According to Forbes and CNN, women make up 50% of the population and control 80% of consumer purchasing decisions. More importantly, women now own 30% of all businesses in the United States, and this number is growing. Women directly control over $7 trillion dollars. By the year 2010, it is predicted that women will control private wealth in the amount of $13 trillion. This fantastic growth in income is changing the face of marketing. Women are being targeted. Charles Schwab, Citibank and Merrill Lynch now have marketing aimed specifically at women.
Although married couples lead the way in home buying, the number two-position is held by single women. Women buy homes. Women invest their money. Women take luxury vacations. Women buy investment properties. Ignoring the affluent female customer is a mistake that no seller can afford to make.
The psychology of affluent female customers is different than that of affluent male customers. Now do not interpret that statement to mean anything more than what it says. For ultimately, affluent men and women purchase luxury goods and services for the same reasons, which will be discussed later. What is different between men and women is the way their brains actually function. Newsweek reported that brain-imaging technology has demonstrated definite distinctions between the functioning of male and female brains. Here are some of the distinctions:
– When asked to think about nothing, women think about the word “nothing.” Men think about sex or sports.
– Men are more adept at reading road maps than women.
– Women are more adept at perceiving emotions in people’s faces.
– Women’s brains are more flexible than men’s brains. Which means that women are better at multi-tasking because they are less channeled into one way of thinking than men.
Therefore, appealing and selling to affluent women requires a different approach. This idea is confirmed by About Women and Marketing, which researched how gender responses to products, services, and advertising differ. This is what they discovered:
– The way men and women relate to computers is very different. Women see computers as tools to be used like any other appliance. Men relate to computers as they would to a personal friend.
– When making wedding plans, women focus on the venue, the music, the dresses, and the wedding rings. Men focus on the reception, specifically the food and beverages.
– Both genders like to drink beer, but tastes in beer vary according to gender. Women find the male-oriented beer commercials distasteful. Here, then, is an area that an upscale beer manufacturer might take advantage of – advertising targeted at female beer drinkers.
– When shopping for a new car, men perform their own research by reading articles and reviews. Then they go buy the one they have pre-selected. Women visit the different dealerships and test-drive the cars prior to making a decision.
– Women take their time when shopping for gifts, searching for just the right gift. Men dislike shopping for gifts for others, and pursue quick compromises.
– Women carefully select their personal physician. Men are less selective and less concerned about health issues.
– Women are more prone to buy from “green companies” than men.
– Men are interested in mastering golf so they can defeat their opponents. Women prefer to learn golfspeak prior to learning golf so that they can converse with men about the sport.
– When buying electronics, such as cell phones or computers, women are influenced more by reputation, price, and service. Men are more influenced by bells and whistles.
– When buying soap, men want anti-bacterial agents not fragrance. Women want fragrance and moisturizing agents.
– When shopping for bikes, women are more likely to buy a bicycle brand intended for men. Men, on the other hand, almost always refuse to buy a bicycle intended for women.
The above information emphasized the importance of gender differences in buying goods and services. Being aware of these differences and designing a marketing campaign for a specific audience is vital.
Another area that is vital to understand when marketing to women is their method of communicating. Women use more detailed and descriptive language, relying on qualifiers, disclaimers, apologies, and explanations. Whereas men prefer to come right to the point, which means men begin at the end. While women start at the beginning and move toward the end.
This means a marketing campaign for women should proceed logically from origin to conclusion. Additionally, research demonstrates that women dislike overly pushy and aggressive marketing. Avoid condescension when marketing to women. They immediately reject it.
When making investments, women’s attitude toward money is different than men’s. Women exhibit more caution and are uncomfortable with high financial risk. They are, however, more open to accepting investment advice from an expert. Which means women appreciate information when making investment decisions. They want to be included in the process. So rather than giving advice, the seller should make suggestions presented as responses. For example, “You asked me about whether you should sell now rather than sit tight and see what the market does. Let me give you the pros and cons of each position, and then we can discuss it.” This approach includes the female client in the decision making process.
A perfect illustration of how to appeal to the unique psychology of women is BMW. In 1992, BMW noticed an increase in women buyers, which was not BMW’s target market. Their target market was affluent men. Rather than knock on wood and hope women kept buying high-performance luxury cars, BMW took a proactive stance.
For the next two years, BMW evaluated, investigated and researched the BMW brand in relation to women. BMW examined its sales, service, customer service, advertising, dealership environment, and the BMW car itself, all from the perspective of potential affluent women customers. At the end of the study, BMW realized that women presented a vast opportunity.
BMW discovered that affluent women customers meant something else even though they used the same terminology as affluent men. When women talked about safety, they meant kid-safe vehicles with air-bags and anti-lock brakes. When men talked about safety, they meant responsiveness and handling characteristics of the car at high-speeds.
BMW also discovered that affluent women had definite ideas about what they wanted and did not want in a luxury car. When asked, women gave BMW their opinions. Men were less inclined to speak about such matters. BMW listened to their affluent women customers and made changes in the car, along with environmental changes in the dealerships and in the sales techniques of salesmen. Not only was the placement of stereo control buttons changed, but also promotional brochures. The result? More satisfied customers, male and female. Along with a 7% increase in affluent women car buyers, which was unprecedented and much higher than other car manufacturers.