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Sounding Off: Melissa Ann Andrews “Marketing to Female Shoppers – More Than a Niche Market”


melissa.andrewssMelissa Ann Andrews has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, a Master of Arts in Organizational Training and Development, coaching, six sigma and online instructional certificates.

Isn’t it interesting that some studies show that women buy or influence 80% of all consumer good purchases? The same studies show that women buy 51% of consumer electronics and have influence over 80% of family health care decisions and spend $4 trillion annually. Isn’t it also interesting that in mass retail, women are often overlooked as a major market and considered a specialty group? With the current lagging economy, many companies are being forced to re-visit their marketing strategies. Focusing on one of the largest consumer groups of women seems like a no-brainer to boost sales.

It is surprising that it has taken a failing economy for large companies to realize the power of this segment. Marketing firms, computer and car companies, the snack food industry and even pharmaceutical corporations have all changed their sales schemes over the last few years trying to capture the female audience. Smart companies are the ones that are changing their customer service training and consumer policies to include effective ways that women are responding to when shopping and buying goods.

Women are often the ones who are responsible for feeding their families and maintaining the household budget. Statistics show that 40% of households are run by women with 22.7% out earning their husbands in households where both spouses work.

Women over 55 are the fastest growing age group on the net. 48% of investors in the stock market are women. With that type of influence, why would women still be considered a specialty group? Here are some things that you can do to consider to improve your marketing plan for women as a consumer group.

1. Connecting female consumers to each other connects them to your brand. They like to belong to a community of other shoppers. Some successful stores have used blog sites, surveys, focus groups, Facebook and the internet to improve their personalization. Re-evaluate your website’s language and store policies. It is more than just having pictures of women demonstrating the products. Incorporate higher information delivery and customer service standard development into your products based on information gathered from these community opportunities. Remember, women are three times as likely to learn about your product from other women. Communication and networking may be the cheapest advertising that you have ever had.

2. Market to all facets of women’s lives – Women are multitaskers. More women are single parents, working outside the home and taking care of household responsibilities more than ever before. Due to this, women prefer less product selection due to limited shopping time and better quality. Price is important but convenience and ease are gaining ground as a key reason that women will choose your product or store.

3. Women want businesses that anticipate their needs. If they have to ask, it is too late. This follows closely with number one. Women want someone to pay attention to them and understand what they want when they come in to shop. They don’t want to have to chase down and salesperson to ask fifteen questions. They don’t have time. They want a good product that is self-explanatory and meets their needs.

4. Loyalty is also important. Morals, courtesy, and connection are frequently chosen over price and the rating of a company. It doesn’t matter necessarily that a company is rated number one in consumer polls. It matters if that company had what they needed. It has also been shown in surveys that women will stay with a store that has associates that help them feel important and valued. Being ignored by sales people was listed as a main reason that women would stop shopping at a store. The top complaint for women while shopping is lack of help when needed. Women were also found to be angry while shopping if employees intruded on conversations. Male shoppers list finding parking and out of stocks as issues that will cause them to leave a store. Men also listed laziness to check for products as reasons to be angry with a store. This information alone shows you that the experience is critical for female shoppers. Are your salespeople asking questions based on the needs of your customer? Are they making assumptions based on gender? Are your store displays set up so that a female shopper can easily find what they need intuitively?

Women aren’t really a niche market as some marketing specialists suggest. They are a powerful and large group of consumers that control a significant piece of purchasing power. If companies can change their strategies to cater to this group instead of focusing on them as a stereotype, they may find a new windfall of sales opportunities. Customizing the shopping experience based on your research will definitely be worth the effort and your time. Your female shoppers and your bottom line will thank you for it.

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