Marketing to Women

Are you failing to communicate with 80% of the decision makers?

Attention male business owners, salespeople and marketers, in case you hadn’t noticed, women are DIFFERENT!


The brilliant bestselling book “ Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” by John Gray, explains that women and men are so different both physically and in their way thinking and perceiving the world, that they might as well be from different planets.

That book was published back in 1993 and is well worth revisiting if you are living with someone of the opposite sex, who is clearly on another planet.

Book Cover Men are from Mars Women are from Venus

What is interesting from a marketing perspective is that women and men are also very different in the way they see and react to advertising and promotional offers / communications and how they view brand relationships. Surprisingly it has taken all this time for this obvious difference to penetrate the male dominated business world and has only in the last few years been picked up as a new trend in Marketing called “EVE-olution”.

This name was given to the concept by trend watcher Faith Popcorn, author of the famous “Popcorn Report”, considered the bible for futurists and marketers alike and the inventor of other buzz words like “Cocooning”.

Faith and her collaborator on the project Lys Marigold say that businesses world-wide do not understand the power and inevitability of the EVE-olution trend. Maintaining the theme they say that women are as different from men
“SHOP-ologically” as well as “BIOlogically”! 

Personally I don’t think us marketers have ignored the female of the species in terms of specifically targeted advertising messages for “ladies” products. However I think we may have underestimated the extent to which women influence all purchase decisions in consumer, capital and business product areas. 

So before you dismiss EVE-olution as just another fad, consider the Purchasing Statistics.

  • Women buy or influence the purchase of 80% of ALL consumer goods.
  • 51% of consumer electronics
  • 75% of over the counter drugs
  • 80% of all healthcare decisions

As a male I make all the big decisions in our family, but in over 30 years have not had to make any. So, I think those estimates are conservative! 

80% of consumer goods is a lot of spending power! So what could we be doing wrong and how could we better communicate with and sell our products to this big market segment? 


Popcorn and Marigold have come up with what they call “The eight truths of EVE-olution”. I will try to flesh them out from a male perspective and invite female readers to correct me where I miss the plot a little.


Connecting your female customers to each other connects them to your brand.

Women in general are more relationship orientated and aware than men and support brands that they can identify with and which demonstrate the added relationship dimension. This means that in addition to the intrinsic benefits of the product as such, women are influenced by the more subtle rewards / benefits that could flow from the purchase of the product or service.

This is I think best reflected in advertising showing other women in the target group using the brand and getting “relationship benefits” and “emotional” content at the same time.

Perhaps the best example is the old advertisement for Meadow Lea margarine, with the “You ought to be congratulated” theme. These show the “mother” receiving recognition and family relationship rewards for buying and serving / cooking with that particular brand. 


If you are marketing to one of her lives, you’re missing all of  the others.

As a male I am fully aware that the ladies in my life seem to be able to do many things at once, while my fellow males and I can only tackle one thing at a time.

It’s the same with women’s lives. They are much more time pressured than men and are simultaneously daughters, wives, mothers, lovers, friends, housewives, managers and employees. What is remarkable is that they can be all these things at once, so it is worth remembering that when you offer a product to her as a mother, she is also a daughter, wife and lover.

EVE-olution suggests that building these other aspects of a woman’s life into the product benefit and message gives the brand a double hit.

Men by contrast tend to compartmentalise their lives, so attempts to combine Bill Jones Finance Manager, husband and father of three would be considered laughable. 


If she has to ask, it’s too late.

Women are simply too busy to go out of their way to find your product or to work out the benefits of buying it, no matter how good it is. You have to go to her or go to where she already goes. If she is already a customer make sure she knows about all your products and services and what they can do for her and the people she cares about.


Market to her “Peripheral Vision” and she will see you in a whole new light

It’s a fact that women have a much wider (peripheral) field of vision, around 20%, and more short range and immediate in focus. Men have a more tunnel vision and tend to focus on specific objects and tasks. Also men’s vision and thoughts are long range and future orientated.

The EVE-olution proposal suggests that subtlety is needed in the marketing approach. It is not just what the product does and how much it costs, but also what it stands for.

An example is The Body Shop, which not only provides desirable products, but also stands for and supports no animal testing and other environmentally friendly stances which customers can identify with. 


Walk, Run, Go to Her, secure her loyalty forever!

Women are gatherers rather than hunters, which means that your products have to be introduced to her where she gathers. She will not go hunting for them.

If she does all her gathering at the shopping centre, that’s where you introduce your product to her. Think in terms of free samples and extra special offers.


This generation of women will lead to the next!

Daughters, Mothers and Grandmothers are all opportunities to build continuity and referrals into your business. Give your customer a good reason for introducing her family to you and keep your business / brand in the family generation after generation.


Co-parenting is the best way to raise a brand.

The EVE-olution concept suggests that marketers should “Invite their female consumers into the delivery room to be a co-parent at the birth of the brand. And then encourage them to stay around and help raise the brand to a healthy maturity”.

For me this poses some problems in a practical sense, so I think what is being proposed is involving customers in the product development process, then using this process as part of the product introduction.


Everything Matters – You can’t hide behind your Logo.

This is the peripheral vision again. To appeal to the EVE-olution lady, your business, products and services should have a reputation for honesty, integrity, ethical behaviour, community give back and attention to detail.

Some Practical 'Marketing to Women' Thoughts

It is tempting to think that all of the EVE-olution stuff only applies to consumer goods and their marketing managers and advertising agencies, with those of us in industrial marketing not affected. But this is no longer the case.

There are entire industries and professions like Human Resources, Public Relations, Retailing, Health, Nursing Homes, Libraries and Teaching where almost all the employees and management are female.

If you want to sell products or services to these industries, you can give yourself an edge by taking on some of the rules for communicating with women without missing the men. 

1. Show Imagery that Women Identify with

Show pictures of people (other women) the target group can identify with, using your product / service and looking happy about it. Use these images everywhere, from advertising to leaflets to website. These images link with the words and message or offer to attract women’s attention where the printed offer alone will not.

2. Add a human touch 

A human touch to the offer and the benefit package you are selling with perhaps testimonials and pictures of customers and emotive words in addition to the straight forward features and benefits. How will they feel as a result of using your product or service or how should they feel.

For example having a cleaning company in to clean the house once a week, is easy to justify from a male perspective on economic grounds particularly if you are working and being paid more than a cleaner.

From the female perspective a more important benefit could be the quality relationship time she is now able to spend with husband and children. 

By stating this benefit clearly the implication that she needs a cleaner in because she is dirty or is poorly organised is avoided, by setting up the idea that she is caring for her family more by having cleaning done than by slaving away to do it herself, without being appreciated. 

3. Peripheral vision and association of ideas in women 

Gives organisations selling to women in business the opportunity to add extra layers to their business by being seen to support community and ethically based activities outside their core business, while gaining customers and sales. Eg. The Body Shop.

3. Provide Your Female customers with referral opportunities 

Give your current women customers the opportunity to recommend your product to others with some incentive for the recipients, that they would otherwise not get. Your customer then gains the opportunity to build her relationships with other prospective customers.

As a mere male I have to admit that I have limited insight into the world of our Venus dwelling better halves. But I do know as a Marketing Professional that the EVE-olution is a mighty important and growing trend we must not ignore. For myself I am going to make sure I involve more women in the marketing process.


EVE-olution is fine as long as you evolve in time to avoid being one of the species that become extinct.

Get to it fellas!

Ian Godbold

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