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Gender Buy Asses

Posted on October 18, 2011 @ 7:16 PM in Uncategorized

My life, as I knew it then, ended on April 4, 2005 with a sudden, sickening crash.

Within days, I left my husband of 17 years and my extended family of in-laws, nieces and nephews all of whom I dearly loved (and always will).

I left my house in the tidy suburbs of Toronto.

I left my (freelance) work and income.

I left my network of business associates, friends and social activities.

I left my doctor, dentist and mechanic.

But I couldn’t leave my hairdresser.

To this day, I still drive 100 miles each way to get my hair cut.

Crazy, right?

Bridget Brennan wrote a terrific, insightful book called Why She Buys. It’s a fascinating study with real-life examples to demonstrate the very real differences between men and women in terms of their buying behaviour.

It’s no surprise that women are the shoppers. But we also heavily influence the buying decisions that men typically make.

Ms. Brennan points out that, in the upper echelons of business, marketing and advertising, it’s still very much a man’s world. High-powered masculine ad execs (think Don Draper) are creating the campaigns and strategies meant to entice female shoppers and influencers.

And often failing miserably because they just don’t get us.

One example is that of the Snugli (a fabric carrier women wear around their neck to tote a baby on their chest). The manufacturer and its ad agency couldn’t figure out why sales were dropping.

The author, who was working at said agency at the time, pointed out that they should consider the Snugli as a fashion item.

Women wear these things. Out in public. Perhaps a choice of colours instead of the standard brown or grey might be nice?

Grudgingly at first, the company agreed to try making the item in more fashionable colours.

Sales skyrocketed.

Does anyone understand brand loyalty better than Procter & Gamble? According to Brennan, P&G took a novel approach to market research before launching one of its most successful products ever: Swiffer.

Instead of convening the usual focus groups, P&G sent people to LIVE in real-life homes where the products would be used.

They observed how people clean. What they hate about it. Which jobs were particularly icky and why. And THEN they designed the Swiffer line of products to respond to those challenges.


Speaking of loyalty, let’s get back to my hairdresser.

I know I’m not a typical female in that I really hate being fussed over. I’d rather have root canal than a mani, pedi or haircut. I can’t imagine a present I’d hate more than a day of self-indulgence at some spa.


So when I found a salon where I felt comfortable and valued, I never wanted to go anywhere else. (Notice that I didn’t mention my stylist’s expertise? Yes, he makes my hair look good. But his humour, charm and genuine appreciation for my patronage make me FEEL wonderful).

Brennan’s research confirms that women are loyal. Treat us right and we’re yours forever. Treat us poorly, however, and Hell indeed hath no fury…

Add in the fact that women are far more active than men on social media and consider it a moral obligation to spread the word, whether good or bad, and companies can be brought low at lightspeed.

Well, this has been fun. Gotta go fill up the gas tank. I’m getting my hair cut this week.

Do you have any examples of good or bad gender marketing?

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