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The Top 6 Reasons That Businesses Must Embrace The Design Process To Effectively Market To Women.

I just watched the recently released documentary titled, Design the New Business. A big thanks, by the way, to BI watercooler for this great find!

Seven months in the making, Design the New Business,  is a collection of interviews with business and design strategists from around the world. In it, they deliberate the role that DESIGN will, or should play, as companies address today’s ever-changing and complex issues.

Want To Market To Women? This Video Is A Must See. 

Interestingly, what you won’t find in it, is the specific mention of women. But, what you will find are creative discussions and propositions that are dead on for effectively marketing to women through “creative design thinking.”

I often tout Apple™ as an example of a brand that has always done an excellent job marketing to women. Steve Jobs did not change the way we “do” things, he changed the way we “feel” about things. Through great design Apple™ appeals to our emotions.  And, I don’t believe it’s by accident that Apple™ is one of the top brands in the world, now worth more than Google and Microsoft combined, with products purchased by both women and men.

Jobs bought into the theory that uncompromised design yields value to business – long ago. For that matter, he may well have conceived it. At the very least, he has most prominently carried it out through every aspect of Apple’s business model from product development to advertising to the retail stores.

The New iPad

Throughout the entire recession, Apple™ has never succumbed to discounts, but instead continued to introduce beautifully designed products at premium prices.

So, while I don’t view design being considered in all areas of business as a “new” concept, I am more than encouraged to see international corporations discussing the implementation of “creative design thinking” into their business models.

This level of research, interpretation and emotion will get them that much closer to listening to and responding to the female audience, ultimately leading to increased revenues.

So, How Did We Get Here?

That is, why do we have to completely rethink linear business models that have been effectual in the past? I would suggest three primary causes for the multifaceted challenges that businesses face today.

  1. Web 2.0 – advancements in the Internet that have allowed for two-way conversation, giving individuals an incredibly loud voice through social networking sites that continue to explode.
  2. Female consumer – controlling or influencing 85% of all consumer brands, companies simply don’t know what to do with her and her new found voice.
  3. Economy – a recession of historical proportions that has lasted longer than anyone could have estimated leaving many industries unstable at best.

And, How Can Design Help? 

I purposely listed the economy last as a contributing factor because although the recession has certainly been devastating for business, it is expected that the market will eventually rebound.

But the new technologies within the digital world, such as social media, that have transformed and even eliminated types of businesses, are here to stay. And the female who has attained power  as a purchaser and wealth manager simply continues to strengthen.

So, even as the economy recovers, companies are still faced with the power that social media has bestowed upon people and more specifically, women. These are complex challenges, requiring non-traditional solutions.

These are the kinds of problems you cannot mange your way out of, you can only design your way out of them ~ Marty Neumeier, Director of Transformation, Liquid Agnecy

The design process is congruent with thinking like women. Such as, exploring all possibilities until discovering the perfect answer. Great design ignites an emotional state necessary to move shoppers to consumers. And if executed correctly, as we have seen with Apple,™ the men will bite too.

 

The Top 6 Reasons That Businesses Must Embrace The Design Process To Effectively Market To Women.

I encourage you to take 40 minutes to view the film in its entirety, but have extracted a few of the conversations as noted below.

1) PUSH MARKETING IS OVER

Brands can no longer just tell women what they want. Businesses must think creatively to gain the female’s trust through relationships and engagement.

I see a changing attitude towards companies in general. I have to say I look at where progressive movements are happening and there is, I’d almost say, there’s a bit of distrust when it comes to companies as organizations. It’s about credibility. It’s about being authentic. So, companies have a challenge to stay relevant in that mindset. You have to be very much aware of that type of mindset and come up with suggestions and solutions to provide value in that context. In traditional marketing speak, I think the day of push marketing is definitely over.

If you want to stay relevant, you have to be in the places where good conversations, where interactions between people is actually happening, where changes in interaction can be observed. It requires far more openness because the whole design trajectory is not as linear as it used to be. You can’t predict upfront what the end result is going to be. That is the new challenge.
Willem Boijens, Head of Research and Development, Océ

2) COMPANIES MUST LISTEN AND ADAPT

The female consumer is telling you what she wants. Businesses must think creatively to listen and interpret correctly to give it to her.

We have very close relationships with our clients and as a result we have grown to be quite adaptive. For example, we used to sell printers. Well, that’s not what they were asking for, so we started to sell prints, but that is not what they were asking for as well. So we started to give them the people who take care of their prints.

