Monthly Archives: April 2011

Understanding Her Habits: The Coupon Encounter

By Hailey LaGuarta

As researchers, we at On Your Mark are constantly striving to understand women’s behavior. We are fascinated with women as consumers, and we are always seeking new ways to identify with them and their buying patterns. We even go as far as trying out these behaviors in our own lives to see how they can impact us. The women we talk to in our focus groups can be an inspiration, because they love to find great deals and share this knowledge. As such, I was recently motivated by these women to try something new.

The other night I was flipping through the television channels when I saw an interesting commercial for a new show that is about to premier – “Extreme Couponing.” This TLC reality show is about women who try to save money on every purchase they make by using coupons. I stopped flipping because I was intrigued by their devotion to saving money. As I sat there watching the women in the commercial clipping coupons, I started thinking about the female shoppers we talk to and how we try to understand their buying strategies. I don’t clip coupons myself, but I started to consider my own shopping habits and wonder how much money I could save if I changed them. I wanted to experience couponing as a way to relate to bargain hunting women out there, and also to see if I could integrate this into my everyday lifestyle. My curiosity got the best of me, and the next day I set out on my own coupon adventure.

I began by gathering all the coupons I could around my house. I found a pile of coupons that I received in the mail and decided to do some research online about the good deals at my local grocery store. With a stack of coupons in my purse, I headed to my local grocery store. I discovered great deals that I would otherwise pass by because I’m not paying attention or don’t want to take the time. It took me a while to get the hang of things, but I quickly learned which signs to look for when shopping for items associated with my coupons. After I checked out I looked down at my receipt to find that I had saved $14.00. While this may not impress some of the women featured on the show, I felt proud and pleased. It’s understandable that women would be motivated to go to the extreme with couponing!

I am thankful that my coupon experience led to a deeper understanding of couponing shoppers. Even thought I am not like the “Extreme Couponing” women, I have become much more cognizant of my shopping and am learning to seek out great deals online and through magazines. Knowing how this experience has impacted my shopping patterns allows me to form a better grasp on why women coupon. I look forward to putting myself in another pair of the female consumer’s shoes to further relate to her.

The Art of Reinvention

By Jeanne Corrigan

I was at a five-year-old’s birthday party a few weeks ago and had a conversation with one of the other moms that got me thinking. She mentioned that she had taken a second job at a progressive, local company here in Austin. She was keeping her current job and working part-time at the new company to get to know the culture and see if she could make a permanent career move. We talked about how she had come to a point of reassessment – taking a fresh look at her life and career and how it was all working together. I have had similar conversations with friends and colleagues about how women think about, manage, and sometimes reinvent, their lives. Women are constantly evolving and many arrive at a point, after they’ve launched their careers and/or families, where they come back to themselves and ask, “What do I want now?”

So what brings women to this place of reassessment? There are many triggers that can inspire a woman to rethink her life, including:

  • There’s a natural “reflection” period for women in midlife, which I think of as our 40s and 50s. Women in this age range have enough experience to know if the current situation is working. And what they might want to do differently.
  • A life change or event often causes a woman to look at her choices and consider how she wants to spend her time. It could be life-changing, like a divorce or diagnosis, or simply the evolution of daily life such as a youngest child starting school. It could also be an event that allows a greater range of choices, such as a single woman who pays off a big line item (mortgage, school loans) in her 40’s and now has more flexibility in her income requirements.
  • For many women, this is a time where fulfillment is prioritized ahead of advancement so they look for ways to live and work in a way that best serves their lives and priorities. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to work less, they may just want to work differently. Careers are longer now and women in their 40s can expect to work for 20 more years so they think hard about finding or creating a situation that better meets their needs.

This midlife reinvention doesn’t have to feel like a jump off a cliff. It often happens in an iterative way, like the approach my mom friend is taking. You take one step and see how it goes, then take another step. Or start something on the side and increase your joy, and maybe make a little money. Thinking about this type of reinvention, the key is to identify your needs and motivations and determine what will make your life better, however you define it.  Then, go beyond thinking into action and take one move towards it. Who knows what amazing changes will come next?

Rumor Consumer

By Stephanie Milam

It’s no secret that women love chatting with one another. From small talk at the office to intimate conversations with close friends, one of the topics we nearly always include is the brands we love or hate. What’s working for us and what isn’t, a particularly helpful salesperson, the best weekend deals – it’s all game for these conversations we engage in everyday.

This exchange from woman –to –woman about products and services spread brand rumors from consumer –to –consumer. And while gossip is generally scorned as an unproductive habit of women, it is precisely this desire for chatter that is the holy grail for marketers. A recent consumer we spoke with said she trusts the recommendations of other shoppers over the coupons and promotions offered by a brand when she is thinking about purchasing something for the first time. She trusts other females of her social circle because she knows they already have parts of their lifestyle in common. They all shop at grocery stores, buy clothes for themselves and their families, and try to find ways to relax and enjoy themselves.

Women are therefore considered the ultimate brand ambassadors. Give a compliment to a woman about her shoes will she most likely share with you where she got them. And if she knows you well, she won’t stop there.

Women often exchange product recommendations with detailed accounts of how the product did or did not work for them, how expensive it is, and where they purchased it. So not only do women talk about the products they like, they have multi-faceted, comprehensive discussions that include price point comparisons, customer service experiences, and current deals – essentially conducting a two-way brand campaign. Her power to promote (or demote) a brand comes from her direct access to the crucial female consumer market, or her peers, that are far more willing to listen to a trusted source than a store sales associate or online advertisement.

Not only are female consumers listening to fellow women, but some (smart) companies are tuning in as well. One of the best examples of companies maximizing the potential of woman –to –woman brand gossip is NBCUniversal, with its Women at NBCU female consumer targeted research and marketing enterprise, and its acquisition of iVillage, a destination website which combines the best functions of online forums, product reviews, and news publications into an exclusively female web community. Women at NBCU has even initiated a monthly Brand Power Index of the top 25 brands women are most “buzzing” about.

Creating this mutually beneficial relationship between the business and the female consumer allows for the business to optimally meet the needs and desires of their precious female market and perhaps gain her loyalty in the process. In return, she will spread the word far and wide of her new favorite brand.