In a MediaPost Engage: Boomers column earlier this week, Jim Gilmartin gave stats supporting the notion that women (especially between 50 and 70 years of age) are the world’s most powerful single demographic. But he warns: "Men’s selling typically doesn’t work with women. There are clear gender-based differences in perceptions, attitudes and communications styles. Women have a very different set of priorities, preferences and attitudes and they respond differently to media, messages, language and visuals."
Some of the marketing experts he quotes say things like: “A woman knows her children’s friends, hopes, dreams, romances, secret fears, what they are thinking, how they are feeling. Men are vaguely aware of some short people also living in the house.” and “Men and women don’t think the same way, don’t communicate the same way, don’t buy for the same reasons... He simply wants the transaction to take place. She’s interested in creating a relationship. Every place women go, they make connections.”
One supposes that the takeaway is that if marketers appeal to the female “I’m in charge!” “Connect with me!” sensibility, there are billions more to be made. But all that yearning to "connect" all the time has its downsides.
Who of the male persuasion hasn't encountered two women who have abandoned their shopping carts in mid-aisle -- causing backups like rush hour on the LIE -- to "chat"? Gilmartin might characterize this as a seminal moment in marketing because they are probably recommending brands to one another -- but no, they are instead expressing superficial, insincere interest in the educational progress of each other's offspring. From my perspective, leave all commerce to women, and our GNP will be Greek-like in a matter of months.
Why, when a mom has children in tow, does it become a "teaching moment" anytime the little rugrat reaches for a sugary snack not on the shopping list? You might call this "nurturing," but it is no more effective than the usual adult male response of "If you don't put that back, I am going to smack you with this baguette." In fact, it only invites Junior to give it another shot in the next aisle traveled.
And yes, I AM "vaguely aware of some short people also living in the house.” They come to me because they want to go to the movies without suffering through a Torquemada-like inquisition about who else is going and what the rating is.
But the real drag on female-driven commerce is the inability to walk into a store, buy precisely (and only) what is required to complete the task at hand, and walk out. I can buy a car faster than my wife can decide on what color a sweater should be for one of our kids. It is entirely NOT necessary to weigh all the options, see it from every angle, consider every possibility and project entertainment circumstances that occur only once a millennium, in order to make a purchase.
This is why men and women do not shop together. If they did, there would be carnage at the mall to make Rooney Mara look like a graduate of Miss Porter's.
Finally, you would think that experience would dictate that at the end of your shopping excursion, you will be asked to present your credit card. Never fails. It is the same card that now sits in the darkened recesses of your purse. Wait not until your last grocery is bagged to begin the fruitless and time-consuming search. Before you even enter the store, slip it into a bra strap or some other handy compartment that doesn't require a Big Dig. This small step alone will improve productivity enough to launch the long-awaited recovery.
With leadership comes great responsibility.