The first step of marketing to women is being there when she wants to buy. Before a consumer will start paying attention to any marketing communication, she has to consider herself in the market, whether it’s for a new car, new smartphone, more life insurance or any other product or service.
In my consumer behavior model, I identify a woman’s first awareness that there is a need to be met as the Activation stage.
Influencing women during the Activation phase is key for your product’s success. Women absolutely drive this this stage of the purchase process, and you must get their attention. Even when the final decision will be made jointly by a couple, women are the first to recognize a need and start investigating that need.
How Women Start the Purchase Decision Process When women start up a search for a product or service, instead of arming themselves as men do with plenty of impersonal knowledge, they ask a lot of people for input. Women look for opinions and insights from sales staff as well as from people they know.
But don’t think that women don’t want information. Women want more information and more options. The search for the Perfect Answer is the main reason a woman’s purchase path is shown as a spiral – she seeks and uses new information to cycle back and re-evaluate. It might take a little more effort to research, but it’s worth it to reach the Perfect Answer.
Marketing to women at the right place and right time Knowing what is important to women during the Activation stage, there are three ways to make sure you are marketing to women in just the right place at just the right time:
1. Hook her with news.
2. Turn on the power of suggestion.
3. Intercept her on her way.
HOOK HER WITH NEWS
One way to reel her into the Activation phase is to offer her something extra or new- a new usage no one has thought too much about before or a new product never before seen in the category.
An example from the past, many women who had been managing just fine without a cell phone in the mid-1990s suddenly put themselves in the market when Sprint suggested new usages to them. Sprint pointed out that cell phones were for more than just business – soccer moms could use them to manage their families’ activities on weekends, or single women could feel safer if they carried one for emergencies.
With technology, women often find their own way into the category a few years after it has become well established with early adopters. But the smart companies will find a way to suggest the need and opportunity to women earlier.
TURN ON THE POWER OF SUGGESTION
A more sophisticated version of the “Would you like fries with that?” approach, this principle takes note of the fact that many of us don’t really even know we need or want something until someone prompts us to consider it.
Consumer education marketing tactics tap into women’s greater lust for information. Women expect and value lessons and advice. Often, it’s simply a question of providing information the consumer may not have had before or creating awareness of a real need she’d just never thought about.
For instance, many women assume that if a woman’s income is lower than her husband’s, she doesn’t need as much life insurance. When someone points out that if she were to die, he and the kids would not only lose her income but would have to hire someone to do all the cooking, cleaning and child care as well, she realizes she may not have thought this through.
INTERCEPT HER ON HER WAY
Another way to tap into the power of suggestion is to place the product in her path- and let nature take its course. Sometimes, “what you see is what you want.” You weren’t really planning to upgrade your laptop until next year, but then you saw the new MacBook Air, and… well, you really did sort of need a new laptop, and why wait until next year?
For this strategy to work, you have to go where women are, whether it be where they are “out and about” like at the mall, at events women are attending or creating your own event centered on women’s interests, with your product tantalizingly close by. Just make sure your product, display or demonstration are worth a second look and arouse her curiosity.
Taking action on Activation Once you’ve activated the consumer’s buying process, make sure you provide a way for her to act on her impulse. The whole point of targeting the Activation phase is to be the only brand present when she experiences her first inclination to buy. You have to be prepared to capitalize on your advantage. Remember our consumer who kinda-sorta wants a new MacBook Air? A friendly Apple associate will soon appear, answer all her questions and ring up her purchase right where she stands, without even having to walk her to a cash register.