Brand Positioning for Marketing to Women – Part 5

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Posted Jun 08, 2012
Susan Gunelius

A series of articles about brand positioning for marketing to women would not be complete without a section about research. If you missed previous parts of this series, follow the links at the end of the article to catch up. You can't conduct the right research and gather the right data to make the right business decisions if you don't understand the how and why of gender branding. One thing is certain when it comes to marketing to women, qualitative and quantitative research are imperative.

gender branding

What is important to women when they purchase a product or service with your brand name on it? Going back to the Hoover example used throughout this series, the company thought that explaining to women that Hoover products make cleaning easier and do a better job was the most important message. However, communicating the linear solution to a common problem wasn't all that mattered to female consumers. In fact, speaking directly to women in this manner in Hoover's ads was found to be a mistake.

Not only are women not the only consumers using Hoover products anymore, but they also feel like brands that picture women as the primary housekeeper are condescending. Such imagery was found to be the exact opposite of how the Hoover brand should be presented to consumers. Therefore, the focus and messaging in Hoover ads shifted from busy females who handled all the house cleaning to people who demanded cleanliness in general.

Researching the Female Consumer Audience

The lesson to learn is simple. You need to research the female audience before you market your brand to them. But your efforts shouldn't stop there. Women's expectations are demanding and can change quickly. You need to continually research the female audience to ensure your brand is still meeting their needs and growing with them.

Research should come in the form of social media monitoring and qualitative analysis of conversations and perceptions as well as quantitative research isn't going to give you the information you need. The trick is breaking through the solutions-based research focus to dive into emotions and true perceptions of your brand versus competitor brands in women's minds.

women shopping

In other words, simply asking women if they like your brand and if they plan to buy it in the future isn't enough. Remember, women are rarely satisfied with a single opinion or interaction. They seek deeper meaning and value in relationships, including their relationships with brands. Use analogies and role-playing to dive deeper and uncover why female consumers choose your brand and what you need to do to make sure they keep choosing it and tell their friends about it.

Sometimes the best way to gather the data you need is by working backwards. In other words, instead of asking women what they like about your brand and why they choose it, ask them what they don't like about other brands and why they don't choose those brands. It can be easier to get people to open up and provide details about things they don't like than it is to get them to reveal insights about what they do like.

Research questions that allow consumers to personify brands and attribute personalities to them can also help uncover underlying emotions that drive purchase decisions. Often consumers aren't even aware of these underlying emotional and psychological drivers, but you can root them out through probing research questions.

The goal of your market research should be to see your brand through the eyes of your target female audience. Of course, those women might not be the consumers who actually use your branded products and services, but they're the ones who make or influence the purchase decisions. Understanding their feelings, perceptions, and views should be a top priority for every brand.

Up next in the Brand Positioning for Marketing to Women series, you'll learn about some excellent examples of gender branding that you can benchmark as you develop your brand strategy. In the meantime, if you missed previous parts of the series, follow the links below to read them now:

Image: Richard Dunstan, Andy Hay

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