Women are intelligent and influential consumers. According to a recent study on spending, women account for over $31.8 trillion in global spending. Women control more than 85% of purchases across many categories in the US alone.
If you have not carved out a brand and marketing strategy targeting the world’s largest consumer demographic, you could miss significant growth opportunities.
The good news is that you’re not yet too far behind your competitors. Many small business advertising and marketing tactics remain stuck in the old paradigm. Marketers and consumer-driven businesses still think marketing to women is as simple as slapping pink on everything and calling it a day.
You can differentiate from competitors by doing things differently. Here are five ways to market effectively to women:
1. Understand the psychological profiles of women
Recent research reveals that only 37% of Americans (and only 29% of women) believe that women are accurately represented in ads.
Most small businesses adopt a sledgehammer approach to their target audiences. But, there is no one-size-fits-all persona that works for the female demographic.
Some women are driven, optimistic, and active, while others are more nurturing and conservative. Similarly, while some women are open, social, and outgoing, others are loners, uncertain, and constantly stressed.
Market research is essential to your strategy. Start by gathering data from race, age, background, industries, and interests.
Once you gather that data, evaluate how demographic differences impact your marketing campaigns or strategy. For example, men and women process information differently and don’t respond similarly to identical marketing tactics or strategies.
Both men and women respond well to storytelling in marketing. But, how you tell stories in your marketing campaigns makes a difference. Men react to factual information and data, while women find a combination of comprehensive data with emotional connections more compelling.
Companies must find the right balance because women purchase over 50% of traditional “male” products. In fact, even in industries that people traditionally think are male dominated, women are influential consumers. Cannabis businesses, for example, can grow faster by cultivating a female-friendly cannabis brand.
The differences in how men and women react to marketing are significant, especially if you’re starting a business and figuring out your target audience for the first time. Your company’s visual identity is just forming, and if you assume that all of your prospective customers are the same, you’re more likely to make bad choices when branding and marketing.
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2. Avoid stereotypes
According to an advertising study by Cannes Lions:
- Female characters are four times more likely to be shown in revealing clothing than male characters (10.8% compared with 2.2%).
- Female characters are nearly twice as likely to be shown as partially nude than male characters (8.1% compared with 4.5%).
- More female characters are shown as visually objectified than male characters (1.8% compared with 0.6%).
- Female characters are also more likely to be verbally objectified than male characters (1.2% compared with 0.2%).
This is just one of the many problems with perpetuating stereotypes.
No marketing persona should be just “a woman.” Moreover, “a woman” should not just be defined by her sex appeal.
Savvy marketers and small businesses would benefit from educating themselves on antiquated and sexist types of advertising to avoid using these tropes and narratives in their campaigns.
You can’t create a singular message and expect it to resonate with all women, as was commonly done in the past. Today, marketing to women is less about gender and more about being human and prioritizing people.
And remember that women are not a homogenous group. For example, single women in their mid-20s from a small town in North Dakota will differ from the same demographic in New York. You shouldn’t market to both groups the same way because their needs, priorities, relationships, and attitudes are different.
Nor can you assume that the same messaging will work for women of all ages. Women’s perspectives change as they become older.
3. Embrace inclusivity
Don’t try to appeal to just one type of woman when marketing to women.
Inclusive marketing is about embracing everyone in your demographic, including those who identify as women. Many female-identifying individuals have broken the social constructs, and definitions have shifted. The days of the one-dimensional woman trope are over.
Women appreciate, trust, and support brands and businesses genuinely recognizing this change. That’s one reason why Rihanna’s Fenty grew so quickly. By executing an inclusive brand strategy, the company appealed to women of all ethnicities and body types.
Acknowledge and respect diversity
Women are as diverse a group as they come. Take time to develop who you are targeting. Are you marketing to 30-something moms who are also taking educational courses? Are you speaking to empty nesters looking to redefine this new phase in their lives? Can trans women also access your products and services?
Specific, accurate, and well-defined personas will help you be more effective in your communications. The more your brand acknowledges and caters to the nuances within your target market, the more seen your target audience will feel.
And in return, they will appreciate the respect you afford them and may choose your brand, service, or product for that very reason.
Don’t be afraid to challenge female taboos
Being inclusive in your messaging also means covering or challenging normally taboo or sensitive topics that women deal with in the real world.
Even today, marketing mostly ignores “un-sexy” female topics like periods, aging, hormonal imbalances, menopause, childbirth, and breastfeeding.
Brands and businesses who want to challenge and normalize taboos can try “focusing on the positive,” even while acknowledging the awkwardness. You can avoid alienating your audiences by encouraging an open, honest, safe, and welcoming community.
This is especially crucial because a wave of female entrepreneurs are taking on these taboos head-on.
These brands cater to the practical but often-ignored needs of women, from booby tape to breast pumps to menstrual cups.
A new generation of women has broken through social stigmas, and they’re a demographic that is ripe for the picking. And if your business or brand fails to identify and understand them, you could be limiting the growth of your business.
While there is no silver bullet approach to marketing to women, your responsibility is to embrace diversity, inspire belongingness, and be as inclusive as possible.
4. Build community and trust
Social proof is a powerful marketing tool. So, how do you get women to align and be loyal to your brand? Invite them.
Businesses and marketers whose strategies foster trust and build communities likewise inspire loyal customers.
Communities encourage rapport, and rapport is a foundation of influence. It’s why 38% of moms are more likely to purchase from brands “liked” by other women.
5. Tell women’s stories
One of the most straightforward, sensible, and overlooked marketing strategies is telling women’s stories.
Make an effort to integrate women’s stories into your campaigns and strategies. This helps your brand authentically represent and connect with women in and outside your target customer base.
Let women know that you are paying attention
Making your brand accessible to women is offering something that addresses their needs. This lets them know that your brand is paying attention.
Women deal with challenges, triumphs, and tribulations. However, their experiences are rarely discussed or highlighted.
So if you want broader reach and brand awareness, showcase stories of women across all different races, demographics, and socioeconomic statuses.
Talk about the benefits
When telling a story, focus on the benefits. Telling a good story involves showing how your product improves peoples’ lives.
Avoid technical details that drone on and detract from the benefits.
How you tell stories is important because women’s discovery begins with research. Most women like learning about products before they purchase anything. They believe that knowledge saves them time and money.
Smart business owners and marketers can leverage this buying behavior. Create marketing content with clear information on product features and benefits. And don’t forget to include emotional connections beyond features and benefits.
Stop relying on “pink” as a marketing strategy
Painting your brand or products pink is not the best way to attract female customers. This time-worn and lazy marketing tactic will most likely result in a backlash.
Instead, create marketing messages and campaigns that resonate with a targeted female audience. Understand that marketing to women is not solely about advertising to a gender.
Advertising to women requires more than stock images of women with your company logo or product photo.
Instead, explore the real issues women face. Use this knowledge to promote awareness and change. Women consumers want to be seen and be offered genuine solutions that speak to their needs.
It’s not the product – it’s the content of the message that makes branding, strategy, or a campaign effective when marketing to women. To grow your business faster with female consumers, you must evolve your marketing strategies and tactics to resonate better with this influential demographic group.
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