August 14, 2014

Why Marketing to Women Doesn’t Work: A New Book By Drucker School Professor Jenny Darroch

Many organizations now recognize women as important consumers based on factors such as income, workforce participation and influence over purchase decision-making. In the US, for example, women make over 85 percent of consumer purchases and over 50 percent of purchases in traditional “male” categories such as automobiles, consumer electronics, and PCs.

Book cover
Why Marketing to Women Doesn’t Work, by Professor Jenny Darroch

Yet there is clear evidence that women are often dissatisfied with products and the way in which organizations communicate product benefits to them. It is little surprise then that 80 percent of new products fail and only 9 percent of women feel that brands are effectively marketed to them.

In her latest book, Why Marketing to Women Doesn’t Work, Jenny Darroch, professor in the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University, reminds readers of how to do market segmentation.

The book offers a large number of useful diagnostics to enable an organization to better understand its customer and product profiles before adopting a marketing to women strategy.

Darroch promotes needs based segmentation. Therefore, the diagnostic phase also includes advice on how to uncover customer needs and encourages managers to thoroughly examine whether needs do in fact differ according to gender.

If the organization does embark upon a marketing to women strategy, Darroch offers a number of cautions:

(1)    Avoid gender washing – don’t treat all women as if they are the same.

(2)    Acknowledge the multiple and blurring roles that women have, and the ambiguous and fluid boundaries between these roles.

(3)    Embrace gender convergence – i.e., the changing roles of men and women (e.g. women are more likely to be in paid employment, and men spend more time with children).

(4)    Avoid stereotypes – don’t fall into the trap of “shrink it and pink it” to signal that your organization’s products are female friendly. Pink might well be the appropriate choice of color but be mindful that pink also symbolizes being feminine, kind and nice.

Why Marketing to Women Doesn’t Work concludes with a number of tactical recommendations around the use of technology, relationship marketing, brand advocacy, and women as knowledge consumers to better reach women.

Darroch’s overarching conclusion is that by doing a better job of marketing to women, the organization will improve the way in which it markets to men. That is, marketing practice will, overall, improve.