Commentary

... And Don't Call Me Baby: Marketing To Today's Women

She’s held slumber/book parties in Nordstrom stores around the country for the KN Karen Neuburger pajama brand; wrapped Shuttle by United airplanes in giant red bows for the holidays; and featured Ivory baby finalists in old-fashioned bath tubs on “Good Morning America.” She’s led the PR campaigns for some of the biggest brands in the world including Procter & Gamble, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and Disney Interactive. And she’s reached millions of women with key message points in the process. Now she’s helping other marketers learn how to reach women without, well, missing the point.

Meet Linda Landers, president of Girlpower Marketing, a public relations and marketing consultancy that is “committed to creating exceptional communications programs that help clients understand and address the authentic needs, opinions, and wisdom of women in a way that helps them deepen their relationships with this key consumer.” 

I recently sat down with Landers to get some new tips on how entertainment marketers can target women intelligently and effectively.

Q: What’s a common misperception about marketing to women?

A: That women are a niche market. Women today control 85% of all consumer household spending, with their collective buying power exceeding the economy of Japan. Though women drive most of the spending in our country today—many companies and brands continue to view women as a single target group. They couldn’t be more wrong. Women are more accurately defined by their occupations, interests and life stages than by their actual age.

Q: Can you elaborate?

A: Historically, women led more predictable lives. They went to school, got a job until they got married and had kids. Maybe they went back to work after the kids were grown but then they retired with their husbands. It was pretty easy to market to them based on their ages, meaning their 20s, 30s, 40s and so on. But that wouldn’t work now. Take, for example, motherhood. Women today are having babies at ages ranging from 18 to 45, as opposed to past generations when the majority of women started families in their 20s. So if you were to launch a new diaper line this year, it would be better to market to all women with infants as opposed to all women in their 20s. 

Q: Do you have any examples of how this plays out in the entertainment world?

A: Two examples that come to mind are the “Twilight” movies and HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Both appeal to women of all ages who share a common interest. “Twilight” might once have been pigeon-holed as a teen phenomenon, but, in fact, everyone from adolescent girls to mature women fell in love with the romantic storyline. And “Game of Thrones” is for women of any age who like fantasy drama.

The reality is that women represent 55% of all movie ticket sales, and have tremendous influence over the viewing habits of their families. In addition, their ability to spread the buzz about a film through their online word-of-mouth networks can help make or break a film.

Q: What I like about those two examples is that neither of them would lend themselves to frilly, pink marketing campaigns. Are brands finally realizing that not every campaign needs to take the traditional feminine approach?

A: I think we’re making progress in that area. One of my favorite rebrands is Lifetime Television, which changed its tagline from “Lifetime. Television for Women” to “lifetime. your life. your time.” The old tagline was so obvious and in your face—and it’s not like we didn’t know they were trying to appeal to women, given the cheesy chick flicks they were airing! The new tagline is in line with their smart and contemporary programming, like “Army Wives” and “Project Runway.”

Q: What’s the number one tip you can give to entertainment marketers trying to reach women?

A: Be sure to really define your target woman as a full person. Get to know everything about her from her age, occupations, educational background, and occupations to her likes and dislikes, buying habits and personality traits. Then hire consultants or focus groups in those target groups to act as sounding boards for your campaigns before you launch them. You might be surprised by their reactions to them.

And think about this: A woman's heart is in her brain—tell her a story that is filled with emotion, and explain why your brand is relevant to her. That should be something that comes naturally to people in entertainment!

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