Monday, July 15, 2024

Time to wake up to the value of marketing to women

Fact: women now drive the world economy. They take most of the regular buying decisions for their families, but just as importantly they are discerning consumers in their own right. Harvard Business Review opines that consumer spending by women represents a growth market bigger than China and India combined.

Globally, ladies control about $20 trillion in annual consumer spending, and that figure could climb as high as $28 trillion in the next five years. Given those numbers, it would be foolish to ignore or underestimate the female consumer. And yet many companies do just that. What is the epitome of marketing to women in our region?

Sanitary protection
Full marks for practicality, and full marks to P&G and their competitors for addressing that need. But can you name any other marketing campaigns that address women as anything other than ‘the person who fills the weekly shopping basket’.

We are beginning to see bank accounts targeting women. But we also know that if one bank sees another launching an account for SMMEs, we soon have a flood of SMME Accounts in the market.
And I wonder how special a Women’s’ Account makes women feel? I mean, once you have signed up – using the nice leaflet with the picture of the handbag on the front or the nice heels is going to do what for you, really?

For this to work, a brand’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programme needs to be working hard: maintaining a regular dialogue with you; finding out more about you, and tailoring offers which might interest you. It’s all about relevance.

Now, small businesses are often naturally good at CRM. The vegetable seller, who slips in an extra couple of maize cobs to reward your loyalty. The salon owner who gives your daughter free braids, knowing that she has many years of beauty needs ahead of her. The trouble is, the bigger your business is, the harder it is to deliver personalized service … and mean it.
Go to to find some good examples of brands that develop strong relationships with female customers.

Recently Boston Consulting Group fielded a study of how women felt about their work and lives, and how they were being looked after by brands. It turned out there was lots of room for improvement. Learn more about the survey and take an abridged version of it at
Much of what they found would resonate with modern women in Southern Africa and Botswana in particular. In brief: women feel vastly under-served. They often have too many demands on their time and constantly juggle conflicting prioritiesÔÇöwork, home, and family. Few brands have addressed their need for timesaving solutions. For example, it should be easier for them to buy a healthy meal, get financial advice without feeling patronized, or make the time to stay in shape.
Although women control spending in most categories of consumer goods, too many brands still behave as if they had no say over purchasing decisions. Companies continue to offer them poorly conceived products and services and outdated marketing narratives that promote female stereotypes.
In a recent painful episode, Dell launched a laptop for women, and made it pink! (But they’re a smart enough brand to have learnt quickly from the howls of protest that it provoked).
Marketing to women is no different from marketing to any focused target group ÔÇô it’s about relevance. But you also have to mean it.


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