Growing The Women Share

Late last year we introduced the third element of Marketing 4.0 with engaging influential subcultures. Last week we looked the initial subculture being acquiring the youth mindset . Today we are going to introduce the second subculture that being Growing the Women Share. No small thing since women now constitute over 50% of the managerial population (but still face glass ceilings) and are disrupting in markets that were once the bastion of men (i.e. AFL football). And are also sick of being a stereotype in traditional campaigns. Ariel in fact washed away the stains of past generations of chauvinism and bias with it’s washing powder campaign: #sharetheload.

The female market is also a logical one for marketers to pursue. Not only is its size enormous, the segment profile is also distinctive. Highlighting the psychological differences, John Gray metaphorically argues that “men are from Mars, women are from Venus.” There are brands that are targeting females very effectively (eg Dove); yet there are plenty of Marketers who need to heed the direction of brands such as Amazon who are taking a multi-dimensional approach to engaging women. Knowing that women can be at work & have a family or be at work and proudly independent; Amazon provide products such as Dash and Go that don’t just provide ease and convenience they also offer a whole new way of engaging with time-poor women who are always on the go.

Over the Christmas break I bumped into Bec Brideson leading expert in gender intelligence. It shocks us both still, that agencies and campaign alike still remain nonchalant towards the impact of women. For the definitive look at this, explore Bec Brideson’s landmark book Blind Spots which delves into the $28 trillion female economy and outlays the definitive methodology and business transformation required to acquire and retain the new lucrative female consumer. Amongst many achievements, Bec was pivotal in the AFL’s burgeoning AFLW competition.

The inherent differences between men and women have been a subject for both psychology and marketing. Many experts have put forth their views about marketing to women. The influence that women have on others is defined by what they do. Rena Bartos, in her book Marketing to Women Around the World, describes the segmentation of the female market: stay-at-home housewife, plan to-work housewife, working woman with a job, or career woman. To put it simply, the world of women revolves around family and work. The dilemma they often face is either to choose one alternative or to balance between family and career. But being more suited to multitasking, women are inherently better managers when it comes to complex, multifaceted assignments, at home, at work, or both. And this shouldn’t be underestimated in our marketing efforts.

In general, there are three roles that women play.

One thing is certain: Women’s rise to power, which is linked to the increase in wealth per capita, is happening in all domains and at all levels of society. Women are no longer content to provide ‘efficient’ labour or just be consumers. With rising budgets and more autonomy to spend, this is just the beginning. Marketers beware: the phenomenon will only grow as women assume their rightful percentage of all positions in life.

According to Martha Barletta, a woman’s decision-making process differs from a man’s. Whereas a man’s path-to-purchase is short and straightforward, a woman’s resembles a spiral, often going back to previous steps to collect new information and to reassess whether moving to the next step is the right choice.

Women typically spend hours in stores reviewing quality and comparing prices as well as hours researching online, while men typically limit their search and go after what they want as quickly as possible.

Not only do women research more, they also converse more about brands.

They seek out the opinions of their friends and family, and they are open to receiving assistance from others. While men just want to get things done, women want to find the perfect product, the perfect service, or the perfect solution.

For marketers, the information-collecting nature of women has its benefits. It means that all marketing communications and customer education efforts are not a waste. Women actually pay attention to all the information, and they will eventually summarize it for others.

The fact that women experience more touchpoints in their spiral path-to-purchase means that they are exposed to more factors for consideration. They are more likely to consider everything —functional benefits, emotional benefits, prices, and the like—before determining the true value of products and services. For certain household categories, women consider products’ value not only to themselves but to the entire family and / or friends.

Women also consider and browse for more brands, including less popular brands that they believe might have more value. Because of this, women are more confident about their choice when they finally buy. Thus, they are more loyal and more inclined to recommend their choice to their community.

