Think Pink (Marketing to Women)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Men may be from Mars, but smart marketers now know that it is the species from Venus that calls the shots in purchase decisions...

The year was 1929. The man was called Edward L. Bernay, considered by many as the father of public relations. The Easter parade was about to be staged on Fifth Avenue. This was also the era when women did not smoke much in public. Before the parade, Bernay alerted the newspaper that women would be smoking in public to promote ‘equality of sexes”. Suddenly, everyone was excited & wanted to cover the event. What Bernay told no one was the simple fact that he had been paid for this effort by American Tobacco, the maker of Lucky Strike in their effort to encourage women to smoke. It was one of the most famous marketing moments of its time.

Recently Dell’s marketing representatives met Oprah and showcased their products on her show. Its Pocket DJ and 30 inch LCD TV featured on Oprah’s Favourite Things 2004 shopping list. About 70% of Dell’s plasma sets were sold in weeks after the list appeared on Oprah’s show. Twenty years ago, probably women were just considered as “add-ons” by marketers, with no major decision making roles. A recent survey in America revealed that women now account for $55 billion of $96 billion consumer electronic market (in 2003). With more and more women joining the workforce their purchasing power and decision making power both are increasing. What’s interesting is 25% of these women make more money than their husbands or boyfriends. So marketers are now being forced to give them a long hard second look and formulate plans and strategies to rapture this fast growing market.

Pretty in Pink

Women today are buying more electronic gizmos than men. What were earlier referred to as “boy’s toys” are no more the sole domain of men. Companies are going back to their design tables; reworking and revamping their products as they get to know the female consumers better. Gone are the days when Gillette wanted to target their razors to women, they just colored them pink. Today, that’s not enough. A woman knows what she wants and if you want the green bucks to keep coming, you gotta give her what she wants. No wonder Camel cigarettes are now available in packages of hot pink fuchsia and minty green. They know their customers would “walk a mile for a Camel” (the famous tag line of Camel cigarettes). They also know many of them would be wearing stilettos!

Women are different & the one who recognizes that faster, benefits the most. As someone said, “When women are depressed they eat or go shopping. Men invade a country. It’s a whole different way of thinking.”

When the Lancer group of Canada wanted to market their luxury condominiums, they included things like a walk in closet, a laundry room, plenty of counter space in the bathroom for make up. What they didn’t include was a giant wide screen television. Their target was single women aged 21-45 years who were bothered about various other details of the house and definitely did not value a giant TV screen. Today marketers are getting into the skin of a women to understand what she actually wants and desires. One of them did what no one had done before. Kevin Burke, father of lucid marketing which specialises in marketing to moms actually wore a thirty three lbs pregnancy suit for nine months just to understand how a woman felt the experience. He sure was very serious about marketing to women! Tetley, Canada, has a created a special online site “Music Lounge” where women can download free songs for their digital music players and computers – basically they get to chill out the ‘Chai’ (Tea).

Diamonds no longer a women’s best friend

With more and more women on the streets, driving their own cars, the hottest selling gadgets seems to be the GPS tracking system. Most of these navigation devices are being bought by women. About 55% of GPS customers are women. Not just this, even car manufacturers are seeing a rise in the women customers. Hyundai Motors India Ltd has announced special loan schemes to lure the women. ‘Santro’ and ‘Getz’ are being portrayed as women friendly cars.

Harley Davidson, long a symbol of male pride launched a web site dedicated to women motorcyclists. They figured out that 10% of all the Harleys sold in 2003 were bought by women, as compared to just 2% in 1985. Back in India too, the two wheeler marketing segment is seeing a lot of action. Hero Honda has launched its ungeared scooter targeting the young women. Not just this, they have even launched a retail initiative called “Just for Her”. These women- only showrooms would be used to distribute its scooter “Pleasure”.

TVS has come out with accessories specially designed for the female rider and even an exclusive website Scootygals.com to sell this new accessory range. For bike manufacturers, the real growth lies in targeting the female users. The customer is the Queen for them! Women are a rapidly growing consumer force. If you are not including them in your marketing plan, you are putting your business at a disadvantage. When Home Depot (one of the largest retail chains of US) realised that most of the people who purchased a home in 2003 were women, they immediately included them in their business plans. Home Depot now regularly organizes classes targeted to women where they learn to use power tools, lay laminate floors and paint their own houses!

Ipod decided it was time to time to introduce iboxes for women too! Bharti Cellular has now a “Ladies Special Plan” which allows them to receive special beauty and lifestyle tips & also gives them special discounts on subscriptions of magazines like Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping, among others.

The new single woman

Today many women are choosing to stay single and are loving their independence, both emotional & financial. Marketers everywhere are doing whatever they can to attract this segment. New products & services are springing up to cater to this solo-lifestyle, like ready-made foods, investment services etc.

UTI has launched a Mahila Unit Scheme exclusively for women investors above 18 years of age. Indian Bank has introduced a loan scheme called “Swarna Abharna” to help women buy gold ornaments. Women live longer than men & insurance companies are leveraging it. They are coming out with policies to target this new independent woman. Working women need a smart wardrobe. They no longer want to wear pants designed for men. So brands like Allen Solly, Wills Lifestyle etc. have come out with a range of clothes to suit the tastes of this woman.

TV channels too have realised that it’s the woman who controls the remote. So she is the target for most of their programming. Women are from Venus About 80% of all household purchases are done by women. She is the “family’s purchasing officer”; she is shaping up the new retail trends. Thanks to their expanding purse-strings, they are changing trends. Women spend differently from men. They spend more on “home-improvement” goods and luxury, designer goods. Today’s woman is ready to spend more on a product if it makes her life more convenient. She doesn’t mind spending on a Jacuzzi for those few moments when she can actually relax. She doesn’t mind paying a premium price for an oven if it cooks meals faster & gives her more time with her family.