Marketing to the Modern Woman

The communications industry has come a long way when it comes to marketing to women. Historically, advertisements and branding campaigns were based on marginalizing and alienating women, like the below 1978 ad from Downy.

While there is still progress to be made, professionals have finally begun to discover the correct ways to target female shoppers, as this target demographic has grown increasingly more vital with females making 85 percent of the consumer purchases in the U.S.

To better understand how to create a successful campaign for women without generalizing, we compiled a list of things to remember.

She’s a Savvy Shopper

Because men and women behave and think differently, their buying processes are also different. Since women are considered to be more sophisticated shoppers than men, they take longer to make a buying decision. Women tend to be more thorough as well, willing to invest the time and energy to research and compare products. For this reason, the age-old tactic “shrink it and pink it” completely misses the mark. 

Although they launched as a men’s brand, Dollar Shave Club has successfully included women both in representation within their ads and in their messaging. Rather than release a female line of razors, the company has made clear that their product is unisex— meant for both manly men, girly girls and everyone in between. Many of their marketing materials, emphasize the struggle of choosing between a product that says it’s for you, and a quality product that you know works, no matter the color.  

Don’t Put Her in a Box

Microsoft shattered the glass ceiling back in 2017 when they launched their “Make What’s Next” campaign to encourage girls to study STEM. The campaign features young women discussing the issues they aim to fix through their research, like breast cancer and the global water supply. Through this campaign, Microsoft illuminated the need for more individuals— particularly women— in STEM and shined a light on the personalities of those highlighted. 

In the past, the gender roles in advertisements have been very black and white — showing men as smart, strong and capable, while women were portrayed as homemakers, supporting men and the family. This campaign completely challenges those stereotypes by showcasing intelligent women who are capable of achieving their dreams to change the world. 

Lead with Emotion 

Emotional messaging is known to resonate with women, whether it is backing a worthy cause or placing sentimental value on an object. 

In 2014, feminine care giant Always made waves when they kicked off the”Like A Girl” campaign, which emphasized society’s impact on a girl’s self-confidence. While the younger kids took instructions to “run like a girl” as running as fast as they could, teenagers interpreted the phrase as meaning weak. The groundbreaking campaign used a combination of empowering messages and relatable portrayals to target their audience. 

Fama Francisco, Vice President of Global Always told The Huffington Post, “when you have a message that really addresses such an important and a real issue, and it’s done in a way that is very consistent with who we are as a brand, I think consumers want to engage with that.”