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Milestone Marketing to Boomer Women

Milestone Marketing to Boomer Women

Milestone marketing is the practice of focusing on major changes in customers’ lives and developing strategies to help them during the transition. Boomer women will be transitioning through many milestones in the next few years, and marketing to them at each stage can be very rewarding for relevant brands.

All milestones have two qualities in common:

1.     The incremental tasks and logistics are almost always handled by the woman.

2.     There is usually a substantial emotional component.

Chances are that Boomer women are more skillful than younger women at handling both the logistics and the emotions because they have more experience and are equipped with greater equanimity.

Boomer women have very specific milestones to their stage of life. There are the difficult ones: the 3 D’s – Divorce, Death and Diagnosis of disease. And the more positive but still challenging transitions to a new job, new home, new husband, daughter’s wedding, first grandchild and so forth.

Milestones are the markers at the beginning of a new phase, characterized by high demands on time, money and transitional skills. By their very nature, milestones create new and urgent spending needs. Therefore, marketing professionals should anticipate these needs and be where Boomer women will be looking for information to guide them through these transitions.

Milestone marketing can be a very effective targeting strategy. Those marketing to Boomer women at a time when they are particularly likely to be looking for help might consider focusing their product, services and marketing communications on one or more Boomer milestones. The media vehicles are easy to find because each milestone has its own vehicle. And you have the advantage of knowing what her most pressing problem is at that moment, so you know how to help right then and there.

9 Key Differences Between Men and Women That Affect Your Marketing Approach

Key Differences Between Men and Women That Affect Your Marketing Approach

These nine key gender differences should affect your marketing approach to both men and women. (Just because men and women differ doesn’t mean one way is “right” and another “wrong” – they are simply different perspectives).

1. Men Pay Less Attention to People; Women Are People Powered

Men hold the view that people are important, but no more so than current events, new ideas or cool gadgets. Women think that people are the most important and interesting element in life, and they are oriented this way from birth.

2. Men Are Soloists; Women are Ensemble Players

Men look at the world from the perspective of the individual. Their core unit is “me.” Freedom-that is autonomy, independence-is one of men’s highest values. Women see themselves-and everybody, really-as part of an ensemble company. Their core unit is “we.” They take pride in their caring, consideration and loyalty to and for others.

3. Men Do Unto Themselves; Women Do Unto Others

Men view themselves first as individuals, then as citizens of a community. Women view themselves first as members of a community, then as individuals. They feel responsible for people who need help, and they open their wallets to support companies that care, too.

4. Men Aspire to be Winners; Women Prefer to Be Warmer

Men think competition is fun. It’s built into how they work, play and communicate. Their professional and personal lives are often seen as a contest. Because of this, men’s mentality is rooted in concealing; any imperfection could be construed as a sign of weakness. To women, interaction is fun. Conflict is not. Playing is fun, but losing isn’t-somebody’s feelings are going to get hurt. Women focus on teamwork and have an instinct to trust and share.

5. Men Occupy a Pyramid; Women Occupy a Peer Group

In a man’s worldview, groups naturally fall into hierarchies, with some people “naturally” ahead of others. He relates to other people in comparative terms like higher or lower, faster or slower, bigger or smaller. The goal is to be at the top of the pyramid. Women view people as equal-no one person’s interests comes ahead of anyone else’s. Her outlook is relational without being comparative: similar to or different from, know her or don’t know her. Women don’t particularly want to be looked up to any more than being looked down upon.

6. Men Are Driven by Envy; Women Are Driven by Empathy

Men are motivated by the operating principle of aspiration. They are evolutionarily programmed to win. And when they do, they will be admired by envious peers. The operative emotion with women is empathy. Women want to belong and to be understood. They’re most likely to relate to the premise, “Yep, that looks like my life. If that product works for her, it will work for me too.” Whereas men want to be admired, women want to be appreciated.

