How To Market To Women – 8 REALLY Easy Steps To Success

By Chia Chia Sun, - In Marketing

Picture of two women, showing how to market to women

Photo Credit: stockphotosecrets

How to market to women:

There’s a simple solution to bridge the gender divide in marketing: treat your female customer like the empowered individual that she is.

In 2002, a survey of over 1,000 women demonstrated that 91% felt that advertisers didn’t understand them.  At the time, women only represented 3% of all advertising creative directors.  In 2014, now 11% of all creative directors are female.  Yet a discrepancy still exists.  Women make the majority of purchasing and healthcare decisions so there’s still a huge opportunity to close the gap.

At Damiva, we are product and scientific innovators by training and not marketers. When we went to sell our vaginal lubricant for women 40+, we were surprised at how few communication channels exist for this large part of our population. We undertook the task of spearheading a new marketing strategy that primarily involves reaching menopausal women who have vaginal dryness, a highly taboo topic. After a lot of experimentation, we are sharing our learnings based on our mistakes and successes.

We found that the best way to approach our market was to tackle some underlying misconceptions that define our demographic.

Misconception 1: All Women Are The Same

We believe that women have more varied life experiences in many ways than men, a predominant one being that women undergo more frequent bodily and hormonal changes. These include puberty, monthly menstruation, childbirth, perimenopause and menopause. These biological experiences contribute to the diversity in women’s outlooks, activities, careers and relationships.  Men rarely experience these types of rapid hormonal changes.

Tip 1: Find a focused definition of your target market, ideally to within an 8 to 10 year age demographic

In our case, we narrowed down to an 8 year demographic of women 50 to 58 who are going through or just completed the menopausal transition.  This allowed us to focus on the media channels that are popular for women in this age group.  Although many women suffer from vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse, this starting point provides us the best place to start.

Tip 2: Consider stratifying in terms of generational profile, such as Baby Boomer (51 to 69), Generation X (35 to 50) and Millennial (18 to 34)

It’s important to recognize the differences due to generations and how each generation is influenced by historical and cultural events. If you label your organic, natural shampoo, “Shampoo unlike your mother’s,” then you are targeting millennials and potentially reducing your market drastically by eliminating the powerful (and also environmentally conscious) GenX and Baby Boomer consumers who are mothers.  Different generations use technology differently as well, for example radio, TV, or internet.

Tip 3: Define the variables around the purchase decision for your product or offering

This crucial task further narrows your market and is dependent on a number of factors such as values, ethnicity, tastes, relationships and professions. For example, mothers who are at home with young children will shop and purchase differently than a single, retired, professional. If you have a complex computer technology application offering, your demographic will be skewed toward millennials and younger GenX, as opposed to older GenX or Baby Boomers.

Another incorrect assumption that we have witnessed is that women are very different than men.

Misconception 2: Women don’t like things that men like and vice-versa

Think of your offering from both female and male perspectives of empowerment. Just as women are seeking traits and characteristic such as strength and confidence in men, men are seeking the same in women.

Tip 4: Seek venues and channels that are “out of the box” and not “traditionally female.”

The NFL has increasingly recognized women who make up 45% of the 150 million American fan base by marketing in women’s magazines.  Another example is 5 Hour Energy drink that recently advertised on ESPN college football broadcasts, highlighting their breast cancer donation campaign.

Tip 5: Create female-centred venues for your offering

The influence of women on 80% of car purchases is finally being recognized by manufacturers such as Nissan. The innovative Japanese car maker has an internal program to increase the ranks of senior management, as well as increase the number of “Ladies First” dealerships that focus on saleswomen selling to women. Other car manufacturers, including Porsche, Lamborghini, Ford and BMW, are also designing cars and interfaces that are exclusively for women.

Tip 6: Women can like as much “cheekiness” as much a men

How many women do you know who like slapstick, silly or edgy humour or just downright cheekiness? We know a lot, which is why our marketing features taboo-breaking cheeky humour, with slogans for our vaginal dryness product that include, “Feeling drier than a British comedy?” Don’t be afraid to be silly or authentic – these are themes that resonate with many women (and men) of all backgrounds and ages.

The third incorrect assumption we want to highlight is the gender bias around women being less technologically able than men.

Misconception 3: Women are not as information or tech-savvy as men

In a 2008 survey of 1,700 men and women, more women (71%) than men (60%) seek wellness information on-line.  Women also accounted for 58% of on-line purchases in 2012. The dominance of social media and on-line purchasing by women has enabled many start-ups (including ours) to gain global branding quickly.

Tip 7: Ensure that your marketing, design and social media have a “female” side.

Unless your offering is exclusively targeting men, it is important to ensure that your marketing and design are neutral and attractive to women.

Avoid the “pink tax” that is a short-term marketing ploy in which women’s razors and other personal care products are priced higher than men’s. It won’t engender respect in your brand if you make the same product for men and women but simply price the “pink” one higher. Also avoid gender-biased products such as Suntory’s new “Precious” collagen beer, which is receiving backlash as a beer for women that is designed to make women more attractive to men.

Tip 8: Make your on-line forum content-rich

We probably didn’t need Wharton’s research study to tell us that in stores, women shop first (i.e. gather information, review and compare), while men buy first. Testimonials or references on your website coupled with deep content will assist in the purchasing decision.

Women already hold the check book in terms of purchasing power and decision-making. In building your brand – whether female-focused or not – if you keep in mind the diversity, empowerment and purchasing power of women, we’ll bet on you to succeed.

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Entrepreneur in women's health, taboo abolisher and lover of challenger brands

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