What do you do to make a product for the 21st century woman? Make it pink and load it with everything a gal could need. At least that is what Eurostar thought when they brought the ePad Femme to the market last year. According to ABC News, it not only ‘caters’ to all the stereotypes, it comes packed with all the bells and whistles—an 8-inch touch screen, 1GB of RAM and Android 4.0. But they went a step further pre-loading this feminine tablet with curry recipes, yoga apps and more.
What’s wrong with marketing to women today? Female shoppers flex their economic muscle with 85% of all purchasing decisions in their grasp and a staggering $20 trillion in annual consumer spending across the globe. All the while, clutched in their multi-tasking hands are three tools (screens) that make their worlds go round: smartphones, tablets and laptops. Yet for all their purchasing power, three-screen women are met with product design and marketing that panders to tired clichés, instead of truly being innovative. So how do we close the gap?
Design hierarchy meets consumer needs
Women-oriented websites are bathed in pastels. Frill is featured over function. To reach these women, design must respect and celebrate their differences without demeaning them. Because the truth is design and marketing loses its power of persuasion when it is influenced by false assumptions about the audience it is trying to serve.
We need to start thinking about the problem differently. According to Fast Company’s Women Dominate the Global Market Place, “Moving from traditional ‘life milestones’ to chosen ‘life stages,’ women no longer have a single path that defines them.” Psychographics and worldview can in fact take precedence over the traditional demographic segmentation that marketers have relied on.
When design hierarchy does not mirror the target consumers’ psychographic profile, it becomes impossible for female consumers to enjoy brand experiences. To reach the ‘three-screen’ woman we need to build online engagement platforms that aren’t based upon assumptions, but grounded firmly in research and insights.
Connect with her, create rituals and have fun
Women crave deeper connections with brands. Brands that hope to enchant ‘three-screen’ women design brand experiences as rituals that deliver on pleasure and functionality equally. This is the key. These rituals can create deeper connections with women consumers that can help drive higher levels of purchase intent, response rates, online engagement and advocacy. The result is women are 18% more likely to recommend retailers they have a familiarity and connection with, according to Motista.
Take Exclusively.in. Since its launch in 2010, the flash sale site has garnered a large following by giving consumers an exclusive pass to the luxury-inspired Indian lifestyle. Everyday experiences on the site tell rich stories about Indian culture, artists and style. This is where Exclusively simply and elegantly gets to the heart of what women want: offering the bit of fantasy and elegance that world-class products can provide at a better price point.
Pair these stunning products with a daily ritual, and now this captive audience has a reason to come back and enjoy fun, function and deeper connection—no pandering necessary.
Travel with her
Another big miss is losing women when the sale is over. The checkout line is no place for goodbyes. Instead use the ‘three-screen’ woman’s smartphone, tablet or laptop as your connection to her after conversion. Designing multi-platform brand experiences can catapult the consumer-brand relationship from screen to screen. With 92% of women consumers spreading brand evangelism, companies need to not only travel with women, but connect with them and meet their social circles.
Strong enough for men, made for ‘three-screen’ women
Although women consumers have unquestionable purse power in typically male-oriented industries such as consumer electronics,
automotive, and sports, the brands in these spaces are all but ignoring their needs. The reality is female shoppers have the same exacting standards as men do. It’s a matter of recognizing their needs and mindset and creating designs and messages that are empathetic, intelligent and move women to become brand ambassadors.
With women’s economic influence in the market projected only to grow, brands which take steps to weave functionality in a way that is thoughtful, aesthetically pleasing and have a real respect for the force that she is in the marketplace, will succeed. These brands will not only win a share of her wallet and mind—but with the right plan, a piece of her heart too.
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About the Author
Ayesha Mathews Wadhwa is Founder & Creative Director, Pixink Design. A world citizen raised in Bangalore, she was educated in the cultural nexuses of New York, Paris and San Francisco. Ayesha is a graduate of Parsons School of Design with over 15 years experience in strategy and creative direction for companies such as Apple, Facebook, Sephora, Amazon Lab126 and The Smithsonian. Currently at the intersection of brands and the $20 trillion female economy, Ayesha helps companies synthesize and connect the dots to engage the world’s most influential consumer. She can be followed on Twitter at @AyeshaMathews