7. Men Respond to Idealized Scenarios; Women Are into Keeping it Real

Men want products and services that will make them stand out from the crowd, and they respond to scenarios that let them imagine themselves as the best, the first, the top dog. When women see idealized scenarios, they don’t identify with them. In fact, they may conclude that the company’s products are for “someone else.” Instead, women look for “that’s me!” moments-they tell her you understand who she really is.

8. Men Like Buddies to Do Stuff With; Women Can’t Live Without Talking to Girlfriends

True male bonding can occur without a word being spoken. Men bond through activities like going to a ballgame or going fishing. Women bond through talking, and their relationships with their close women friends are some of the most cherished elements in their lives. Men are inclined to think of other people as a drain on their energy, while women view others as a source of energy.

9. Men Can Be Offended by Advice; Women Welcome It

Men don’t like asking for advice or seeking out help-they feel it frames them as “one down” from the other guy. Women see advice as valuable and are more likely to seek and welcome assistance from other people, including salespeople and financial advisors.

The New Workforce: 81% of Boomers Will Keep Working

The New Workforce: 81% of Boomers Will Keep Working Turning 65 (or up to 67, these days) isn’t what it used to be. Gone is the era of expectantly awaiting retirement on your 65th birthday. According to the AARP, 81% of today’s Boomers intend to keep working well into their 70s.

Why Aren’t Boomers Retiring?

Unsurprisingly, many Boomers delay retirement because they need the money. They have a long way to go to fund any unemployed retirement. And many want to keep their health benefits. However, there are also other reasons. Boomers want to be mentally engaged. They want to feel appreciated and like they are continuing to make a contribution. They also like the camaraderie and teamwork.

Here are some statistics from the AARP on why Boomers will keep working past their official “retirement age.”

Why Boomers Aren’t Retiring
Need the money 61%
Need the health benefits 52%
Desire to stay physically active 49%
Desire to remain productive or useful 47%
Desire to do something fun or enjoyable 37%
Desire to help other people 29%
Desire to be around other people 24%
Desire to learn new things 17%
Desire to pursue a dream 14%

From our Girlfriend Groups, we gained some insight into why Boomer women prefer to keep working. Here’s what Colleen and Susan had to say:

“Work is my most important source of joy; for everyday social life, stimulation, travel, learning and challenge… I also enjoy drawing, singing lessons with my husband and a varying cast of gospel singers, movie club, book club, etc.” – Colleen, 56

“I was semi-retired and returned to work full time. I like to get up in the morning and have a place to go. I also missed the personal work ‘relationships.'” – Susan, 62

From a marketing perspective, companies must soon realize that the stereotypical “retirement age” consumer in all likelihood won’t actually be retired. The oldest Boomers are just now turning 67, so they have years of work ahead of them. There will be little sitting around on the couch watching TV sitcom re-runs or Hallmark Channel movies while knitting and sipping tea. Is your marketing team ready to communicate with these active Boomers?

Marketing to Women Retail Tip: Don’t Waste Her Time (or Yours)

Marketing to Women Retail Tip: Don’t Waste Her Time (or Yours)

Okay, retailers, you’ve started doing a pretty good job recognizing the importance of marketing to women. But let me give you a little tip-don’t waste a woman’s time. Women give more consideration to context and have a greater sensitivity to their surroundings than men. When a woman walks into a car dealership, a doctor’s office or a bank, she immediately starts receiving and assessing signals that will factor into her overall impression of the product and company. What a golden moment to send her a message! Instead, many companies let her stand-or sit-waiting.

Waiting Time Can Kill Your Brand

Studies show that waiting time is overwhelmingly the single most important factor affecting a shopper’s opinion of store service. It’s likely that it affects women even more than men, because multi-taskers (most likely women) feel they’re being kept from moving ahead on several additional projects. To “uni-taskers,” (usually men) waiting, though frustrating, is still on task and still oriented toward the sole goal they are pursuing.

A few principles of retail design, office décor and even common courtesy can go a long way toward overcoming her sensation of wasting time-and your mistake of wasting opportunity:

1.     Reduce waiting time for routine tasks by providing alternatives. An example would be check-in at a business hotel, where there are always long lines around 3PM when rooms become available. Instead of having customers wait in line to obtain a key from a desk clerk, why not set up kiosks in the lobby? Guests could insert a credit card and receive an e-key plus directions to the room.

