By: Domenica Fuller
I did a lot of searching for this project. As I was researching aspirational advertising, the idea of relating to and connecting with an audience through Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs by identifying our inner wants and needs to one day become self-actualized became apparent to me. Advertisements, such as Nike’s 2012 Summer Olympics campaign of “Find Your Greatness,” or Wheaties trying to encourage people to find their inner champion are examples of this. Companies are starting to use real people to connect with individuals’ aspirational identities. Being a card-carrying member of the girls club, I started to realize that the aspirational advertisements for products I would have been using – for example Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, Special K’s ‘what will you gain when you lose’, and Under Armor’s use of real women in their ads instead of celebrities – specifically target women. Lightbulb!
In an article for Marketing Donut, experts were consulted about whether or not women and men should be marketed to differently. The consensus was: yes. Women are different from men and, therefore, they behave differently when buying goods or services.
In most households, women are now the key decision-makers. The article draws a figure that women control 80% of household income and purchase 80% of products used in as many as 85% of households. This is a huge market for companies to seemingly ignore by not catering to women’s needs and understand what she really wants.
According to the article, as much as 91% of women say that advertisers don’t understand them. Female consumers want to know what the product is going to do for them; they want a brand that acknowledges their lifestyle and needs. It is important to think of each potential female buyer as an individual and focus on her needs. This can be a risky situation though; marketers cannot simply break the population into two groups. Women are in different situations, depending on age and whether they have families; if companies focus on one group, they risk alienating large sections of the female population.
The article warns there is no one-size-fits-all guide to marketing to women, but it offers some dos and don’ts. First, companies should build relationships with those that they want to attract by gathering customer intelligence and using personalization tools to target female customers with specific messages. Second, they should avoid negative ad campaigns by giving women positive reasons to purchase the good or service. These two points are warnings to be careful to not forget that women tend to shop around and do their research and to make sure to promote every detail, such as after-sales service and warranties. Last is the most important point of all: do not stereotype women and assume what their wants and needs are. These tips can be used for a company’s entire target market, not just the female population.
The companies that I feel are best at communicating to women are beauty supply companies. Neutrogena, Clinique, L’Oreal, (the list goes on) target women’s needs by making commercials that ask women what they are looking for to make themselves more beautiful. Another advertisement that, I think, targets women’s needs is Care.com: children in the ads speak to parents everywhere who either have a lot going on and need help or who just need a night out.
There are some huge generalizations in this article. Obviously, women and men should be marketed to differently because a lot of the time, they are attracted to different products; however, I do not think it is fair to say that it is because women do more research or develop a deeper relationship with companies. It is important to understand the needs of your entire target market to attract their business and better service them. There is no one-size-fits-all guide to marketing to both genders. It is up to the company to develop products that meet consumers’ needs and market them in a way such that its target market will be unable to resist buying them.