Catering to the long list of brand criteria: Why attracting more women the right way won’t alienate male consumers

Posted December 5, 2012 in by

For years, we’ve been consulting with clients and prospects on how to effectively market to women. The number one question we continue to hear: If we focus on women, will we alienate men? The answer to this question is: Not if you do it right.

Marketing to women isn’t about painting your product pink, using script fonts or adding “For Her” to the product name. Women don’t want special treatment or a modified version of your product. That approach will definitely alienate your male customers. It will likely alienate a lot of female customers, too, because many will see these superficial segmentation tactics as condescending, if not downright offensive.

So how do you market to women the right way?

Think about your brand in terms of the number of criteria the consumer has in mind. If you have a cross-gender brand and want to appeal to both sexes, then you need to recognize that men and women want the same things from a brand — women just want more.

What does that mean for you as a brand? It means making sure all your base criteria are covered. This will satisfy the men, who have a shorter mental checklist when evaluating the brand. Women look for all of those basics, too, but also expect to have smaller details buttoned up.



Think about a man’s list of requirements when choosing a hotel versus a woman’s list of must-haves. The typical male consumer may want a clean, well-kept room, a pool, a restaurant and a reasonable price, Once these criteria are met, the man is ready to make a buying decision.

The female customer requires all of these criteria be met as a baseline. But it’s also important to her that the hotel restaurant has an interesting menu, that the bathroom counters are granite and that the towels are made of ultra-fluffy Egyptian cotton. What time does the complimentary breakfast end, and do they have fresh fruit, or is it just muffins? The female consumer is more likely to pay attention to whether a hotel chain treats its help ethically and what charitable donations it makes.

Each of these details play into a woman’s purchasing decision. And each of these details makes the hotel stay even better for male consumers, who will walk away with an even better experience than they were expecting. This above-expectation brand performance is more likely to lead to loyalty among male consumers.

The Brand Safety Zone

When it comes to satisfying the longer list of criteria that women bring to their buying decisions, we recommend brands operate in the Brand Safety Zone. The Brand Safety Zone helps a brand identify the needs, wants and requirements of women to make a purchase – and in turn, crafts marketing and brand messages around that information. Although the Brand Safety Zone focuses on effective marketing to women tactics, it still operates with smart marketing strategies that will not alienate male consumers. In fact, when you operate in the Brand Safety Zone, you’ll not only meet the long list of expectations of your female consumers, but exceed the expectations of your male consumers as well.

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