2.     Make waiting time more productive. Some places, like Jiffy Lube, and doctors’ offices, have waiting time built-in. In that case, help her make good use of it. Recognizing that 65% of auto repair/maintenance visits are handled by women, Jiffy Lube offers free Wi-Fi and HD TV in many locations.

3.     Offer some modest amenities and courtesies. Jiffy Lube, as part of its very savvy program to capture the women’s market, redesigned its waiting rooms to make them more appealing to women with new furniture and color schemes, free bottled water and Starbucks coffee, and women’s interest magazines.

As you see, it doesn’t cost a lot to make waiting time more amenable for women-just pay attention to how women prefer to spend their time.

The Evolution of Your Marketing to Women Endeavors

Marketing to Women isn’t Over Once You Launch-Listen and Adjust

Evolution of Marketing to Women

The Japanese term kaizen means “continuous improvement.” Just as with any unfamiliar new endeavor, don’t expect to get marketing to women perfect on the first try. No matter how much prelaunch research you do, the consumer will always teach you something when you least expect it (Remember New Coke? How about Motrin’s infamous “baby wearing” campaign?) Your research results are essential to kaizen. Without feedback, you can’t know what to flaunt and what to fix (although women will let you know in a big way if you do something patently offensive like Motrin launched-try to avoid that!).

Successful marketing to women requires gender-savvy tactics aimed at the five stages in the consumer-planning process:

1.     Activation

2.     Nomination

3.     Investigation and Decision

4.     Retention

5.     Recommendation

For women, this process is a Spiral Path.

Women's Spiral Path

See larger version of the Spiral Path

Without concrete marketing strategies for each stage, the female market will either remain ignored or slip through your grasp. Don’t let it get away. With a strong product or service enhanced by gender-savvy communications that are constantly tweaked based on your feedback research, you will ensure that the women’s market is knocking on your door instead of on your competitor’s.

How to Prove Marketing to Women Works

How to Prove Marketing to Women Works

If you are leading the marketing to women charge in an organization skeptical of the power of the purse, it is imperative you capture the results that validate your program’s impact. Build measures that track the impact of your marketing to women initiatives– these systems aren’t easy to implement and are hardly ever free, but they are essential to overcoming corporate inertia.

Tracking must be comprehensive and should include elements such as:

  • Brand preference
  • Sales
  • Repeat purchases
  • Customer satisfaction

Measure men as well as women. Many companies fear that by reaching out to women, they may alienate men. But the opposite is actually true-because women have a longer list of wants and seek the Perfect Answer, improving effectiveness with women tends to boost customer satisfaction among men. Track it and prove it.

Presales Indicators Will Be Key

Because women’s decision cycle is longer than men’s, it’s likely that you will see presales indicators from female consumers before you notice strong improvement in actual sales. These indicators might include:

  • Increased awareness
  • More favorable perceptions
  • Increased requests for information and sales materials

Given the pressure companies face to deliver quarter by quarter, your ability to sustain marketing to women programs throughout the ramp-up time may depend on your ability to demonstrate preliminary movement in the right direction using these “stand-in” measures.

How to Track Presales Indicators

Quantitative surveys conducted via phone, mail or online and mall-intercept are a great way to track changes in women consumers’ awareness of, attitude towards and interest in your product at the expense of your competitors.

Given that the competitive future of your company may well depend on its ability to market successfully to women, it would be a really good idea to put those tracking systems into place right from the start.

If You Can’t Count it, Does it Exist?

If you can't count it, does it exist?

Not every company is structured to measure the results of their marketing efforts by gender, which makes determining the success of marketing to women strategies difficult-if not impossible. If you can’t measure something, is it worth doing at all?

