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Guys, When Marketing to the Female, Don’t Dumb it Down for Women, Man Up For Men

Kathy Oneto, Vice President of Brand Strategy at Anthem Worldwide will be speaking at the M2W (Marketing to Women) Conference in Chicago in late April. You do not want to miss it. She will be presenting findings from a study recently conducted by Anthem about:

Marketing to the True Motivations of 3 Genrations of Women

Below is one of the thought provoking papers she has drafted from the findings, titled “Who’s ‘Manning’ the House: Bridging the Gender Divide,” that she was willing to share exclusivly with us. In it Kathy explores the possibility that to solve the problem of marketing to women, just might require “reframing” the problem.  That is, marketers must understand what actually motivates the female purchaser. The study revealed:

  • 86% of women believe that women should be able to pursue their own personal motivations and be able to make their own choices and not be judged by them.
  • 60% of women believe that marketers don’t accurately represent women of today.

In speaking with Kathy, she suggested, “To market to women could mean including men. Instead of dumbing products and messages down for women – man up for men. Make housework a man’s job”

I love her direction here.  Read on for more insight. You just might be surprised to find what does motivate women.

Who’s ‘Manning’ the House: Bridging the Gender Divide

by Kathy Oneto, Vice President, Brand Strategy at Anthem Worldwide

It’s often debated who does more in the household, the woman or the man, but it’s not often reported why that is the case. Plus, most marketers simply focus on women because they control the majority of household spending. That says something in and of itself, but I wanted to know more – what might be causing the gender divide at home and what does it mean for marketers?

Despite news over the years that men have taken a more significant role in the household, women still do the majority of the work.

In 2008, Lisa Belkin reported in The New York Times that couples rarely shared housework work, regardless if they both worked or not. She interviewed Sampson Lee Blair an associate professor of sociology at the University at Buffalo who studies the division of labor in families who found that the workload remained at two-to-one, women to men, regardless of income.

Finally, The Shriver Report in 2009 found that 55% of women and 28% of men strongly agreed that women take on more responsibilities for the home and family when both work.

And why is that? A key factor is socialization.

A February 2011 study by Oxford University studied women and men’s household roles across multiple countries, including the United States, and showed that men are unlikely to fully share the work until 2050, nearly 40 years from now. Why this view? Because household chores are still broken into “women and men’s work.” Cultural attitudes, social policies, and social teaching still emphasize women’s role in the household.

But, come on ladies, we have to admit that those aren’t the only reasons for this continued inequality. There are some of us who actually enjoy cleaning, cooking, and taking care of the kids and value our role in the household. We actually want to exhibit some traditional ideals of the mom we grew up with. Plus, how many of us sigh and simply do the job ourselves because others just can’t meet our high standards and do it the way we want?

That’s what we discovered in a survey we conducted. We found:

  • 74% of women (and 80% of Generation X women) are actually motivated to make sure the household runs smoothly
  • 40% of these women also said that they found it hard to give up their standards for housework
  • 57% of women with children said they found it hard to accept how others care for their children when it differs from how they’d do it.

Belkin, along with other experts in the field such as Gail Collins who wrote, “When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present,” have reported similar findings.

That is, that women find it hard to compromise their standards.

In Advertising Age’s report, “The Realities of the Working Woman,” they also reported that women want acknowledgement of traditional values and being a mother and homemaker. Paco Underhill in his famous, “Why We Buy,” describes a wonderfully hilarious scenario in which after multiple attempts of having her husband pick out a selection of meat, the wife simply gave up and made her own choice.

To be fair, men have taken on a more prominent role in households and today have deeper relationships with their children than past generations. At the same time, the facts show that women’s role in the household has not shifted quite as much, even though more of them have taken on roles outside the home over the last four decades. Women could potentially resolve this by lowering their standards or delegating more, but that’s easier said than done. While it’s possible, it’s more likely that women will continue the juggling act of balancing demands on her time, while meeting her own standards and fulfilling her own motivations.

So, what does this mean for women and marketers?

First, instead of continuing to debate the matter on who’s doing more at home, consider how to help women meet their standards and deliver on their motivations to help the household run smoothly.

At the same time, with women busier than ever, convenience is paramount; efficacy delivered conveniently is the winning formula. Even better, perhaps marketers could actually resolve this for both men and women, bridging the gender divide.

Marketers could find that efficacious, convenient solutions work with men, as well, helping them easily do the work and deliver the results his partner desires.


