What women want

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Women are responsible for up to 80 per cent of purchase decisions and are fast becoming the most valuable and important target audience on earth. Yet, according to iD Experiential, all too often the female opportunity is missed because marketing rules are drawn up along masculine lines that women just don’t respond to. As it turns out, experiential marketing is the perfect platform to give women exactly what they want.

Last month, Stand Out had the pleasure of attending a four-hour workshop, which brought together the creative minds, organisers and marketing managers of some of the most respected brands in the UK – all were keen to hear what iD Experiential and the Pretty Little Head consultancy had to say on experiential campaigns and the targeting of women.

Jane Cunningham, co-founder of Pretty Little Head, helps companies to understand a female audience. In total 50 delegates gathered to hear Cunningham’s scientific evidence that proves the female mind to be one of the most complex, astute and considered.

Years of research denote that the human brain processes information in two ways – systemising and empathising. Men are typically systemisers; in other words they are generally better at investigating how a system works compared to women who have a natural empathy – stereotypically, we’re not wired to think how things work but how such things will impact on our overall situation.

Women, according to Cunningham, are better at reading emotions and responding appropriately and so unsurprisingly
20 per cent of the population are greater empathisers. Fifty per cent of the population sit in the middle of the spectrum, and a further 20 per cent are more systematic in their approach. With this in mind, how should a marketer stop a woman in their tracks?

Not so fast… women are more likely to be empathisers thanks to a science of femininity. When women are stressed they adopt a “tend and befriend” approach, and it’s all because of a hormone called oxytocin – a bonding hormone released in greater quantities during pregnancy and motherhood. Oxytocin allows mothers to bond with their babies, and so its presence allows women to feel at ease when disclosing their fears to another female, bonding with another woman and discussing a shared feeling or experience. Tone of voice is also important here, and should be taken on board by today’s savvy brand ambassadors.

Tend and befriend

But Gents, here’s a warning. Next time a woman tells you she has a bigger corpus callosum please don’t take offence. She simply has the ability when making decisions to take a holistic approach because the corpus callosum, the bit that connects the left and right hand side of the brain, is larger in the female of the species. It literally is a meeting of minds – it’s the ability to link the rational with the emotional, and women augment the rational with the sensory, hence we appear to be emotional. Not irrational!

When marketing to women it’s also key to look at survival tactics and strategies, as men and women operate differently. The male brain adopts a competitive streak; it’s a survival of the fittest and quest to gain control. Women on the other hand want to avert risk, nurture the vulnerable, create a community and tend to the environment in which they operate. In summary, marketers should create a safe haven for women rather than a competitive environment that draws on the rational side of the brain.

In summary, Cunningham outlined the basics, assuming that women are generally empathisers, and gave the following advice: create a safe haven, devoid of risk; brand ambassadors should adopt a “tend and befriend” approach, creatives should design a campaign which allows the sensory and emotional to be evoked, and empathise.

Cunningham’s thoughts were backed up by iD Experiential’s planner, Lisa Homewood, who suggested that brands with naturally sensory assets should be used to a brand’s advantage. A Millward Brown Brand Sense Study said that engaging more than one sense could staffing increase brand loyalty by up to 60 per cent. In fact, the research revealed that sight (29 per cent), smell (20 per cent) and touch (13 per cent) are the most important senses. A further piece of research analysing Fortune 500 companies’ marketing spend found that 84 per cent was spent on visual comms compared to 1.9 per cent on smell. Given smells high sensory ranking amongst consumers, are brands missing a trick when it comes to experiential campaigns geared towards women?

Women love to talk

The notion that women love to talk is not simple hear say – Cunningham proved this statement with the following research from Natwest, which discovered this: When women have a positive brand experience they will tell an average of 23.4 people. Compared to men who will tell an average of 2.4.

Caroline Deutsch, iD Experiential’s client services director, advised those present that in response to the hard facts brand ambassadors need to have accredibility and empathy with a female audience, and they should go deeper with brand information – talk to the target audience with tales of common experience and suggest how it could work for them.

This begs an interesting question: how should you brief your staffing agency? How should your brand ambassadors approach a female audience? Are hot guys and girls the answer? In short, no.

Bettina Taverner, account manager, Moore People, explains: “Women make up 51 per cent of the 15+ UK population and, according to research, the majority of them are their household’s main shopper having the largest share of the spending power. Highly responsive, women are the perfect target for any company introducing a new product or pushing a new brand.

“Women scrutinise ads, read newspapers and magazines, use the Internet, touch the merchandise, talk to their peers and spend time discussing options with sales people or representatives. The latter is where they often make the final buying decision, however, which explains the power of live events when marketing to women.

