Saying that women are the engine for economic growth is not an exaggeration. On the world stage, women have taken the lead, working at the helm of some of the world's most powerful government positions and corporations. Even in the home, women wield considerable buying power, accounting for an estimated 80% of all purchase decisions.
At SheSpeaks, we have a network of over 250K women, which means we hear a lot of conversations from very passionate, socially connected women about everything from clothing to cars to vacations.
Those conversations have taught us a great deal about how women think—and what they wish brands understood about courting them.
Here are three successful themes that have emerged regarding what female consumers want from advertisers and brands.
1. Women want to know about product benefits, not features
That approach seems obvious, but in practice, many brands miss the boat here. Why?
Marketers tend to focus on product features, not benefits. Touting your product's cool features is fine, but all the little details that make it wonderful won't necessarily send it flying off the shelves.
For example, consider a consumer in the market for a dishwasher. Instead of a brand touting its "Reverse Quad Blade Wash Arm," the brand can say that the dishwasher will get dishes incredibly clean because it has spray jets that reverse direction to hit dishes from every angle.
If you want to see that approach in action, just pick a handful of products and look at the difference between how a company describes its product vs. how consumer reviewers describe the product. Consumers focus on product benefits—listing how the product helps them, saves them time, makes their lives easier, or creates an experience.
Smart companies should emulate that benefits-rich language for better, more successful marketing to women.
2. Women want to have a relationship with your brand
Studies have shown that women have a more social brain than men have. In practical terms, the implication is that if a woman feels let down in an interaction, she may not do business with you again.
On the other hand, if a competing brand makes her feel valued and appreciated, she will choose it, even if your product is a little better.
So, how can you be more relationship-driven?
Online, being relationship-driven may mean being more socially engaging, such as responding to comments or spotlighting a tweet from one of your customers. If someone talks positively about your brand and you don't highlight or feature it, then you've lost a big opportunity to unlock value.
Simply put, the attitude is: Make me feel like I am special to you and that you value my business.
3. Women need brands to apologize when they make a mistake
Lululemon found itself in hot water last year after it sold ultra-sheer workout pants. The brand ended up having a massive recall, and the company's CEO Chip Wilson said publicly that the pants just didn't work for all women's bodies while his wife and co-founder looked on.
Hopefully, we can now recognize that blaming the customer is one of the worst possible responses to a problem with a product. After all, if a product is being used ineffectively, it is probably because the consumer wasn't properly educated on to how to use it.
What's worse, the apparel market isn't really robust enough to cater exclusively to an uber-fit minority, so Lululemon's gaffe alienated a large percentage of consumers.
The good news is that we've found women are generally forgiving and understand that companies make mistakes and sometimes face circumstances beyond their control. That is another reason why relationship-building is essential. Accountability and transparency must go hand in hand.
In other words, a simple apology will go a long way with your female customers.
Ultimately, women are willing to support businesses that aren't perfect, so long as it's within the context of a relationship with mutual appreciation, trust, and respect.