During the past decade, we’ve seen historically “masculine” brands and businesses — from motorcycles to hardware to beer to trucks, to name just a handful — seek growth by marketing their products and services to women. The list is long and getting longer: Harley-Davidson. Home Depot. Under Armour. Trunk Club. The Boy Scouts. And that’s just for starters. Success in reaching this powerful demographic often lives or dies in the marketing execution, and getting it wrong is serious business. Mistakes and gaffes can go public — or viral — all too easily, alienating the very people a campaign was designed to attract.

Whether you’re embarking on a women-focused campaign for the first time, or taking your existing efforts to the next level, leverage these four best practices for maximum relevance:

1. Conduct your own research before launching a campaign. 

It’s surprising how many people skip this crucial step. Don’t be tempted. Research can help you uncover billion-dollar insights (Procter & Gamble’s Swiffer® was borne out of ethnographic research, for example), and it enables you to test messages to make sure they’re effective (at best) and not taken in a way you never intended (at worst). Stereotypes and unintentional euphemisms can die merciful deaths in focus groups. There are now more ways than ever to conduct research quickly and affordably. Find the way that works for you.

2. Resist the three P’s: Pink, Patronizing and Passive.

Women tend to be wary of marketing approaches that depict them as “other.” Unless you’re raising money for breast cancer causes, think twice therefore relying solely on the color pink to market gender-neutral products. Resist using cliché images like stilettos and purses to symbolize women (unless you’re actually selling those products) and proceed with caution when using the word “ladies” in your messaging, especially if you are a historically “masculine” brand that’s new to marketing to women. Depending on your tone, it may be viewed as outdated or even patronizing by your target customers. (Test in research if in doubt.) From an image and photo/video standpoint, strive to depict women actively rather than passively, and with diversity.

3. Include women on your marketing teams, both internally and with agency partners. 

Common sense? Yes. Common practice? Not necessarily. Gender is often a blind spot within marketing teams, even when the work is being created for a female audience. Research shows that gender-balanced teams lead to greater results. Diversity is simply smart business.

4. Audit your retail and distribution channels.

Are women active shoppers at your existing distribution channels? If not, you may need to expand into new ones for your marketing campaigns to be successful.

There is no doubt: women’s consumer domination is here for the long term. Wherever you are in the journey, it’s never too late to take part in one of the world’s fastest-growing consumer markets.

Article originally published on www.Forbes.com

Save the date for the next Paris Retail Week show from 10 to 12 September 2018

For its 4th edition, the biggest European trade event will take its full scope and will gather in Pavilion 1 of Paris expo Porte de Versaillethe e-commerce sector, dedicated to solutions for e-retailers, ranging from digital marketing to logistics, and the Store / Equipmag sector, dedicated to physical commerce and distribution.

Pour sa quatrième édition le plus grand événement retail européen de la rentrée prendra toute son envergure et réunira dans le Pavillion 1 de la Porte de Versailles le secteur E-Commerce, dédié aux solutions e-commerce, du digital marketing à la logistique et du secteur Store / Equipmag, dédié au commerce physique et à la distribution.


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Women drive between 70 - 80% of all consumer household spending, and Bridget Brennan researches and analyzes why they buy the things they do. As CEO of consulting firm Female Factor, Bridget is one of the world’s leading authorities on marketing and selling to women. She is the author of the book, “Why She Buys: The New Strategy for Reaching the World’s Most Powerful Consumers,” (Crown Business), which was called “essential reading” by the Wall Street Journal. In 2016, Bridget was named a “Woman to Watch in Retail Disruption” by think tank Remodista. Bridget is a frequent contributor for Forbes.com, speaks globally on the subject of women’s consumer spending and is a guest lecturer at business schools. She is based in Chicago. Write her at bridget@thefemalefactor.com, or visit www.thefemalefactor.com.