It’s a well known fact that women are the purchasers or key influencers of 85% of all consumer purchases. Even in traditionally ‘male’ product categories like electronics and cars women are responsible for over 65% of all purchase decisions. However, 91% of women say advertisers don’t understand them (She-conomy). Indicating that many businesses are missing out on crucial sales by not focusing on women more strongly in their designs, communications and sales strategies. Strategic planning and design is critical to attracting more women to your product or service.
Here are 6 simple ways you can create more female appeal and boost your profits:
1. Pay attention to customer service
Research shows that women have higher expectations of customer service than men do. Whether that service is face-to-face, online, or over the phone, women will leave as a result of poor, disrespectful or frustrating service.
In a study polling 5,800 consumers in the Asia-Pacific region, 45 percent of people said they would pay a premium for good customer service. Think about how you can design and integrate customer service touchpoints across all channels to make a more enjoyable experience for her. Are store signs designed to show her the way to specific products and service counters? Can you add an online chat service to your website? Are you advertising delivery options outside of traditional business hours, so she doesn’t have to take a day off work? Can she schedule an appointment immediately without waiting to be called or emailed back? How easy is it for her to find what she needs from you on her mobile phone, in three minutes or less?
2. Pass the Buchanan Test
When targeting women ‘pink’ is not a marketing strategy, nor is motherhood. Try to avoid pigeonholing women into stereotypical groups. The Buchanan Test (inspired by The Bechdel Test) was designed to test stereotyping of women in advertising. Look at your most recent ads featuring women, whether they’re print or digital and see if you can answer “yes” to the following three questions:
- Do you feature a woman outside of the home?
- Do you feature a woman in a role other than “mother”?
- Is she NOT doing yoga?
You’d be surprised by how many ads fail this simple test but when you can break away from the stereotypes that’s when women feel inspired, like in this ad from Under Armour:
3. Choose imagery that resonates
Think about how your business can break away from stereotypical images in your ads, brochures and website design. Did you know that most women-owned businesses are run out of a home office and employ fewer than five people? If you’re targeting female business owners it makes you think twice about choosing that stock image of the “business woman” wearing a skirt suit, stiletto heels and crossing her arms, doesn’t it? Luckily, Getty Images and Sheryl Sandberg’s organization, Lean In, have joined forces to release a fantastic new stock photo collection with 2,500 images breaking down stereotypes about gender roles, called the “Lean In Collection.”
4. Offer women incentives not discounts
Women are savvy shoppers and will look for the best offer, which may not always be price orientated. Providing a memorable experience will ensure women become loyal brand advocates. Take price out of the equation and focus on other benefits you can offer her; then communicate those incentives to her with sophisticated graphics that go straight to her inbox or Facebook feed. Can you provide a complementary service or partner with another business for mutual benefit?
Tootsies Boutique in California has 3 pedicure stations right in the middle of it and regularly offers pedicure specials as incentives to come shop for shoes. Take that online shopping! (Tootsies Boutique)
5. Address her ‘Invisible Others’
The real reason women buy more is actually not very exciting. In reality it’s because they purchase for others. In virtually every society around the world, women have primary-caregiving roles and as a result they are constantly evaluating how their shopping decisions will impact those they care about. Bridget Brennan author of Why She Buys says, “women are multiple markets in one. They are the gateway to everybody else.” When selling to a woman try to find out who else might be using the product, be it a new refrigerator, a television or a car; in doing so you will be able to point out specific features of the product that might appeal to their ‘invisible others’ and as a result remove hidden barriers to the sale.
If the product is specific to her, such as lingerie or shoes, create a dedicated entertainment zone in the store for her husband or child so she can shop at her leisure without guilt. Communicate these messages visually in your product brochures and in-store.
6. Surprise and delight her
When it comes to building a reputation for excellent customer service a key element is ‘surprise’. In their study (2001) on anticipation and emotion, Mellers and McGraw found that “surprising outcomes have greater intensity than expected outcomes. Surprise amplifies the emotional experience.” Women in particular are looking for extra, emotional reasons why they should care about a brand based on it caring about them.
Ritz-Carlton are the masters of ‘surprise and delight’. In an approach they call “Radar On – Antenna Up”, Ritz-Carlton employees are trained to anticipate the unexpressed needs of their guests and are empowered to act on them.
For example: “A couple arrives at the hotel, wife is six months pregnant. Normal service would be to observe and do nothing – at best help with the bags. But at Ritz Carlton, antenna up means they get a special pillow for sleeping and alcohol free sparkling cider instead of champagne.”
Empower your sales staff to respond and act on unspoken cues. Have beautiful stationery designed for personal handwritten notes to be sent to customers when a special occasion arises. After all it’s the little things that matter.
Article by Jennifer Crehan, Eloquence World Design
If you would like help designing professional communications and brand marketing for your female audience contact Jennifer at Eloquence World Design: