By Brenda Laguarta
Ah, it’s a question that has been asked ABOUT women (or for women?) for a long time, dating back to when fathers asked boyfriends about their intentions for their daughters long before a marriage proposal was discussed.
But today it seems that it is the women asking themselves questions.
The more we get to talk with women about different companies’ or brands’ efforts to appeal to them, the more we find out it’s the little things that seem to make the most difference – those things that aren’t mass advertised or mass-messaged, but rather experienced as a shopper or a loyal consumer.
For example, women cite a friendly, pleasant face in a retail store as a break in the tedious shopping experience. Or gush over a very helpful employee who showed them the way instead of pointing them in the proper direction. Or better yet, helping her to avoid a wasted or incorrect purchase by asking her what HER intentions were for a specific product. Small steps, but these actions show thoughtfulness for her and caring about making sure the experience was a successful one.
So it seems it’s an important questions for brands and retailers to ask themselves…“what are our intentions for our customers?” and then move all marketing efforts toward those intentions. In our conversations, we usually hear the women talking about the little things that create the total “picture of intentions” that add up to big loyalty and get her talking, or send her to another retailer or brand. Because let’s face it, if women know your intentions, they can make a more informed choice and are usually more likely to say “yes.”
Women have a hard time taking care of themselves. And as women who talk to women, we also know they have a hard time even talking about themselves and their own preferences. There’s a lot of talk about balance and how women should prioritize themselves so they can best take care of others, but we don’t always see that in action when doing our work.
- When we give women the payment for their participation in our research, most say they are going to use it for something their kids need, or to treat their family to something fun.
- Women often do the “mundane things” and don’t mind them, in fact enjoy them, if it gives them just a bit to be alone — and NOT feel guilty about that alone time! (Which includes grocery shopping, running errands for the family, even her morning shower, you name it, but it’s time alone without guilt.)
- We have frequently asked women to keep a journal as part of a study. It never fails that one woman mentions (with several other women nodding) how much she enjoyed putting down her thoughts and ideas and that she misses it when the project is over. The process makes her pause, take a breath and think about herself, why she does what she does and typically she becomes more self-aware the longer she journals. Yet, it’s unlikely that many keep journaling.
So women’s nurturing instinct is alive and well, 24/7. Which is important to know when you’re talking with women and asking them to focus on their own actions and opinions. As moderators, we find ourselves saying “but what about you, just think about yourself” when we’re asking women about their own preferences. Which means often it’s the second or third response that gets to the heart of the matter. The first response is probably about others; the truth about herself is a little further underneath.
By Laura Gurasich
The way consumers plug into different marketing programs is changing and there are more options than ever. We are hearing some whispers out in the field that women appreciate the choices offered to them but don’t like being funneled towards any particular option. They want to be able to do what works best for them in whatever situation they happen to be in.
Marketers, particularly in the digital arena, often expect and encourage their customers to migrate to new technology formats. The more advanced option is usually positioned as the best – digital is better than paper, mobile technology is better than digital. For many women, technological advances are not a “wow,” they are one more thing to manage. Therefore, they look at these advances as a new option but rarely want a current choice taken away, at least initially. Women pick and choose what works for them and react negatively when they feel “herded” into one point of connection.
When ecommerce was first gaining traction, some believed that paper catalogs would no longer be necessary in the new digital shopping world. Online-only catalogs have increased significantly in the past five years but the number of catalogs in both print and online formats has also increased nearly 30% in the same time period, according to mediafinder .com. This makes sense because blending the two options — shopping the paper catalog then making the actual purchase online – is often the preferred combination for her life and shopping style.
At On Your Mark, we have seen different situations in our work (coupon usage, redeeming loyalty program points) where women view mobile technology as ONE option but not THE option to help make her life easier and more efficient. Marketers must remember to stay closely in touch with the realities of women’s lifestyles as more tools are introduced. One woman may like mobile apps that tell her about great deals because of the immediacy and then she may manage her loyalty points online because she checks other things on the site when she logs on. The key is to allow each woman to navigate these different connection points in the way that works best for her.