They deserve the titles of chief financial officer, general manager, purchasing manager, and asset manager of the family. Not only are they the gatekeepers for most household products, including big-ticket items, women are also the influencers for other products such as investment and financial services. A Pew Research Center report in 2014 revealed that in 51 percent of U.S. households, women were the ones calling the shots whereas in only 26 percent of the households, men were more dominant (in the remainder of the households, they equally split decision making). In Indonesia, the picture is even more striking. Based on a survey by MarkPlus Insight in 2015, about 74 percent of Indonesian women managed all the family finances—controlling even the income of their spouses—although only 51 percent of them were working.

It turns out that the role that women play at home is spreading to the workplace. In 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that women account for 41 percent of the employees who have the authority to make purchasing decisions for their employers in the United States.

The influence of women at home and at work is growing. As information collectors, holistic shoppers, and household managers, women are the key to win market share in the digital economy. To access even bigger markets, brands will need to get past women’s comprehensive decision-making process.

To get a deeper perspective please click on to look at an excerpt from Bec Brideson’s fabulous book: Blindspots

CMO Perspective: Jemma Wong- AFL

In 2015, Australian Football League CEO Gillon McLachlan announced that the AFL would launch a national women’s competition, fast tracking plans from 2020 to 2017. This wasn’t only a courageous moment for our game and the wider sports industry; it opened a new world of opportunity for the 350,000 girls and women who were playing the game at grassroots level. And even more, it signaled a new direction for the game – one that was more progressive, inclusive and ready to change. McLachlan announced, ‘Equality and aspiration were big reasons for spending $4 million to set up the new competition. It was also good for business.’

In this league, women had always been a part of the game – on the supporter sidelines, inside the administration. At a community level, women were playing without the visibility and backing, professional input or media attention. While starting a professional female code wasn’t about creating a ‘female product for a female audience’, we knew AFL Women’s had the potential to mobilise our female supporters in an entirely new way, giving them a sense of ownership and opening up new revenue streams.

Compared to the established men’s competition, the challenge of marketing this game was two-fold.

1. Brand Challenge – How to fascinate a nation beyond novelty? And how to shift perceptions to position women as credible, active agents in the game.

2. Audience Challenge – This wasn’t just a ‘build it and they will come’ scenario. We had to convert our existing – somewhat skeptical – fan base as well as inspire a new audience.

The Opportunity

This was more than marketing a professional league or competition. The women’s product was an opportunity:

  • To build a positive, female and inclusive culture across the entire industry
  • To demystify female athletes and women in the game
  • To create 200-plus empowered female heroes in sport

To build new rituals and new types of belonging – for young boys, to look up to our female players and not only recognize but celebrate their talents; and for younger girls, to never again disqualify themselves or take themselves out of the race

Collaboration, Not Instruction

Looking at the game through an authentic female lens, rather than from a traditional sports view, we didn’t instruct, we collaborated to build a meaningful narrative around women in the AFL. We embarked on six months of education, inspiration and consultation with clubs, staff, players and partners, providing the context to the brand and audience strategy and having open discussions about the cultural change we could effect. A successful launch meant we needed our partners to be on the right side of the message, from the beginning.

Early Signs

  • In five months, we built 100,000 fans on Facebook and 27,000 fans on Instagram driven by organic interest and storytelling by the Opening Round weekend.
  • Our social media audiences were 67% female, and the largest audience group was the 18-34 age bracket
  • The Opening Round weekend had an attendance of 50,000 people.
  • The first game welcomed a capacity crowd of 24,000 fans to Ikon Park, with thousands of fans unable to get into the grounds
  • Merchandise sold out early in the season and memberships grew for clubs overnight
  • The majority of fans at the first game were women (this trend has continued throughout the competition). Women supporting women – it was a beautiful thing to see firsthand.

What can other brands do to attract women?

  • You need senior advocates who not only rationally understand the benefits but emotively connect. Emotion is where you’ll see mindset shifts.
  • Show the market opportunity with research, qualitative and quantitative data points.
  • Have a tailored go-to-market strategy based on the real insight, the right channels, right time
  • Take the time to provide context for the female economy inside your organization. This won’t be solved in one presentation; it needs continual discussion and championing.
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