Marketing to a Key Decision-Maker: The Empowered Woman

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    October 22, 2019

Marketing to a Key Decision-Maker: The Empowered Woman


A little more than a decade ago, with a small group of smart women and a few brilliant men, I launched Frank About Women, a marketing-to-women marketing consultancy that was one of the first of its kind in the industry. Fast-forward to 2019 in my leadership role at Wray Ward, and the gender-savvy truisms on which we founded the firm still exist. In fact, some foundational pillars have become even more resonant in today’s marketing world. What does that mean for you as a marketer?

Here’s the thing: A high percentage of women are still driving the lion’s share of household purchasing decisions. I see this every day in our home category vertical. From skylights and window coverings to countertops and flooring, women remain a majority influencer.

If you consider that women in the United States collectively contribute $7 trillion to annual household income and influence 83% of all domestic consumer spending, it makes sense that women drive home category decisions. In fact, the woman of the house is initiating home goods and services shopping exploration more than 80% of the time — and in current day, this journey almost always starts online.

Of course, she is not always alone on her journey. While women tend to drive decisions in categories such as furniture, accessories and small appliances, larger purchase decisions such as flooring, kitchen and bath accoutrements, and major appliances are more often made jointly. Meanwhile, women exert significant influence on DIY home improvement projects using items purchased at big-box home retailers, such as lumber and paint.

Understanding Her

Want to focus your marketing efforts? First, determine when and where both genders start their journey. Understanding the critical touch points will inform what will resonate. Next, to better understand the female mindset, acknowledge women as breadwinners and contributors. Women today feel empowered by their essential societal role, and they want acknowledgement. That’s why, in some cases, alpha partner status has shifted such that “marketing to women” now means “marketing to a key decision-maker.”

That’s also why it’s important to speak to a woman authentically and on her own terms. With a vast sea of options, she will gravitate toward brands that define her, cultivate her personal style and speak to her in relatable terms.

Getting to Her

In addition to accounting for more than half of the global population, women are by far the biggest users of social media sites including Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest (and more than 75% of adult women use Facebook).

But don’t assume too much: One mantra from my experience deploying female-savvy marketing programs is that any sentence beginning with “All women” is never true.

Instead, as each social channel evolves, your approach to women online must be highly segmented and customized. Successful marketers use data analytics and female-centric insights to drill into their target’s preferences, styles, motivations and attitudes, while also understanding how to be where she is and attract her visually and conversationally. In the home category, the purchasing journey is typically an active, ongoing and longer cycle, allowing brands and their target to get to know each other gradually. The more your brand can engage her, the more you will win her over.

Effective marketers drill down to their target’s preferences, styles, motivations and attitudes, meeting her where she is. The more your brand can engage her, the more success you will have.

Winning Her Over

Once you make a connection, consider these five principles to keep your brand at the forefront of her decision-making.

  1. Respect her propensity to shop around. Women do their research and gather detailed information regarding their options before making a purchase decision. Be as thorough as you can regarding style options, features and benefits, warranties and service. No detail is too much for most women, while too little information will frustrate her.
  2. Take the time to get to know her. Women tend to respond better when they feel they have a relationship with a brand. The more you personalize your approach and tune into her psychographics, the more likely you are to capture her loyalty. VELUX skylights, for example, mitigates the intimidating process of cutting a hole in her roof by sharing everything from design inspiration and installation tips to trust-building reviews.
  3. Respect her time. Women are busy. Your target spends her time with great discretion, and while she may use shopping as an excursion, in most cases, she is on a mission to be efficient. Many women gravitate to brands that offer a carefully edited selection of fewer but better choices. Fashion brand Eileen Fisher perfected this art by coordinating recommended outfits in brick-and-mortar stores, online and in catalogs, making choices easy.
  4. Do not overcomplicate it. She wants a magical place to explore and imagine, but when she’s ready to make a decision, she doesn’t want to work hard to get what she needs. Do not overwhelm her or make her dig deep for answers (otherwise, you may turn her off to your brand forever). Clare paint, for instance, takes a cumbersome process and simplifies it for every facet of the female buyer’s experience — color sampling, selection, buying and DIYing.
  5. Remember that women have different definitions of value. Women do not exclusively define value according to price and quality. As a marketer, you must think holistically about her entire experience. Value can take many forms such as style, design, time-saving potential, multifunctional properties and, most important, reflection of self.

Marketing to the empowered woman is about unearthing buying behaviors, both online and in-store, and driving to make personal connections and intersections. If you approach marketing to these key decision-makers openly and on their own terms while appealing to their diverse and unique lifestyles, you are more apt to make a connection. Need help? Send me a note.

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