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Friday, January 29, 2010

Women: Separate, Equal & Consumers Worth Appealing To

Women: Separate. Equal.

How Do You Appeal To Your Women Consumers?

Marketing to women and appealing to female consumers are subjects I think about all the time. They inspired this blog about the consumer retail experience and have led to many retailer and industry presentations.

Flooring is far from unique, but it captures a world of extremes. For the most part, retail and manufacturing are heavily male driven while the ultimate consumer is a woman.

No wonder the resulting consumer experience often misfires! Although, for those wanting to engage with and delight their [women] customers, imagine the opportunities!

I got to witness the early stages of a customer-focused transformation when I attended Big Bob's Flooring Outlet Annual Meeting where the theme was "Think Pink & Best Practices". David Elyachar, aka Big Bob himself, invited me to take part in his annual session with franchise owners.

Not only did I get to interact with his members, but I also shared information about marketing to women and improving the customer retail experience.... My presentation - titled "Flooring The Consumer: In-Store and Online" - urged Big Bob's Flooring owners and managers to go beyond 'thinking' pink [yes, I was definitely thinking of Andrea Learned and Don't Think Pink] to truly focusing on our core woman consumer.

One audience member wrote, "it goes beyond the theme 'think pink' but the theme at least put [flooring] men in pink shirts. This is a start!"]

How perfect then to come across - on the plane ride to Chattanooga - this Fast Company article from October 2009 titled "Separate. And Equal." by Kate Rockwood, with the marvelous subtitle "Forget 'Shrink It and Pink It'...."

Some of the points worth thinking about:

+ Women represent a $2 trillion market.
+ Women are not a niche market.
+ [As in the flooring world,] industrial design is primarily male dominated, and yet the consumers who make or influence over 80% of household purchase decisions are women. [Talk about opportunity!]
+ "Women want intuitive design" and intuitive retail experiences. [Example of the ultimate intuitive gadget: the Flip UltraHD Camcorder. Do others come to mind? The iPhone?]

As I mentioned in my presentation, the beauty of meeting women's higher expectations is that you also delight your men customers. American Express discovered "in doing research that women were better able than men to articulate their needs, leading to a richer discussion. They think more expansively, uncovering benefits and positionings that the company hadn't considered. In so doing, AmEx learned that by designing for women, they appealed to men, too. For example, whereas traditional AmEx material promoted a message about 19% interest rate [more male focused], women respond to a message about financial planning to protect her family. The different approach not only appeals to women, but also connects with men, and promotes more services. That's an opportunity! In financial services [as in many businesses] selling to women takes more steps, but when you earn her business, she is more loyal. Women are also better investors. Women take care of everyone else before they take care of themselves whereas men are more individually focused and take care of themselves first."

I love this point from the article: "good products balance the needs of men and women for the benefit of both."

The article refers to 5 Tenets of Designing for Women which I consider equally relevant to the retail experience:
+ Emphasize benefits over features.
+ Learn her body [added 1/29: this means think about your displays and products in terms relevant to women's bodies - just so there's no confusion, guys. Stay focused here, ok?]
+ Craft a cohesive story.
+ Identify a spot on the spectrum
+ Remember her life stages.

Getting back to my original question, how do you appeal to your women customers?


Tara Tyler said...

In relationship to flooring...take away the numbers! From the moment "she" walks in the door..ask her about what she has, what she likes, what she dislikes. Ask her about her kids, her family,her life. Show her all the options in relationship to what she likes. By taking the focus off the size of her room, the amount of material needed, she can relax and enjoy the experience better. When she goes shopping for furniture she finds what she likes and thinks about it "fitting" later, therefore flooring should be the same. Allow her to find what she loves and worry about it "fitting" later!

Big Bob Herself
Tara Tyler

CB Whittemore said...


That is terrific advice and thank you for sharing it here! As you and I have discussed, too often retailers forget why consumers walk into our stores and how we need to help them achieve their goals. Which means asking questions and truly listening.

Thanks for grounding us!


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