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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Marketing To Women

Grande Dames on Parliment Hill originally uploaded by I Eat Clay.

Five Reasons Why I Blog reminded me that I was quite remiss in not capturing here several other articles relating to Flooring The Consumer...

Below, you will find the 2005 interview for
Floor Covering Weekly Online [registration nec.] that formally got me going on the subject of marketing to women and the retail experience in flooring. It eventually led to contributing articles to Floor Covering Weekly.

Issue Date: 6/20-6/27/05, Posted On: 6/20/2005

Christine Whittemore on Marketing to Women
by Kimberly Gavin kimgavin@aol.com

Decades of studies have proved that women make the flooring purchase decision. To help retailers of Wear-Dated carpet capitalize on this, Solutia has a director of In-Store Innovation for Wear-Dated. Christine Whittemore, who holds the post, says retailers should cater to women for one reason: “It’s a business thing.” FCW Editor Kim Gavin spoke with Whittemore about the whys and hows of marketing to women. A more in-depth version of this interview will appear in an upcoming issue of FCW.

Why should retailers market to women?
Women represent 51 percent of the population and 47 percent of the labor force. Women hold 50 percent of managerial positions. There are more women graduating from college and graduate programs than are men. They represent 47 percent of Americans with assets over half a million dollars. The long and the short of it is that women are a significant force in the marketplace.

They are the chief decision makers on a whole bunch of fronts. Relating to the home: 40 percent of home improvement projects and products; 61 percent of major home fix-up projects; 83 percent of consumer purchases – and I’ve seen that go as high as 85; 91 percent of home sales. There are more single women purchasing homes; and about 94 percent make the decisions on home furnishings. Retailers who don’t make an effort to address that core consumer are going to lose business.

What do women want from a retailer?
Flooring is complex and represents big dollars. It’s not going to be a snap decision. She wants a place where she can relax, a store that draws her in to browse and touch. If she’s accompanied by a spouse, is there a space for the spouse to be comfortable? If she has children, is there a place where they can play? Women are developing higher expectations of the retail experience because there are more places now that are fun to go to. I forgot to mention that the bathroom had better be clean.

Consumers tend to consider flooring a commodity item because it’s so unpleasant to shop for. There’s no emotion connected to it. It’s been reduced to the lowest common denominator and that’s price. Consumers will trade up where product makes them feel good. Where it doesn’t matter, they are going to go as cheap as they can. Flooring retailers are missing a real opportunity there.

What are some of the more successful marketing strategies that you’ve come across?
Events where a consumer can come in. Maybe it’s a bring-a-friend event to hear someone talk in a store environment. Those are successful because she has a reason to go into a non-threatening environment. I can’t stress enough: No hard sell.

What are some other key points about the process?
Give her information. Make sure everyone (in your store) understands it’s a fashion item and it’s about making her home better. Visually, it’s important to show the product in a situation she can relate to. Show people living on the product.

What are the big marketing mistakes?
A big one goes back to respect. If you don’t respect her or take her seriously she’s going to walk out. Use signage and material so she can get educated. Don’t be a car sales person. Don’t prejudge. Don’t focus just on product features and benefits. Her eyes will glaze over. How will it help her achieve what she wants? Store environment. Don’t have one that overwhelms with racks and racks. How about giving her information with all those racks? It goes to the environment that draws her in. She’ll spend time. The more time she spends, the more comfortable she’ll be and the more likely she’ll be to spend money.

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