When you come home from a busy day at work ready to relax, unwind and watch some good television, you are bombarded with gender-targeted adverts aimed at attracting us to their product. For us girls it’s washing up liquid, miracle age-defying creams and of course those amazing women on roller-skates with periods!
Going slightly off topic here, but if you have a spare five minutes you really should watch the video response from Bodyform to a rant by a confused boyfriend about periods. A brilliant piece of customer relationship management!
Then there’s the ads targeting men. Age-defying super cars and a plethora of razor blades that are turbo, supreme, powerful or whatever is the latest improvement that they must have or girls won’t fancy them. As these are aimed at men, I’ve pretty much forgotten them before the advert has even finshed.
We are all aware that focusing your ad-campaign on your target audience by location, career level, purchasing authority or whatever else could influence it, does get your message across to those people who are most likely to be interested in the product or service you are offering.
However in business, gender does not seem to be one of the demographics that is used. Personally I haven’t seen any examples (let me know if you have) and I’m wondering why not? Are business marketers overlooking an important demographic group here?
Clearly men and women think in (very) different ways. We purchase things differently and we often do business differently too.
Like it or not, there are always roles and companies that seem to attract more women than men and vice versa. This is not to say that either does a role better than another, but there are certain sectors, such as HR and secretarial roles, that do seem to have a higher ratio of female employees than in sectors such as law and accountancy.
Times are definitely changing though. Women in the workplace have moved on from being minority players to majority players and have become decision makers across all levels within most organisations.
In fact, the 2012 Female FTSE Board Report by Cranfield Management states that 89 FTSE 100 companies now have women directors. And did you know that for the last 20 years women have started up more new businesses than men? In the US, 7.8 million businesses are also owned by women (say lots of websites).
Combine this with the fact that women are generally better at networking and resourcing (including shopping!) than men. Plus we use the Internet more often and are more likely to look for new connections and resources to give us the best help. Taking all of this into account so far, what does it take to market well to women?
Firstly, getting the language right is important. I feel that in too many business to business (B2B) communications the language used is very male targeted, and don’t even get me started on the imagery. It also really helps not to call her Mr or Sir! (“Dear Sirs” is so frequently used).
Maxine Marshall, deputy editor of B2B Marketing magazine says….
In the workplace, gender-based marketing could be very beneficial for certain brands. However, it is extremely difficult to get it right as it’s very easy to cause irritation and come across as patronising to females.
For example, in the workplace there are products used by both men and women, so to market those to women using stereotypical targeted marketing tactics could backfire. Unfortunately many women do tend to adopt a ‘male’ attitude in the workplace to help them progress.
There was a recent campaign targeted at female HR directors that I felt was particularly sexist and patronising. It personified a piece of software as a “sexy and straight-talking assistant” who the designers thought would appeal to the predominantly female community in HR. Take a look, would she appeal to you?
Women want to be seen doing a great job, working hard, and to feel proud of what they’ve achieved. They don’t want to be overlooked because of their sex, but I’m not sure they want to be recognised for it either. In business marketing it is necessary to be aware of the audience you’re trying to appeal to, but not to single them out too much.
What do you guys think? Do you feel gender-targeted marketing is a demographic that should be used in business, or do you think it’s just not necessary?