Why Market To Women?

D’nae Kingsley, Head of Strategy for Trailer Park/Engine Group kicked off her presentation on “Marketing to Women in the Fourth Wave of Feminism” with a number—a big number. $12.5 trillion. That’s the aggregated income of all women around the world. It’s an impressive number, but it pales in comparison to where things will be in 2018. By then there will be $18.5 trillion in global income from women and $40 trillion in consumer spending power at stake. Not only that, but women have disproportionate influence. Pinterest is 66% female. Tumblr is 72% female. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are 52%, 53%, and 70% respectively.

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It would seem natural, then, that marketing to women would be at the top of every marketer’s agenda. It’s not, at least according to women themselves. Study after study has found that marketing is simply not connecting. Researchers have found that up to 91% of women report that brands are not representing them.

Women, Kingsley said, have been searching for the strong female character in film and TV. Of late, she’s started to appear with some regularity. The marketing equivalent of that strong female character is also appearing with similar regularity. So, she asked, “what’s wrong?” To find out, Kingsley researched a group of 1200 women and found out that the traits they saw in the strong female characters out there were all laudable and meaningful.

Women saw these characters as

  • Intelligent
  • Tough
  • Strong willed
  • Beautiful
  • Self-confident

But Kingsley wanted to see what was not being represented, and what she found is revelatory. When asked what women wanted to see portrayed, what they saw in themselves that they wanted to see mirrored back, two new characteristics leapt out: compassion and independence. In fact, those characteristics indexed higher than many of the more obvious ones. Independence came in second, just behind intelligence while compassionate rated above self-confident. “Marketing to women,” Kingsley summed up, “is about marketing to the values that define who we are.”

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