You can now go to the University of Amsterdam and see that we have a complete site of OcA, which takes care of the making and distribution of the readers that students are using. We got there by being adaptive.
Guido Stompff, Senior Product Designer, Océ

3) CONSUMERS HAVE SPECIFIC NEEDS AND LIFSTYLES

All women are not the same. Businesses must think creatively to no longer focus on her age, but instead her lifestage.

The car [Volkswagen] kind of became the symbol of a generation. But nowadays you see that more people are about having much more specific needs or lifestyles. You basically have many more different kinds of streams than you had previously. You have more and more people that are not alike anymore.”
Benjamin Schulz, Service Innovation, Volkswagen Group

We define design as something that has impact on business. We don’t look at market segments, but really try to find more patterns among several quite diverse people.”
Lukas Golyszny, Service Innovation, Volkswagen Group

4) WHAT GOT YOU THERE, WON’T GET YOU THERE

Traditional forms of reaching and connecting with women are not coming back. Business must think creatively to find and connect with her.

Big companies grow up usually with a business model that made them big. Now what is happening in a lot of industries is that those business models are expiring. The big mistake we’re making in large companies is we’re trying to use the same mindset that we applied to create our business, to create new business.”
Alexander Osterwalder, Co-Author, Business Model Generation

5) PEOPLE ARE IN CONTROL

Translation: Women are in control. Businesses must think creatively to develop relations and brand loyalty with her.

There’s been a big shift between the power to the brands to the power to the people. People today develop their own stories and publish them. The people are in control at the moment and that’s a big difference after the past few decades.

We are not in looking at a Return on Investment in a traditional way of value of money, but a Return of Investment in brand loyalty and in real connections with the audience.
Arno Wolterman, Managing Partner, Design Director, IN10

6) “SERVICE” DESIGN IS RAPIDLY BECOMING THE NEW “PRODUCT” DESIGN

Women have high expectations. Businesses must think creatively to better understand her needs and motivations to produce more user-friendly, competitive and relevant products.

The world is changing. Products and things have become all interconnected and people expect things to be interconnected. It’s not a standalone product anymore. Service design is an emerging competence that we all need to learn quicker and faster.

If you come to Philips Design five years from now, half of what we now call the product design effort is going to be reflected in at least half as much service design.
Ton Borshoom, Senior Director for New Business Development, Philips Design

The Design The New Business project was initiated and produced by Erik Roscam Abbing of the design thinking consultancy Zilver innovation and 6 students from all over the world, studying strategic design at the Delft University of Technology.

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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

Attention Male Marketers: Women Can Be Bought

Recently, I’ve received a rash of coupons in the mail. I’m not talking about the Val-Pak kind (although I do like those). I’m talking about serious discounts from specific retailers. The rundown:

Victoria’s Secret. Happy birthday to me! $10 off my in-store purchase.
Express.
$20 off my purchase. $30 if I spend $75.
Saks Fifth Avenue.
$25 dollars off my $100 purchase.

As a “recession-ista,” I’m not about to turn these discounts down. They mean I get stuff I may not have purchased otherwise. Here’s what I mean:

  • Underwear was not on my mind, but now that I can get the 5 for $25 deal for a mere $15, I decided to go ahead and make the purchase.
  • I haven’t shopped at Express in ages, but I need a new dress for the aforementioned birthday. Because of the discount, they will be my first stop. I may not buy from them, but I sure will try. I want to pay $45 for $75 worth of dress.
  • I need some MAC makeup. I had planned to go to the MAC store sometime this week, but now I’ll use the Saks coupon. I’ll probably buy more than I had intended because…well, it’s free-ish.

For the most part, I’m not altering my purchases, only WHERE and WHEN I make them. Some recent research supports my personal behavior:

Online. 68% of survey respondents said online coupons are a major factor in influencing purchases.

Mobile. 67% of heavy smart phone using women are interested in receiving mobile coupons or vouchers.

In-store. 81% percent of consumers say it’s fun to see how much they can save using a loyalty card or coupon.

Fun? That’s right, retailers. Saving has become a leisure sport.

This is a win-win situation. By offering women a coupon or discount, you are giving them a reason to visit your store. At the same time, you haven’t actually marked your merchandise down. The product retains its intrinsic value. You get more traffic and in turn build loyalty. Sunshine! Warm fuzzies all around! You get the idea.

So here’s the moral of the story: even after the Recession ends, women are going to be more cautious with their funds. As a retailer, you’d be wise to “buy” their loyalty.


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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