I’d like to remind you of the McNamara Fallacy, former U.S. secretary of defense Robert McNamara’s answer as to what led the U.S. to defeat during the Vietnam War. Charles Handy outlined the fallacy in The Age of Paradox:

The McNamara Fallacy

Step One: Measure whatever can be easily measured. This is OK as far as it goes.

Step Two: Disregard that which can’t be easily measured, or give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading.

Step Three: Presume that what can’t be measured easily really isn’t important. This is blindness.

Step Four: Say that what can’t be easily measured doesn’t really exist. This is suicide.

Ideally, your company will start to collect gender-specific data to effectively measure response to marketing to women (and men!) efforts. In the meantime, though, avoid falling into the trap of assuming that what can’t be easily measured isn’t important or doesn’t exist. You don’t want to be either blind or suicidal, now do you?

3 Tips for Better Focus Groups with Women

Better Focus Groups with WomenWomen-only focus groups will yield more honest answers from women-the best group of customers for helping you differentiate your brand on the details. Here are three nontraditional research approaches to help you conduct better focus groups with women.

1. Girlfriend Groups

Developed and refined by the LeoShe division of the venerable Leo Burnett advertising agency, these girlfriend groups are like a new generation of the Tupperware parties of old. The researcher meets with a group of women who all know each other at the home of one of the group’s participants. A familiar environment and a known group make the members more relaxed; they feel more able to be themselves rather than focusing on delivering answers to a moderator.

In addition, in the home environment women are closer to the point of usage of the product-and therefore more likely to be in touch with the details that make a difference.

Because they all know each other, they keep each other honest. Admit it: if you believed everything you heard in a conventional focus group, you’d think no woman ever fed her child those “evil” sugared cereals. (So who buys them, the little Irish elf on the box?) But if Melanie hears Joanne saying that she always feeds her kids the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, Melanie is likely to call her on it, “Oh please,” she’ll laugh, “You may be serving Alex two helpings of vegetables each night, but he eats dinner at my house with Simon two or three nights a week, and I guarantee you he isn’t eating them.” That’s when the researcher learns that Melanie has been hiding the vegetables by pureeing them into spaghetti sauce, salad dressing, and even waffle batter-an interesting idea, if you’re a food company looking to build share among moms.

2. What We Learned from Oprah

This type of group is a provocative and highly effective format developed by Mary Lou Quinlan, founder and president of Just Ask a Woman. Modeled on the television talk-show format, 35-40 women in the target segment are recruited to be in a mock TV audience.

Quinlan hosts the show herself, leveraging her lively wit and sparkling personality to charm the candor out of her guests. The show is taped, just like a broadcast and edited to highlight the key revelations that come out of the session. In this way, the “folks at home”-whether that means sales personnel in the field or senior executives at headquarters-can hear what their customers have to say “in-person” instead of on paper.

3. Brand Champion Focus Groups

In this approach, brand fans talk to nonbelievers. It’s an innovative and excellent way to learn the language and priorities that women bring to your brand. Find a group of women who love your brand, and put them in a room with people who either haven’t heard of it or are predisposed against it. Give them a little time to get to know each other. This is important because without some points of commonality, your enthusiasts won’t have a feel for where to start or what to emphasize.

After some time together, switch the group dynamic from “tell me” to “sell me.” Ask your brand champions to talk about how they heard about the product, why they tried it, and what happened the first time they used it. Let the “prospects” ask questions and raise objections-and listen to how your advocates answer. This insider’s look at women’s word of mouth will help you develop marketing communications content and approaches that are compelling and on point with the reality of women’s interactions with your brand. In effect, your group will tell you how to overcome resistance to your product or service.

Girl Talk: Getting the Most Out of Your Focus Group Market Research

Girl Talk - Women's Focus Groups

Even for gender-neutral products, conduct some focus groups for “women only.” Why? In “Marketing to Women: Communication Keys” I explained that male and female communication styles are considerably different. Sociolinguists like Dr. Deborah Tannen have found that groups of mixed gender default to male patterns of conversation and interaction. Women become more reserved and less participatory. They don’t play the competitive “game” that prevails when men are expressing divergent opinions, and because they are less likely to interrupt, hold the floor, or insist on their opinions, they simply won’t offer as much information.

