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June 18th, 2010

What Working Women Want



By Leah Soeder, Brand Strategist

It’s no secret that communicating with women effectively is crucially important to the success of many marketing campaigns.  And for many years, the focus has been on moms in particular, because they wield so much of the decision-making power in their families. But “mom” is only one facet of a woman’s identity—and it may not be the primary way she defines herself anymore.

A recent Ad Age whitepaper examines this shift in how women identify themselves, by focusing on working women in particular.  We’re fast approaching a time when women will outnumber men in the workplace, and the gap between what men earn and what women earn is closing.  More and more, women not only serve as the primary decision maker in their households, but also the primary breadwinners.  This whitepaper demonstrates the importance of considering all facets of a woman’s identity—not just her role as a mother—when you’re marketing to her, and it shares some steps for doing it well.  Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Offer more than just the immediate product benefit. Take Toyota Sienna—when selling a minivan to bunch of jaded Millennials and Gen Xers, you can’t just focus on the fold down seats and automatic sliding doors.  You have to show how it gives them space to be individuals while simultaneously making them the greatest parents in the world.  And if you can do it in a rap video, even better.
  • Don’t reflect reality; make it better. I realize that I’ll never have Kelly Ripa’s fabulous career, model children, or perfectly toned arms, but that doesn’t stop me from lusting after her stove (it boils water in a little over a minute!) every time I see her Electrolux commercials.  The spots may be total fantasy, but there’s no denying that the amount of time saved waiting for water to boil and laundry to dry is a benefit to women (and some men) in any income bracket.
  • Don’t be afraid to be funny. Laughter makes us feel good. It releases tension, relaxes the mind and body, and releases endorphins—allowing the brain to associate the good feeling of laughing with your brand. It’s ok to acknowledge the funny and the ridiculous in a woman’s everyday life, especially if you’re offering her a way to make life easier at the same time.

Bottom line? We’ve spent vast amounts of time and marketing dollars focusing on women as moms over the past few years.  Brands that can quickly adjust to acknowledge the economic power of women who work (while realizing it’s possible to be a woman-who-works-and-is-also-a-mom) may just find themselves ahead of the curve.