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‘What Women Want’ When Shopping For CE

Coronado, Calif. – Suppliers and retailers at the recent Professional Audio Retailers Association (PARA) Management Conference got an earful about marketing to women in a spirited seminar called “What Women Want: Selling Home Entertainment Systems to Benefit Her Lifestyle.”

The session was led by Carol Campbell, business development director of Marketing Matters, who emphasized the following points:

  • The major social change of our time has to do with the lives of women;
  • Retailers must pay attention to how women wish to live, and what they want or need, or they will be left behind;
  • The industry should acknowledge the value of the female customer;
  •  Identify your customer and qualify your audience;
  •  Address her needs with benefits;
  • Build a plan of resources and develop a plan of action.

Campbell said that if you do all of that, retailers, and manufacturers too for that matter, will “capture your share of female buying power.”

She illustrated her points with statistical facts and observations. First off, Campbell said that surveys have shown that “81 percent of buying decisions in this economy are made by women, in both business and consumer purchases.” And she quoted U.S. Census Bureau numbers that “28 percent of all U.S. households are headed by females. There is a potential 30 percent uptick in your sales if you sell women.”

But to do so, Campbell said, “You must provide a comfort level” for female shoppers. And the not-so-secret problem with consumer electronics retailers is that “Women have been disrespected and ignored when shopping for CE products that we don’t understand.”

Campbell noted that in most cases, “Women love the shopping experience. It is all about the experience. You have to be entertaining! Some stores generate fun and confidence. How you design your stores is very important. Good stores steal from each other. And you must keep up with changes in our culture.”

But in many cases women don’t like the CE shopping experience because retailers don’t cater to females, don’t know what they want and don’t qualify their needs, Campbell said. To be successful in selling women home entertainment systems, “Emphasize simplicity. Translate the features simply and focus on qualitative benefits. Women want reliable, beautiful products that they are interested in using.” Basically, it was her contention that women want home entertainment systems that are reliable, beautiful and easy to use, and that match the decor of their homes.

Campbell said surveys have shown that “Women take technologies and turn them into appliances. They strip even the fanciest gizmo of all that is mysterious and all of its jargon in order to determine its usefulness.” Meanwhile, their male counterparts “are in love with the technology itself, with the gee-whiz factor.”

Women buy benefits, and Campbell noted how marketers of the Wonder Bra, Allure perfume and Glamour magazine have been successful because “they made compelling benefit statements to women for years.”

She also noted that women “are the best networkers. They will do the research and will follow the best. Surveys show that 70 percent of women learn the most about a new product from someone they know who owns one.” They also check Web sites, visit stores and partake in event marketing.

Therefore, Campbell said, “Women buy from confidence, their belief in their research, and who they are buying from.” And she told her audience of CE retailers and suppliers, “You are part of a pre-eminent category. No industry can compete with a great A/V system and the experience you get when you press a button.”

She noted that women customers “can help you a lot, or if you don’t treat them properly, can hurt you a lot.” What’s more, women customers are “more profitable customers” since they are “more loyal. While they are more demanding in making a critical purchase, you recoup that time investment by their being more loyal.” And since they are more loyal, “they are more likely to recommend brands and retailers they like.”

Campbell suggested that retailers cater their media messages to women by incorporating imagery that they like or are familiar with. She noted, “Staples ads are like grocery ads. Why? Their target audience is the same … women! Take a page from its strategy.”

She also suggests that retailers and suppliers should “get women talking about you” by delivering surveys on their Web sites, creating links to third-party sources or magazine articles, and sending e-mails asking women in their target audience for input on products and services. Campbell also suggests that marketers “buy a list from a women’s magazine of 25- to 54-year-olds” and communicate directly to them, and to push cross-promotions “with jewelry stores and other luxury goods retailers.”