Tag Archives: Grey Advertising

Marketing to Women Messaging: How to Portray Women

It’s become clear to me that the world of marketing to women could use some refresher tips on how to portray women in advertising and other marketing messaging. Include some of these “Lucky 7” elements, and watch women flock to your brand.

Marketing to Women Messaging

Beyond ‘Respect’ to ‘Understanding’

Articles about communicating with women cite countless studies, surveys and anecdotes, which reveal that women feel marketers and salespeople don’t view them or treat them with respect. While that may be true, the term “respect” is so over-used and under-defined that is it generic and meaningless. What women mean by “respect” is  more akin to being understood. She wants to be listened to and accorded as much response as if the communication were coming from a man: a man who speaks up for what he wants and matter-of-factly expects to get it.

Better Real than Ideal

Women want to identify with your advertising. Female culture is all about commonality and empathy, not differentiation and aspiration. She’s looking for that flash of recognition that sparks a connection between her and the real people, real situations, real product usage and real reactions that tell her you get who she is.

Coping with Chaos

Today’s woman copes cheerfully with chaos (usually). She has to. She normally has a full-time job, primary responsibility for managing her household, and plenty of church, school and community activities to amuse her in her “spare time.” The aspect many marketing to women campaigns neglect to portray is that women no longer feel torn with guilt at not being supermom. Their houses aren’t spotless. Their kids are sometimes mouthy. They have the occasional bad hair day. And that’s okay; they’re fine with it. It’s advertisers who apparently live on Planet Perfect, and when women visit there, they don’t recognize a soul.

Cast More Women Who Aren’t 20-Year-Old Glamour Goddesses

A classic marketing to women study by Grey Advertising showed that 82% of women wish advertisers would recognize that they don’t want to look 18 forever. Forget the latest ditz-of-the-moment pop star and consider the attractive, normal-looking women of shows like Downton Abbey, House of Cards, and the new X-Files episodes that are scheduled (Gillian Anderson has never looked better!).

Choose Your Spokeswoman Wisely

Marketing to Women MessagingWhen choosing a spokesperson for your brand, keep in mind that women value empathy over envy in their role models. Women seem to like a role model better if she (or he) isn’t perfect. Oprah is one of the most widely admired women in America, and one of the things women like about her is that she struggles with a lot of the same things they do. In other words, go for less Miss America and more for Miss Real.

Reflect the New Definition of Beauty

Advertisers are very conscientious about including ethnic diversity in their marketing communications, but only a pioneer few are even beginning to show the age diversity and size diversity women are looking for. One of the cornerstones of female gender culture is inclusion, and women resent the rigidity of one standard of attractiveness. It’s time to let go of the “blondes have more fun” (and better looks, more money, higher status and better men) approach to beauty.

Tap into the ‘Girlfriend Factor’

The depth and meaning of a woman’s friendships are among the most treasured elements in her life. According to the Grey Advertising study cited above, 74% of women would like to see advertising show more women doing things together with their girlfriends, sisters and moms. Personal disclosure, constant contact and emotional expressiveness make up the core of the girlfriend factor, and each creates opportunities for emotional association with your brand.

The Marketing to Women Lag

In 1995, Grey Advertising published a story that explores women’s aspirations. This study is certainly old enough to have informed any company’s marketing to women efforts. Let’s compare what Grey Advertising found to some modern marketing samples, shall we?

The study found women aspired to:

  • Make the world a better place 85%
  • See kids become really successful 83%
  • Have enough time to do what I want 82%
  • Be more attractive 53%
  • Be younger 27%
  • Be famous 7%
  • Live like a movie star 5%

Look at this list carefully and think about whether the majority of women-targeted ads you see actually reflect women’s true values. Here’s a sampling of some recent advertising and copy:

Glamor copy from Mac

Bing advertises to women

Tom's marketing to women

Do you want to be a material girl?

Seems like most companies are lagging behind the research, eh? In the spirit of fairness, here are two ads that really seem to address women’s aspirations:

Gerber knows how to market to women.

Pepsi shows some good marketing to women.