And you need that information. While men can give you the big picture, the broad brushstrokes about a product or marketing response, women can give you something different-and more helpful to your marketing research.

As we know, women are more likely to perceive detail and nuance and to think in the context of people and lifestyle. And the details that are important are the ones that related to people and lifestyle, not technical specs or performance stats. In these days where every marketer is trying to differentiate his brand from a host of very similar products and services, it’s the details that make the difference.

If you structure your research to let them, women can give you feedback and ideas to help you improve your product, merchandising, store environment, delivery, customer service and online presence. Talking to women-or rather, listening to them-is the best way to provide yourself with the points of difference that will make or break you versus the competition.

Because make is definitely preferable to break, in the next article, we’ll look at three nontraditional approaches to market research. These are designed to tap into women’s energy and honesty when they’re talking to each other.

For Boomer Women, Life is Grand as a Grandma

For Boomer Women, Life is Grand as a GrandmaThe average age of a first-time grandparent is 48-and in a couple years, 60% of all grandparents will be Boomers. Believe it or not, that’s the average, not youngest. There are a lot of grandparents actually younger than 48. With today’s life expectancy of 77.9 years, they may have as many as 30 years of grandparenting ahead of them. There are 70 million grandparents in the United States today, representing 1/3rd of the US adult population- and heading 37% of all households.

Because of the higher mortality rate for men, grandparents are disproportionately female. And today’s grandmothers are different from any generation of grandmothers that have come before them. Jean Giles-Sims, a sociologist as Texas Christian University specializing in grandparenting, describes today’s grandmothers, “I call them ‘empowered.’ And they’ve got much more money.”

The Boomer woman of today has changed the face of grandmothering. At 48-and 58 and 68-she is no longer the ever-available babysitting, watching Laugh-In reruns with her knitting on her lap. She’s too busy working, hanging out with friends, hiking and biking, taking computer classes and going to the latest Eric Clapton or Paul McCartney concert. She enjoys having the little ones around-and enjoys having the little ones go home. And she’s unapologetic about it all.

The Boomer grandmother of today is just as likely to be like Christine Crosby, founder of GRAND magazine, who skates, does yoga and videoconferences with her grandchildren. GRAND has featured celebrity grandparents on the cover such as Martin Sheen, Cokie Roberts, Goldie Hawn and Paul McCartney. It’s a great resource for learning about the intergenerational issues of today, with toy and book reviews, vitality and wellness, fiscal fitness and financial insights and so on. Since it’s 2004 launch, circulation has increased to 250,000, signaling a definite interest in the new definition of grandparenthood for Boomers.

Today’s grandparents are going all out in terms of developing lasting relationships with their grandchildren because they are looking back at their busy workaholic Boomer lives and realizing some of the things they gave up. Their need to leave a legacy comes on strong with their own children’s children.

The Power of Grandmother’s Purse

In the 2012 AARP Modern Grandparents study, we see a majority of grandparents spend $250-$1000+ on their grandchildren each year, with 55% saying the economy has not affected their spending. From the AARP’s 2002 Grandparent Study, here are some of the reasons grandparents spend money on their grandchildren:

AARP Study

AARP Study

Today’s Boomer woman helps with piano lessons, takes the kids to Disneyworld, introduces them to the theatre and takes them out to eat. She travels to see them. She contributes mightily to their college funds. One grandmother I know bought her newborn grandchild 100 shares of GE stock and has purchased shares as gifts for every birthday and Christmas.

This speaks to the exponential influence that the Boomer woman will continue to have on their families, immediate and extended. We heard echoes of this in our PrimeTime Woman research. Here’s an example from Willia, age 67:

“I do a lot for my kids. My oldest granddaughter is going to school, and I am going to help pay for that.”

As marketing professionals consider this delightful life stage for Boomer women, they must understand the reality of the active, caring, robust grandparents of today. Life is grand as a grandma-and Boomer women expect you to know who she really is.