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.

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