Sales & Marketing / Strategy & Planning

Why should SMEs market to women?

Why should SMEs market to women?

Master the art of marketing to female buyers or your business will perish

Marketing to women needs to be included as a core part of business strategy of any company and there is an ‘art of marketing to women’ that is well worth exploring. It could help shape an important growth tactic for business, and marketers can ill afford to ignore this most important of macro segments.

Do not assume that painting a veneer of glossy pink all over the marketing collateral is all that is involved in marketing to and targeting women. Pink is not a business strategy! Instead the very core of propositions and services need to be precision targeted to meet the unique needs of women.

Functional areas responsible for marketing, sales and overall business leadership are almost always overwhelmed by the male of the species. Yet men do not truly understand the unique needs and perspectives of women. Too many misdirected assumptions are made by men on how to woo women to their business. They need consider a famous quote from some unknown person (likely a woman, or a very wise
man) – ‘A woman can say more in a sigh than a man can say in a sermon.’ Imagine that sigh reverberating across the world of social networks and you get the picture! Ignore your women customers at your peril!


Do not assume that painting a veneer of glossy pink all over the marketing collateral is all that is involved in marketing to women. Pink is not a business strategy!”

john lincoln, author

Why marketing to women is relevant

Marketers will already be aware of some major global demographic, social, economic and technology shifts and marketing trends which are altering the traditional landscapes of businesses. Understanding these changes is essential to business survival and the sustainability of established business models.

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Demographic trends

Women currently make up about 48% of the population in the world. So one in every two potential consumers or customers for a business is a woman. In some age groups, globally women make up much more than half of the population. In the over 65 years age group, women make up about 56% of the population, explained by their longer life expectancy. Not only are older women healthier and more active
in later life than men, but in many developed and developing economies, women over 50 have evolved from being a homemaker to being a purchaser of high ticket items. This should not be surprising and makes perfect sense, as once the children leave the nest these older but healthier and empowered women have a much higher disposable income.

Ignoring or not really understanding half of the potential customer base is definitely not a good business strategy. Yet look around any business of any size and it is abundantly clear how misrepresented in the workplace women actually are.

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All over the world, from Dubai to Dhaka to Dallas, the number of women entering the work force is increasing. What this means is that more women are of independent means and have more disposable incomes, and can spend more than ever before. It also means that women spend less time with their families. This has implications on how a business meets the needs of household goods and groceries sectors compared to items such as clothes, handbags, perfumes and the like that women buy or use for their personal use. One consequence is that marketers need to differentiate the experience when women shop during work days versus the weekends. Given their lack of time and hectic schedules balancing the demands of home and work, affordability, convenience and efficiency should almost always rule the design of any
proposition, whether a woman is shopping for their household or for personal items. Given their busy schedules as care provider and career woman, it would be wise to note that women do appreciate having their ‘own’ time – which calls for marketers to design a different experience.

Globally, women now decide, influence or account for about at least 85% of all purchases. Most men (despite their personal experiences as a partner and/or husband), assume that this is only true of household and food items. This is certainly not the case. It includes large ticket items like houses, cars, selection of healthcare
and financial services providers to white goods and others. In fact, women make the decisions or highly influence the purchase decision in almost anything ranging from vacations to purchase of technology items like PCs. This is not a truism for the developed economies alone. In any part of the world, women now exert a high influence on any purchase.

There are two other important and often ignored demographic trends that businesses need a note. They are decreasing birth rates and increasing divorce rates both in developed and in developing economies. What this means is that women have more time for themselves and/or spend more time by themselves, have higher disposable income and are lesser influenced by a third party.


Technological shifts: Women are digital savvy

Most women both in developed and developing economies are digitally savvy. They use the Internet for shopping, keep in touch with their friends through emails and instant messaging. They are very active in social networks like Facebook and Twitter. This has major implications for business marketers. The obvious one is that a large number of women shop online at least once a day. Given that women nurture and maintain relationships with friends better than men, they are more likely to pass on to their friends deals or savings that they have come across. Women are also more appreciative of a business’s intent to serve them better. Therefore women are more like to respond positively to requests to serve on a select online product or service panel.

So women not only offer the best chance for referrals, but they can better help a business improve its proposition to serve them better.


Marketing trends: Customer loyalty and detail orientation

Women focus on relationships better than men. Women see themselves as interdependent and more connected than men. Women will put in extra efforts to connect to people, society or even a business. Women focus on maintaining a relationship more than men. Women are more likely than men to give a business a second chance to serve them. Women do not show loyalty to an organization but rather to people in the organization.

This has huge implications for business owners and marketers who will want to ensure that they treat women as individuals and encourage one-on-one relationships. In this regard, SMEs do have a better chance of having close relationships with their women customers than larger organizations. They also have a better chance of promoting loyalty-based propositions to women, better than men.

Research has shown that women feel misunderstood in most marketing campaigns ranging from food, healthcare, automobiles and financial services. This represents a tremendous opportunity for businesses and marketers to garner insights and develop propositions which women understand and need. Women are more detail-oriented than men. They look at the finer details of a sale, a deal or an offer. This is a double-edged sword for small business owners and SME marketers.

It is a known fact that women are more likely to use trade-in coupons promoting discounts than men are. They are also more likely to see if a proposition design is incomplete or pick up the flaws in a proposition. Any business owner or marketer who ignores purposeful, structured and targeted marketing to women is making a costly mistake. A good start would be to hire more women and to ensure that the business strategy – and your personal leadership – fully takes into account the power of women.


JohnLincoln.oneThe business growth hacker


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