By Collette Dunkley, CEO of XandY Communications.
Recent research has demonstrated that women now make 85% of all purchasing decisions and are in fact the purchasing manager for most households and increasing numbers of businesses. Women make the choice on new bank accounts 89% of the time, in DIY 80%, in cars 60% and in the choice of holiday, 92% of decisions are made by women.
The importance of presenting products and services that meet women’s needs is vital, together with brand communication which fully understands the way women think and interact with communication.
Men and women think and communicate differently and have different perceptions, priorities and behavours. Biology directs us differently.
Women basically shop differently and communicate differently and quote different favourite brands and shops to men. They rely more on verbal communication with family and friends in making informed decisions about products and services. Women also consume and spend more than men over their lifetime and have a longer lifespan.
What to do?
XandY Communications segments by gender first and believes that marketing and communication plans should be re-examined to take into account behavioural differences. The one size fits all approach often does not optimise the female and male share of the market.
Women are influenced by different types of marketing and communications and there needs to be a long-term commitment to communicate better with both sexes. The answer does not lie in having ‘a women’s programme’. Women see right through token approaches or quick win campaigns. Authenticity and longevity is important.
Gender differences should be accounted for in all internal and external communications: corporate, product, brand and employer branding.
Don’t just change the media and keep everything else the same. Review the creative approach with both sexes at the concept stage, not with focus groups after the treatments are already created. Women may like the aesthetics but will it really influence their view of your brand or buying behaviour? Look at the messages. Should they differ for each sex? Probably.
Choice of media channel and investment mix will differ also with lifestyle PR and Word of mouth being highly influential. Women read different pages in national and regional newspapers to men so make sure your PR or advertising is on the right pages as well as in the right media.
More women than men are using the internet. Blogs and interactive media now play a far greater role in a women’s decision process as they look for a collaborative approach to problem solving and online communities to replace the neighbourhood interactions of old.
Examine your targeting and think about segmenting by women’s life stage.
Look at personalisation. The product itself may be of interest to men but it needs to have a lifestyle context to truly grab the interest of women.
Create word of mouth. Because women are wired to talk more and enjoy verbal communication word of mouth is very influential. Women talk and refer substantially more to each other about good and bad experiences. They listen to others opinions and so referrals are a key driver.
Draft in expertise to truly increase your female brand appeal. XandY Communications is a specialist agency that helps organisations increase their female market share and applies six years of gender science learnings to their consumer and business marketing and PR campaigns. (www.xandycommunications.com)
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