Take Swiffer®. They seem to have the right winning combination – efficacious solutions that are fast, fun, and easy to use. Plus, they offer technology and “tool-like” components that can appeal to men’s “Tim the tool-man”-side and look nothing like what his mom might have used. Solutions that bring all that together just might make men more apt to help out around the house.


Another example, this time in the kitchen, is Oxo kitchen “tools you hold on to.” They also bring this winning trifecta – products that work really well, are easy to use, and have a tool-like industrial design that is gender-neutral and fits into any kitchen.


Finally, consider Dyson, the “never loses suction” vacuum cleaner, that brings innovative design and efficacy to a household job that can cause unnecessary conflict in the home.

Household solutions that give her what she wants and also helps him do his part might actually bring some harmony to the home.

Could be a lot for a brand to deliver, but if brands can claim to offer happiness, why not a bit of couple’s therapy through the help of household solutions that help them balance all the demands while also meeting her goal of having the household run smoothly?

For marketers, the answer may just reside in resolving this conflict for both parties.

Again, to hear more findings from this astute study, Oneto will be speaking at the M2W Conference in Chicago, April 24-25.

Kathy Oneto is Vice President of Brand Strategy at Anthem Worldwide where she leads client and brand engagements across a range of industries from consumer packaged goods to retail to technology. Kathy frequently writes on the topic of women, having recently published a white paper, “Today’s Women: Newfound Power, Persistent Expectations.” Kathy graduated from the University of Virginia with a BS in Commerce and has an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

Marketers: Are You Ignoring The Once, Highly Sought After, Female Baby Boomer?

According to eMarketer, boomers, whose median age is 55, spend more time and money online than any other demographic. Yet, this market is essentially neglected by most advertisers and marketers.

It is estimated that 78.2% of this cohort, or nearly 60 million adults, is online. Even as their numbers decline, that penetration rate will remain high through 2015. And they control more than $2 trillion in annual spending.

“The baby boomers grew up being chased by marketers and advertisers that tailored products and brands to appeal to them,” said Lisa E. Phillips, eMarketer senior analyst “Now the median age of this cohort is 55, and many boomers feel as if they have dropped off many marketers’ radar.”

This is not new, news to Marti Barletta.

She has been shouting the neglect of the baby boomer market for quite a while.  Actually, she talks specifically about the “lifestage” they happen to be moving through and she zeros in on the segment of boomers who not only have the money, but control the spending. She calls them “PrimeTime Women” and authored a book titled the same.

Barletta emphatically states that women currently in their “PrimeTime” are the healthiest, wealthiest and most active, educated and influential generation of women in history.

I purchased PrimeTime Women a couple of years ago at the Marketing to Women Conference in Chicago and still refer to it all the time.  Realizing that the female boomer is your market is of no value – unless you are saying what she wants to hear.

Below are just a few nuggets from PrimeTime Women to help you better understand who she is:

  • She is happier and more content and possesses a brighter, more optimistic disposition than Generation X and Generation Y women.
  • She has a newfound sense of freedom to be herself.
  • She is not just active, she’s a bit of an activist.
  • She will go out of her way to buy from companies who are environmentally conscious.
  • She knows how to handle unexpected turbulence and how to get around obstacles in ways that younger women have yet to figure out.
  • She feels her greatest achievements lie ahead of her.
  • In most instances, using conventional celebrity advertising to reach PrimeTime Women won’t work. Consumers in PrimeTime have less of a need to aspire up and impress others and are no longer as driven by materialistic values such as fame and fortune. That is not to say that all celebrity usage is ineffective, but there is a different dynamic. Instead, they are drawn to people they already do like those who are approachable.
  • PrimeTime women have many things that they care about more than when they were younger. For example:
  1. Family and personal legacy
  2. Time to finally do something for themselves without feeling guilty
  3. Milestones are key triggers in the decision making process
  4. Experiencing life to the fullest

If you recognize the female boomer as a viable market and want to connect with her effectively, I highly suggest you purchase your own copy of PrimeTime Women.

If you’re still not convinced, I suggest you RUN get a copy.


Stephanie Holland is President and Executive Creative Director for Holland + Holland Advertising, Birmingham, Alabama. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email

Is the Auto Industry a Woman’s Nation?

As you know, I closely followed Maria Shriver’s special report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything, on NBC this past week. Among other topics related to females, Shriver discussed how women’s purchasing power affects bottom line. Sounds like She-conomy, right?

