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Why it pays to make your marketing and advertising more female friendly

The illusion: young, skinny, straight, white...
The illusion: young, skinny, straight, white...

You want big markets, right? So why are you ignoring, or barely recognizing, the biggest market: women. Statistics Canada tells us that, effective October 2006, there were 32,623,000 people in Canada. 16,155,000 were male, 16,468,000 were female. But that doesn’t really tell the story, because the truth is women make – or strongly influence – about 75% of the buying decisions in the home.

What does this mean? It means that marketing aimed at men is not going to resonate with women – and you are going to lose sales. It also means that you are going to be in trouble if the people doing your marketing are male “white hairs” who view everything through an aggressive-is-good, testosterone-soaked eye glass.

Test: can you tell immediately whether an ad is female skewed (meaning the targeting, messaging and imagery is all designed to attract women?). It is easier than you think – once you know what to look for.

See how the Mythical Female is used in
television commercials for Korean Airlines.

...the reality: all ages, all sizes, all sexual preferences, all races.
...the reality: all ages, all sizes, all sexual preferences, all races.

Please don’t make the insulting assumption that you can make your marketing female friendly by adding a photo of a woman or by using the color pink generously.

Start by understanding that women have a different life experience than men, they have different values and they view different media. Witness the massive success of Oprah, who built a billion-dollar empire by being among the very first to program for women. Same for shows like The View. Do women want value? Absolutely. What matters is what you bundle with the value proposition.

Go to the mall and watch women shop. It’s nothing like men, who strive to hunt down and find what they want – fast. Women enjoy the shopping experience – sometimes even more than the actual purchase. And the shopping is not just a visual experience. It is a tactile experience, so a woman doesn’t just want to see the garment, she wants – needs – to touch it.

Want proof that female friendly marketing works? Take a close look at your LCBO outlet – once the exclusive home of men, who were forced to make purchases by filling out a form and handing it to a clerk who retrieved the order from a warehouse hidden behind the counter. Only men purchased alcohol, and women were happy to let them do it because the entire experience was not female friendly. Now look at the typical LCBO outlet – big aisles, soft lighting, pastel colors, convenient, pre-cooled wine counters. Was this all done for men? No, it was done to make the LCBO female friendly. And now women account for more sales than men.

If a big portion of your market is women (and you are not a woman), do some “homework by watching Oprah and The View for a week. It will change forever how you view the giant – and highly lucrative – female market.