Five steps to better brand engagement with female consumers

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Today’s ‘modern woman’ comes in many different forms and fulfils a wide variety of roles, therefore grouping and targeting of this audience is no longer as straight forward as some advertisers believe. With this in mind, it is no wonder that 40% of women were not able to pinpoint any advertising they found relevant; furthermore advertising by food marketers made 59% of women feel misunderstood.

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The basic attempts of brands to connect with the female audience simply do not take into account the complexity of being a women today and so leave these key consumers – 85% of all consumer spending is controlled by women – feeling patronised and frustrated at how they are viewed. This leaves marketers wondering ‘why wasn’t my campaign effective’ and the female audience further disengaged by the brands seeking to represent them.

What’s clear is that the female audience is vital to advertisers, so how can you better connect with them? We have found five guiding principles that can help to bridge the ever-widening gap.

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1. Know who you are talking to – a woman is an individual:
Women appreciate being approached on a more personal and individual level, not being pooled together in an all frills and flowers category and targeted simply as being opposite to men. A woman may go from being wife and mother to boss and businesswoman all in one day, and she wants to see this reflected in the brands she buys into.

2. Get Personal:
Most women are attracted to an emotion or lifestyle rather than the raw materials of a product. It is vital that a relationship be struck between brand and consumer by allowing her to relate to people, problems and experiences on a personal level. Campaigns using real women, real life stories and realistic situations have become more popular and are being used by companies such as Comfort, John Lewis, Dove and M&S.

3. A subtle message goes a long way:
Women are brand savvy, they shop across a wide range of products and this results in them having a greater design bandwidth than men. Design is appreciated more by women and the obvious, in-your-face approach can be a real turn off for them. The strong emotional connection that needs to be forged between the brand and female consumer is more successful when gently hinted at and the features of the product, intuitively understood by a woman, can be held back – no bullet points and tick boxes needed to tell her what it does. Take Huggies nappies which, with just one beautiful image, tap into mum’s raw emotional bond and desire to nurture and protect her new born baby. Women appreciate the consideration and thoughtfulness you have built into your design, so give her the little touches she will want to talk about, appeal to all her senses and make products easy and natural for her to use.

4. Engage in conversations:
Women don’t like being talked at. They want to be informed, make up their own minds and to take part in a two-way conversation. An engaged female consumer can be a powerful advocate for a brand. However, marketers must never take a woman’s relationship for granted. That’s something M&S, in its position as a favourite for the undies of the UK’s female population, learned to its detriment when it started charging for bigger bras. It incited a vocal backlash and had to backtrack quickly to limit the brand damage. Its solution, the ’We Boobed’ ad, is a neat example of another rule in brand conversations, though– always be open and honest. By owning up to its error of judgement M&S won hearts and minds.

5. Style should be attainable in every aspect of life:
Style and fashion are essential aspects of a woman’s everyday life. This means that looking good is just as important a goal for a brand as providing functionality. A great example of a brand that recognises this can be seen in Dulux’s Let’s Colour campaign and its new PaintPod products. Female orientated products such as perfume have understood this for some time, but more functional products, such as Method which makes environmentally friendly washing products, have also seriously upped the style stakes whilst retaining practicality – achieving great success as a result.

The effort involved in reaching female consumers is well worth the reward as, although they must be seen as individuals, together they are the world’s largest economic power. Not only that, once the connection has been made by a brand, women have a great propensity to tell everyone how great you are too! If you share the love with them, they’ll return the favour.

This guest post was written by Sam Ellison, Managing Partner, Redshoe Brand Design.

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