Jody DeVere, who I met on Twitter and got to know even better at the 2009 Marketing to Women Conference in Chicago, created www.AskPatty.com, a safe environment for women to get automotive advice tailored to their needs. She’s been following California’s first lady too. In fact, Jody was invited to be on the panel of a live blogger podcast for the online launch of A Woman’s Nation. It’s a privilege to host her as a guest blogger.

jody-devere_webs300_4431Guest Blogger: Jody DeVere,  CEO and President of AskPatty.com

As a She-Conomy reader, I’m sure you know that women control 85 percent of all brand purchase decisions. Believe it or not, that number holds true when it comes to cars.

Women influence more than 85 percent of all automotive sales in U.S. households.

Beyond the initial purchase of a vehicle, women comprise 50-65 percent of the customer base at service centers and buy 60 percent of all passenger tires. According to the Yankelovich Monitor, even though females are the majority of the market, 74 percent say they feel misunderstood by automotive marketers.

Bottom line: women say the experience of visiting an automotive retailer is akin to having a tooth pulled. I’m convinced this is a result of the disproportionately low number of females who work in the auto industry.

For example, the promotion of Susan Docherty to General Motors’ top U.S. sales position last week marks the first time a woman has held that position in the automaker’s 101-year history. Docherty’s promotion means she will become the first and only woman on CEO Fritz Henderson’s newly formed nine-person executive committee. Susan is now the highest ranked woman working at an automaker. Congratulations, Susan! (It’s about time, GM!)

Although this is a reason to celebrate, Susan is only one of the 13 percent of women top executives in the auto industry. That statistic stands in staunch contrast to findings on overall employment listed in the Shriver report. “For the first time in our history, half of all U.S. workers are women. Mothers are the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of American families,” it states. So why are there so few females in leadership positions?

Unfortunately, in the past five years I have witnessed several top automaker executive women leave for non-automotive industries.

To combat their low representation, women’s automotive associations and organizations have sprung up or grown tremendously. Scholarships to fund programs for women seeking automotive careers in various roles are growing. Still, less than 1 percent of all National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence certified technicians are women. In new car dealerships, women are about 20 percent of the overall employee count and only 7 percent are working in front-line management, sales or service advisor positions. Less than 7 percent of new car dealerships are woman-owned and operated.

Automotive retailers frequently ask me how they can find and hire more women.
They tell me women just aren’t applying for the positions and they want to hire more females. The answer is simple. It starts with creating a culture where women customers and potential employees feel safe and comfortable. Offering not only full time employment but flexible work place policies such as part time, work-at-home, team selling, job sharing for everyone not just women will increase your odds of hiring more women. After all, work/life balance is an issue for everyone.

To become an “Auto Industry Women’s Nation,” the high percentage of men at the helm need to grasp that women consumers hold the automotive purse strings. They need to work to create a culture that embraces female employees, create an environment where women feel comfortable spending their dollars and reach them with advertising campaigns that are “spot on.”

I strongly recommend automotive retailers address their female audience or lose market share to competitors who are speaking to the rapidly changing landscape and purchasing power of women. ~ Jody DeVere

Thank you so much Jody for your  helpful insight into these automotive related issues. And just to recap, I have highlighted several of the significant statistics below.

Female purchasers in the car industry:

  • Women influence more than 85 percent of all automotive sales in U.S. households
  • Women comprise 50-65 percent of the customer base at service centers
  • Women buy 60 percent of all passenger tires
  • 74 percent of women say they feel misunderstood by automotive marketers

Female employment:

  • For the first time in history, half of all U.S. workers are women
  • Only 13 percent of top executives in the auto industry are women
  • Less than 1 percent of all National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence certified technicians are women
  • In new car dealerships, women account for about 20 percent of the overall employee count
  • Only 7 percent of those working in front-line management, sales or service advisor positions are women
  • Less than 7 percent of new car dealerships are woman-owned and operated
Data Sources: •M2W Fast Facts: http://m2w.biz/fast_facts.php •Road & Travel Female Buyer Study: http://www.roadandtravel.com/company/marketing/femaledemo.html •National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence http://www.ase.com/ •National Automobile Dealers Association http://www.nada.org/Publications/NADADATA/ •National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence http://www.ase.com/ •Tire Review Magazine http://tirereview.com/ •Forbes Auto ‘Most Influential Women in the Auto Industry’ http://www.askpatty.com/page.php?ID=1701Title=AskPatty


Stephanie Holland is President and Executive Creative Director for Holland + Holland Advertising, Birmingham, Alabama. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email