Men (Consumers) and Women (Consumers), are, in a word…DIFFERENT!
Oh goodness, did I really say the “D” word? Yes, I did…and I’ll say it again,
DIFFERENT! It’s not really all that scary a word and, frankly, it’s one that
marketers/retailers need to embrace, especially if it’s the key that reveals the formula to
reach consumers more effectively.
For years and, by the way…THANK YOU, ladies … women have striven to be on equal
footing with the guys and to be taken seriously. Yet, for all their passion,
perseverance, and ground gained, it is still a scales-unbalanced, male-focused/dominated
world. Truthfully, it is an ongoing movement which will take much more time, but in the
process we forget to embrace our differences as much as we acknowledge our
similarities. I believe many people would agree that similar competencies can be found
among the genders, but men and women didn’t arrive at those competencies in the same
way. And here’s where we take on the word we’ve pushed so far back – different: Men
and women truly ARE different.
Sure, we know the basic packaging is different and it’s been proven that most infants can
properly tag a male versus a female, but even babies can tell that the differences are far
more than skin deep. They may not be able to articulate or identify it, yet innately that
seem to know that women and men vary on more than just the exterior; they are
inherently and significantly biologically different from the inside out. Now, hang in there
with me guys …don’t run in fear that I’m going to launch into a conversation about
babies and birthing. What I’m talking about here is gray matter. You see, our
brains ARE different – we are wired differently. Here, let me give you a few examples.
If you believe, as I do, that marketing is often directed more toward men than to
women, you will understand, after reading some facts I’ve prepared to present to you,
that that approach can lose you too many female customers. Example: women have
some areas of the brain relative to responding to marketing cues that are more developed
than those of their male counterparts (now, I didn’t say better, just different).
Recognizing these critical areas is the key to understanding how to market to women.
Women have a larger hippocampus, the area responsible for memory, so women, more
than men, remember things (and details) whether they’re good or bad. And because
women are more likely than men to share such events, due to their inherent need to
connect and establish and nurture relationships (also more so than men), this is important
to take into account when trying to sell to a woman. Women remember (larger
hippocampus), women share (need to connect), women are loyal (need to nurture
relationships) – it’s in our makeup, it’s in our upbringing, it’s in our culture. Knowing
that is half the battle; addressing it and working your campaigns around such knowledge
is the other half.
This brings me to one of the very first projects I ever undertook as a market researcher
…tires. You might think it’s a product which is firmly entrenched in the male camp but
you’d be wrong. According to a recent article in Par Excellence magazine, women buy
68% of new cars in the U.S. and 65% of new tires. Yes, you read it, women are buying
those sexy, rewarding, and enticing things called tires and, boy, does that excite us;
nothing like a brand new pair of boots and tires to get us talking. Seriously though, if
done in the right way, it actually does.
Selling a tire in a way which evokes fond memories will not only keep women customers
but will bring in more because when a women has a good feeling, and positive memories
form, they’ll tell a friend, who will tell a friend who will (you guessed it) tell a friend.
Talk about grassroots marketing at its best.
So take a look at your local tire store, or any automotive center. What do you see? What
do you hear? What do you smell? Do you ever think of it this way? Well, let me let you
in on a little something I see … I see tires, rows and piles of them; I hear noise (think a
noisy concert of whirring power socket wrenches), and I smell rubber and grease. Now, I
realize that is the nature of the industry and I can’t expect relaxing lavender fragrance in
the air or soothing water fountains, but I can expect, and would certainly build positive
memories around a more relaxed, pleasant atmosphere.
Think about the person entering an automotive establishment. From the statistics I
quoted, you now know there’s more than a 50% chance it is a woman. But let’s go
beyond that. This woman is a mother, a caregiver, a worker or some combination of the
above. There’s more than a little on her plate and, frankly, she seeks refuge whenever,
and wherever possible, even if that means at her local tire store/car dealer/fast lube place.
Yeah, even there! She may, or may not, have children at her heels and this may be the
only spare 30 minutes in her day which are not spent at desk, stove, or washing machine.
So why not make it some of the best 30 minutes in her day? In case you’re asking
yourself “why?” it’s because she’ll remember, and she’ll tell her friends, who will tell
their friends who will tell…(you get it, right?).
I remember a large regional supermarket up north called Wegmans. Although not a tire
store it still offered a great lesson for the tire industry. Let’s take into account that
grocery shopping, similar to car maintenance, is not likely the best part of anyone’s day.
But shopping for groceries is a necessary evil. These two “chores” often fall on (yes, I’m
going to say it) the womens’ shoulders. Sure, men do both of these things but statistics
prove that women do them more…facts prove that they are more than the majority of
your customers. They need your attention and you’d be wise to honor their needs.
Wegmans gives women an out, a free pass, a moments’ peace in an otherwise crowded
place. Wegmans offers their customers not only a clean, well-lit, well appointed place
within which to shop it also offers its customers child-care. When a customer enters
Wegmans one has the option of taking the kiddos along or leaving them in a clean, fun,
well-attended area within which they can play while you shop unencumbered by little
hands and grand demands. I remember this, though I’ve since moved away from a
favorite store, but the point is…I remember this.
In the automotive world a great example is Lexus. My local Lexus dealer/service shop
offers space away from the noise, well appointed with comfy seating, a clean area (with
no automotive smells/grease) within which children can find refuge, wi-fi to allow me to
stay connected and fresh baked pastries and gourmet coffees to easy mind and nourish me
while I wait and fill the otherwise mundane moments of car repair.
So, what can the automotive industry and other historically male-dominated industries, learn from this?
Offer your customers an out, a free-pass, conveniences that will build relationships, offer support and
make the moments memorable. Consider rooms that will allow customers to relax and take a break. These
things may include child-care or just child-friendly rooms, coffee, cleanliness and quiet.
Some or all of things could help, and they certainly won’t hurt. Next time you think
about your customer…really think about what you can do to help instill positive
memories. How can you create an environment that not only keeps them but helps you
pass the word which, as you well know, will not only help you maintain a customer base
but grow it…and isn’t that the point after all?