Guys, When Marketing to the Female, Don’t Dumb it Down for Women, Man Up For Men


Kathy Oneto, Vice President of Brand Strategy at Anthem Worldwide will be speaking at the M2W (Marketing to Women) Conference in Chicago in late April. You do not want to miss it. She will be presenting findings from a study recently conducted by Anthem about:

Marketing to the True Motivations of 3 Genrations of Women

Below is one of the thought provoking papers she has drafted from the findings, titled “Who’s ‘Manning’ the House: Bridging the Gender Divide,” that she was willing to share exclusivly with us. In it Kathy explores the possibility that to solve the problem of marketing to women, just might require “reframing” the problem.  That is, marketers must understand what actually motivates the female purchaser. The study revealed:

  • 86% of women believe that women should be able to pursue their own personal motivations and be able to make their own choices and not be judged by them.
  • 60% of women believe that marketers don’t accurately represent women of today.

In speaking with Kathy, she suggested, “To market to women could mean including men. Instead of dumbing products and messages down for women – man up for men. Make housework a man’s job”

I love her direction here.  Read on for more insight. You just might be surprised to find what does motivate women.

Who’s ‘Manning’ the House: Bridging the Gender Divide

by Kathy Oneto, Vice President, Brand Strategy at Anthem Worldwide

It’s often debated who does more in the household, the woman or the man, but it’s not often reported why that is the case. Plus, most marketers simply focus on women because they control the majority of household spending. That says something in and of itself, but I wanted to know more – what might be causing the gender divide at home and what does it mean for marketers?

Despite news over the years that men have taken a more significant role in the household, women still do the majority of the work.

In 2008, Lisa Belkin reported in The New York Times that couples rarely shared housework work, regardless if they both worked or not. She interviewed Sampson Lee Blair an associate professor of sociology at the University at Buffalo who studies the division of labor in families who found that the workload remained at two-to-one, women to men, regardless of income.

Finally, The Shriver Report in 2009 found that 55% of women and 28% of men strongly agreed that women take on more responsibilities for the home and family when both work.

And why is that? A key factor is socialization.

A February 2011 study by Oxford University studied women and men’s household roles across multiple countries, including the United States, and showed that men are unlikely to fully share the work until 2050, nearly 40 years from now. Why this view? Because household chores are still broken into “women and men’s work.” Cultural attitudes, social policies, and social teaching still emphasize women’s role in the household.

But, come on ladies, we have to admit that those aren’t the only reasons for this continued inequality. There are some of us who actually enjoy cleaning, cooking, and taking care of the kids and value our role in the household. We actually want to exhibit some traditional ideals of the mom we grew up with. Plus, how many of us sigh and simply do the job ourselves because others just can’t meet our high standards and do it the way we want?

That’s what we discovered in a survey we conducted. We found:

  • 74% of women (and 80% of Generation X women) are actually motivated to make sure the household runs smoothly
  • 40% of these women also said that they found it hard to give up their standards for housework
  • 57% of women with children said they found it hard to accept how others care for their children when it differs from how they’d do it.

Belkin, along with other experts in the field such as Gail Collins who wrote, “When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present,” have reported similar findings.

That is, that women find it hard to compromise their standards.

In Advertising Age’s report, “The Realities of the Working Woman,” they also reported that women want acknowledgement of traditional values and being a mother and homemaker. Paco Underhill in his famous, “Why We Buy,” describes a wonderfully hilarious scenario in which after multiple attempts of having her husband pick out a selection of meat, the wife simply gave up and made her own choice.

To be fair, men have taken on a more prominent role in households and today have deeper relationships with their children than past generations. At the same time, the facts show that women’s role in the household has not shifted quite as much, even though more of them have taken on roles outside the home over the last four decades. Women could potentially resolve this by lowering their standards or delegating more, but that’s easier said than done. While it’s possible, it’s more likely that women will continue the juggling act of balancing demands on her time, while meeting her own standards and fulfilling her own motivations.

So, what does this mean for women and marketers?

First, instead of continuing to debate the matter on who’s doing more at home, consider how to help women meet their standards and deliver on their motivations to help the household run smoothly.

At the same time, with women busier than ever, convenience is paramount; efficacy delivered conveniently is the winning formula. Even better, perhaps marketers could actually resolve this for both men and women, bridging the gender divide.

Marketers could find that efficacious, convenient solutions work with men, as well, helping them easily do the work and deliver the results his partner desires.

Swiffer®

Take Swiffer®. They seem to have the right winning combination – efficacious solutions that are fast, fun, and easy to use. Plus, they offer technology and “tool-like” components that can appeal to men’s “Tim the tool-man”-side and look nothing like what his mom might have used. Solutions that bring all that together just might make men more apt to help out around the house.

Oxo

Another example, this time in the kitchen, is Oxo kitchen “tools you hold on to.” They also bring this winning trifecta – products that work really well, are easy to use, and have a tool-like industrial design that is gender-neutral and fits into any kitchen.

Dyson

Finally, consider Dyson, the “never loses suction” vacuum cleaner, that brings innovative design and efficacy to a household job that can cause unnecessary conflict in the home.

Household solutions that give her what she wants and also helps him do his part might actually bring some harmony to the home.

Could be a lot for a brand to deliver, but if brands can claim to offer happiness, why not a bit of couple’s therapy through the help of household solutions that help them balance all the demands while also meeting her goal of having the household run smoothly?

For marketers, the answer may just reside in resolving this conflict for both parties.

Again, to hear more findings from this astute study, Oneto will be speaking at the M2W Conference in Chicago, April 24-25.

Kathy Oneto is Vice President of Brand Strategy at Anthem Worldwide where she leads client and brand engagements across a range of industries from consumer packaged goods to retail to technology. Kathy frequently writes on the topic of women, having recently published a white paper, “Today’s Women: Newfound Power, Persistent Expectations.” Kathy graduated from the University of Virginia with a BS in Commerce and has an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.
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3 Responses to “Guys, When Marketing to the Female, Don’t Dumb it Down for Women, Man Up For Men”

  1. I will explain this to my wife when she returns from NY on a 3 day business trip…once I finish my chores, get the baby down, and have time to ponder my counter offer in a big contract in Bio Fuel.

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