“Women like to put the product they are looking at into a familiar context, responding well if the people they come into contact with can do this. With this relationship-oriented approach such an important a route to purchase, it is vital that the people representing your company or brand can create this instant bond or rapport.

“First impressions also count when marketing to women – and you’ll only get one chance to get this right (or wrong!). You need to be clear on the impression of your brand and identify what kinds of women customers fit that target market. The key is then to make sure your front- of-house team reflects this in their attire, age, look and ability to communicate. Surprisingly, on a recent project Moore People undertook for the NHS targeting young, married women with small children we noticed that they responded particularly well to young males who could engage them without appearing threatening, and could impart the relevant information in a friendly and easily understandable way,” Taverner concluded.

Understand the brand

When staffing a female-focussed campaign it is important to understand the brand and the type of female that it is marketed towards, as this shapes the type of staff required, said Jane Richardson, head of staffing at RPM.

“Often it is assumed that the way to successfully target women is to employ good looking men to engage with the female audience thus automatically making the product attractive to the female consumer. This approach can work with some products and can be particularly successful if done in a more ‘tongue-in-cheek’ manner. However to apply this method to all campaigns is

to underestimate the female consumer. Women are intelligent and like to feel that they have been thought about on an individual/personal level.”

Lisa Simpson, director of Beautiful Minds Promotions, thinks brands need to put themselves in the consumer’s shoes.

She adds: “Women respond better to women if they can relate to them. This is why when staffing campaigns directed at women we choose a team that includes ‘girls next door’ who are very easy to chat to and put people at ease. It is also important to have a male presence in the team as we all don’t have the same responses. The disadvantage of using an all-female team is that it could be a bit intimidating for a woman to be approached by an army of perfect ‘fembots’ who have no relationship with what they are promoting.”

Shock tactics

Toinette Kempson Vicars is UK and
IE marketing director for F-Secure Corporation, an IT security and mobile security software specialist. She is currently working on a cross platform campaign that will put the brand and the issue of Internet security on women’s radar, as 52 per cent of Internet users are female.

She explains: “In a general sense, Internet security is normally marketed to men, and a traditional customer profile would show a male technology professional. But we wouldn’t be alone in thinking that’s who we should target.

“However, when you do some digging women account for 52 per cent of people online right now because they shop and use social networking sites. More women are doing more high-risk activities online. So, we’ve looked at our marketing and it’s given us an opportunity.

“Internet security is about preventing crime. Having looked at previous marketing, campaigns are very neutral or male-based so you have to think ‘how can we get a woman to look at our product?’. It’s time for women to take responsibility for being safe online so that their identity is not stolen or their card details.”

Kempson Vicars is working with Ian Irving, director of Experience This, to create a campaign that targets women and the issues surrounding Internet security – identity theft, stolen card details, safe online shopping and pop up windows. Yet, her female-focused campaign has been described as sexist. And this from an industry that three years ago had promo girls in nurses uniforms walking round Infosecurity Europe baring the slogan – Have you been penetrated?

She continues: “The campaign subject appeals to women because it relates to how they engage with the Internet and advises them how to shop safely online. It’s an integrated campaign with live opportunities that will generate online content. We’re currently developing ideas and then we will hit the streets in April using humour and performance art.”

Irving will, with a team of 20, create viral films in London. Four films in total will be shot – up to10 trained mime artists will follow unsuspecting shoppers as they go about their daily lives. They will be briefed to copy everything the shopper does and when the shopper finally reacts a team of 12 brand ambassadors will swoop in, rewarding the consumer and others nearby with product and redemption vouchers, tips on being safe online and advising on the dangers of identity theft.

Trained actors will also stand on street corners carrying huge “golf sale” signs. Each sign will carry a message such as – Beware giant banana attacking round corner – to see who takes notice of “pop up” messages only for that person to then encounter a giant banana attacking someone round the corner. All of the action and shock scenarios will be filmed from multiple camera angles and then a team of brand ambassadors will come in and engage with the “victim” and other intrigued consumers in the immediate vicinity. Irving is working with Kash and Elevate to create the films, which will be shown globally.

Naturally, female shoppers will be targeted to drive home the message that greater awareness is needed – what are you saying yes or no to when a pop-up window appears on screen, are you using a safe payment system to pay for goods online and could someone have stolen your identity? Kempson Vicars and Irving are using humour and shock and awe tactics to communicate this message, and so brand ambassadors are going through a heavy training procedure so that they can respond effectively to all consumer requests when these “performances” take place on the street.