
"Uh, no", we replied.
In Don't Think Pink , authors Lisa Johnson and Andrea Learned call this sort of obvious stereotype "pink thinking". Like that dog food company, marketers are often working from antiquated assumptions. They frequently slap pastels and flowers on packaging, or produce "lighter" versions of original products, in a quickfix effort to appeal to one of today's fastest -growing consumer segments: women.
It's true. Women spend over two trillion consumer dollars a year. Yet only a fraction of that market can name a brand that speaks to their needs.
Can you sense the opportunity?
Since you are reading this book, I'm guessing that you get what the authors mean when they say that shortsighted marketing causes companies to miss huge opportunities. Just as women's societal roles, and their effect on the economy, have greatly shifted, so too must marketing's approach to serving them.
It's not about appealing to the sensibilities of women ”those efforts only scratch the surface. It's more about designing a subtler and more sophisticated approach ”Lisa and Andrea call this "transparent marketing" ”that can truly inspire women to become loyal customers.
Is this a huge challenge? You bet it is.
But here's the good news: You've already begun. You're reading this book.
Within these pages, the authors have produced both a road map and a resource to help brands reach far beyond "pink thinking". With its accessible how-to format and to-the-point writing, this book tells you how to build cases and campaigns to better meet the needs of your women customers.
In doing so, Lisa and Andrea have not merely produced a credible text, they've also established themselves as pioneers of sorts in marketing to women. I especially love the snappy writing ”be sure to read their hilarious recipe in chapter one for "Pink Thinking Formula: "One part limited staff power and budget, two parts internal resistance to new ideas ".
Talk about a marketing Molotov cocktail.
So congratulations on accepting the challenge. Best of luck, and remember, "Think Pink".
Ann Handley, Editor in Chief, MarketingProfs.com