In fact, so completely do women dominate the worlds of work and home in Meghalaya, that angry men formed a liberation group called Symbai Rimbai Tongbai. Most women in the state were unfazed by the development. "Nothing happens in the family unless we want it," the BBC quoted Julia Lyngdoh. "My husband leaves it all to me and same is the case throughout our state."
Well, here's breaking news for the rest of the world. While there is still a lot of patriarchy in the world, the spirit of Meghalaya is well and alive on the Internet, and in the great American marketplace. And marketers would do well to be cognizant of the importance of speaking to women.
Sometimes, numbers are worth more than a thousand words.
In 2009, Ad Age reported that women controlled $4.3 trillion of the $5.9 trillion in U.S. consumer spending, or 73% of household spending. And in a trend that continues to go up, up and away, DM News reported this year that women influence as much as 85% of the household purchases.
And moms (a subset of women) have a disproportionately high impact on the economy. Marketing Sherpa reports that the buying power of moms was over $2.1 trillion annually. The book, Trillion Dollar Moms, states that moms account for 55% of spending on consumer electronics and 51% of all food purchases in America.
So, no matter what your product category is, you might want to be targeting your message to women. At the BDI Conference hosted by CUNY in New York City in August, Matt Gentile, director of PR and Communication at Century 21, revealed that the entire social marketing effort of the real estate firm was geared to reach women.
"If it were left to my devices," he said, "I would still be in Florida. My wife played a very influential role in our moving and buying property in New York." And Century 21 is not alone. The marketing efforts of brands like Axe and Old Spice have women as the preferred demographic for both creative development as well as media placements.
But just what is the best way to get your message across to this highly influential segment? All roads point to the Internet.
According to the June 2010 UNICast What Women Want from the Web Report, 64% of women plan to use the Internet to find sales and compare prices whenever they plan to make a purchase, for small- and big-ticket items alike. In fact, women 18 to 24 are much more inclined to do this kind of comparison shopping research solely online.
"Plainly put, women are utilizing the Internet as a resource for simple and complex purchasing inquiries. They enjoy, arguably more so than men, educating themselves through the use of the Net," says Emily Carroll, manager, Strategic Insights, Leapfrog Interactive. "They're looking for more shortcuts to save time and money. In doing so, they're searching more, browsing more, consuming more content, and seeking input from their trusted friends and confidants online."
With these dynamics, social networking is especially important when it comes to marketing to women. Social networks like Facebook and community sites like Graco Nation enable women to make a connection with one another, and have discussions over a product, service or brand.
This is why marketers looking to get their message across to women effectively would not be advised to make one message and broadcast it to a wide audience. Instead, they can look to capture the basic contact information of an end user, build trust through relevant communications over a period of time, before extending the conversation to social networks.
And that's not all. Marketing to women via social networks requires a highly nuanced approach.
"There are vast differences in the way that men and women use social media," says Carroll. "Men might engage in games like Mafia Wars or post information about what they are doing, like attending a sporting event with their sons. Women, on the other hand, will typically discuss products they use and like as well as coupons or information about sales that are going on."
Huggies is a great example of a brand leveraging the unique dynamics of this segment to maximize the impact of its message. In its weekly email communications stream, Huggies embeds links to download a pregnancy countdown widget. Once an expectant mother downloads the widget, she can choose to embed it in her social networking profile. Huggies sends relevant information to the mom through the widget daily -- information that she can then share and discuss with her friends and other expectant moms.
The Old Spice viral video, "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like," is another great example of a brand using social media to get their message across to women effectively. Unless you have been staying underneath the great oil covered ocean, you've probably seen or at least heard of the commercial. According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the Old Spice YouTube channel has already garnered 75 million views -- and it shows no signs of slowing down.
In summary, no matter what your product, there's a good chance you should be talking to women. And for your campaign to be effective, they should find it easy to talk about you. As marketers have found out in recent years, the rewards of recognizing these shifts in market and marketing dynamics are manifold. It does appear that at least on the Internet, the spirit of the Khasi tribe has just received a massively new lease on life.