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Marketing To Women: It’s All About R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is “What does a woman want?”—Sigmund Freud

There’s been so much written about marketing to women over the past few years, so we’re not going to talk about the purchasing power of women (they control over 80% of household purchases) or how they are biologically and culturally different than men (they are). You already know all that. We want to delve into what women want in a retail purchase experience. 

Last summer, we traveled throughout the country, conducting focus groups to answer just that

question. We examined what brings them into the market, where they conduct their research, the criteria they use in creating a “short list” of acceptable products and retailers and, once they enter a store, what can make or break the sale. What resulted was a clear picture of what women want – and how to best reach them.

Women want a lot of things, but ultimately, they want to be respected. Treat them with respect, and honor the fact that they have different needs when it comes to researching, shopping and, ultimately, buying.

Over time, changes in society and technology have changed women’s shopping habits. The internet and new media have empowered women by giving them the ability to have access to the tools and information they need to make well-researched, knowledgeable decisions. As marketers, we need to: 

  • Treat them as smart and savvy consumers – in our stores and in our marketing efforts.
  • Leverage the power of word of mouth – women have the innate ability to sell what they believe in, so connect with them by truly understanding where they’re coming from, what brought them in and, most importantly, what you can do to help. 
  • Continuously raise the bar when it comes to making information quick and easy to find, use and share — both in-store and online.
  • Make time a premium – women will reward sources that make the investigation process more efficient, relevant and accurate. 

Social and political forces are contributing to the hunger for truth and meaning – corporate scandals and the continuing threat of terrorism have made women focus on what really matters to them most – their homes and families.   They can see through all the hype that abounds in the marketplace today and want honesty. In fact, there’s somewhat of a backlash against ads that present impossible standards of beauty. women connect with messages and imagery that make her say, “Yes, that’s me.” 

If you can connect with female shoppers before and beyond the transaction – and become a trusted resource – you’ll build loyalty. And, a loyal customer is key to long-term success.

Bottom line, respect where she’s coming from, the time and effort she’s already put into researching the product she’s buying and, most of all, respect the fact that she has many choices and she’s come to you. 

With more than 30 years of combined experience, Kathryn Baird and Kim Hiltachk of Torus Marketing provide expert consultation services and develop award-winning, results-focused campaigns for clients such as BrandSource, the $11 billion dollar, 3,000+ member-strong buyer’s group, and the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA).  Over the past two decades, Kathryn and Kim have worked with Amtrak California, DirecTV, Sutter Health, Sizzler Restaurants and Tahiti Tourism, among others.  To learn more about what Torus Marketing has to offer in terms of branding, advertising, promotions, marketing, and media planning and buying services, please email [email protected], [email protected] or visit