Commentary

Can We Trust Women With The Economy?

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.

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8 comments about "Can We Trust Women With The Economy?".
  1. Pamela Horovitz from Internet Video Archive , January 6, 2012 at noon
    My my, a bit cranky after the holidays, aren't we George? As a female in the 50-70 demo I'm going to point out that we generally don't have small children in tow anymore, could care less which sweater our kids put on in the morning, and have created accounts for our online shopping so that we don't even need to pull out the credit card anymore. (You don't really want to see us digging under our bra straps, do you?) I think the only relationship I want with a vendor is good service. As for teaching moments, we still engage in those from time to time, like now perhaps?
  2. George Simpson from George H. Simpson Communications , January 6, 2012 at 12:43 p.m.
    In the paragraph about why women and men should not shop together I must have left out the part about incompatible senses of humor. My mistake.
  3. Mary Hunt from In Women We Trust , January 6, 2012 at 1:46 p.m.
    Really? You want to go there?
  4. George Simpson from George H. Simpson Communications , January 6, 2012 at 4:47 p.m.
    Mary: congrats on the launch. Keep smiling. It will get you through the day.
  5. Madame Ovary from freelance , January 6, 2012 at 7:06 p.m.
    The last refuge of the patronizing; attempting to spin it as humor.
  6. John Grono from GAP Research , January 7, 2012 at 3:59 a.m.
    George, I haven't had my 'humour by-pass' operation yet - so I thought it was tongue-in-cheek funny.
  7. Mary Hunt from In Women We Trust , January 9, 2012 at 8:35 a.m.
    "Keep smiling, it will get me though the day"? Wow, this is like watching Mel Gibson in "What Women Want" before he could hear what women were really thinking.
  8. Anne Taylor from Event Television Network , January 10, 2012 at 7:16 p.m.
    poor little georgie, you must be in your eighties and definately a misogynist. men and women do shop together often and like it very much. there is a reason why women in that demographic are the most powerful enconomic group today. i am thankful your type will die out soon. your thinking is archaic and jejune it is obvious you have been very hurt by women and it is also obvious why you are alone.