It's Pronounced Chookshaw

The semi-professional blog of Albert Ciuksza Jr.

Marketing to Women #4 – What’s Great About Being a Woman?

You're really hot, but I still wouldn't want to be you

You're really hot, but I still wouldn't want to be you

I love being a guy. Not that I had a choice in the matter, but I enjoy it thoroughly. From simplified underwear choices to not ever having to think about my cuticles , I just love how streamlined and simple it is. Borrowing from a great riff by the comedian Louis CK, if I had to renew my sex every year, I’d check the “man” box every time.

A lot of women might say they’d love to be a guy, but deep down, they know better. They’d check the woman box every time, too. Both sides might want to spend a day switching chromosomes (yes, men would ogle at themselves in front of a mirror for 24 hours), but I think we’d all choose to be firmly planted in our existing homes on Mars or Venus.

I point this out because, for the men out there trying to develop marketing strategies for women, we can’t possibly imagine that it’s great to be a woman. We see periods and heels and the societal pressure to please everyone and the manual dexterity it takes to put on a bra and what brides make their supposed “best friends” wear to their weddings and we just crumble. Men see a bunch of stuff that is painful and frustrating. Women see a spectrum from it’s-fact-of-life to it’s-a-great-thing-about-being-a-woman. It’s a fundamental disconnect.

I have to think this is why women are so frustrated with marketing. According to the MayoSeitz study I’ve mentioned before, a comprehensive survey found that the majority of women feel vastly underserved. Let that sink in. Here, I’ll help…

“…the majority of women feel vastly underserved.”

Women buy more cars than men. Single women buy more homes than single men. Women decide $4.3 trillion of spending each year. And that majority doesn’t even include the women who think they’re just-a-little-bit underserved. That majority believes it is vastly underserved.

Women — we need an education. What really makes you love being a woman? Why would you check the woman box every year? How much has it changed from when you were younger? Is it about sex, clothes, attitude, society, the ability to have children? Are they stereotypical things or are there benefits us guys would never understand? I’d love to hear (read: desperate for feedback to help me better understand this) your thoughts on the matter. Comments anyone?

5 Comments

  1. Rachel Vincent

    June 21, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    I love being a woman because it is the best of both worlds. I can do all the stuff that is great about being a girl (dolling up, mani/pedi, etc), but still have free access to a lot of the fun guy stuff (comics, action movies, video games, sports, etc). I can work or stay home and have kids. I can wear lace, silk, denim, flannel, or whatever else I decide on – girly, grungy, retro, anything. It really is the best of both worlds. As to the idea of being underserved, I was just talking with one of my best friends about that the other night. The most popular, and where the most money is dedicated (although whether popularity brings the money or the money creates the popularity, who knows) movies, games, sports, and pretty much most forms of entertainment are oriented towards guys. That is the one thing that is very frustrating about being a woman. If something within entertainment is oriented towards women you can anticipate it will probably be a lame plotline, poor acting, and just generally of a lower caliber than the entertainment forms created for guys.

    • I love the “getting dolled up” response that I’ve gotten from several women. There is this interesting expression of femininity that seems to be at such a core of what many women are (even if they tend to be, as you put it, into the “fun guy stuff”). This expression obviously has an impact on what you choose to buy and what brands appeal to your sensibility. There’s also a question that I’m exploring deeply by asking women the question, “What is it about sexy?” I feel like this concept of sexy is tied to the “dolled up” thing. Women can often tell me that sexy important to them and sometimes give me a peripheral reason why it’s important, but few can get to the heart of it why it occupies a great deal of mental energy.

      I’ve been in tune to how women are perceived in advertising for years — my mom would often point out the sexist tones in commercials (I think she knew then that I was going to be a marketing freak). One area where it hit me was beer and alcohol — I know plenty of women who love beer, love rum & Cokes, love vodka and yet it seems that nearly all of those are targeted at men (I’m sure this isn’t true in media targeted specifically to women, but it is true of mass media). Your mention of entertainment is interesting, too — I know plenty of women who’ve loved The Hangover and Superbad but they weren’t remotely marketed to women.

      You make an excellent overall point. I’d guess that most male marketers get so caught up in this very serious, soft, pink version of femininity (hey, look, another woman in a Yoga pose wearing pastels with her bottle of electrolyte-infused water next to her!) that they forget that women have a ton of depth. Women can scream their lungs out at a hockey game, laugh at sophomoric fart jokes, go shot-for-shot (Tequila) with their guy friends and wear 5″ heels at the same time. And, I’ll say this — I don’t know that women marketers are that much better at the game. While I keep bringing it up, I think the U by Kotex strategy (http://abcjr.me/25) is one that works well and appeals many different parts of a woman’s personality, INCLUDING humor. A women-focused marketing strategy that includes humor (and does not include taking shots at men) is incredibly rare.

  2. I grew up in an all-female family.  We pretty well did what all the guys would have had to do, were there any guys.  I have put together numerous pieces of furniture (and NOT the IKEA stuff), I can take apart and put together a surround sound system no problem, and I’ll easily help out with power-tooling around. 
    I love that as a woman, i can embrace all of these parts of myself, and be perfectly comfortable with it all.
    It’s not one of the things you pointed out.  It’s all of them, and the degree with which we can execute them confidently.
    And yes, women are underserved.  In all my years, I think I’ve seen one woman (maybe 2) in a Ford F350 commercial.  And I’m sure there’s more than one woman who has one. 
    I hope it’ll eventually get to the point where underserved populations, not just women – will appear in a more holistic way in advertising.  In the meanwhile I’ll continue to be awesome!
    Great post!

    • Hello fellow “Gen Y Gives Thanks”er and thanks for the comment!

      It hit me the other day that this question is critical to answering the question of why women buy. I thought about this in context of a project on which I’m working — a tailgating product that allows someone to pour cold draft beer anywhere. The target is, roughly, men making $75k+ a year, married, owns a home, two kids. You can be sure that, in that target, there will be an influencer in this buying decision (MSRP is $699). What’s great about being a woman in this case? She’s a tailgater too who loves going to the game (they have season tickets), loves sports, loves beer, loves being with friends and as seen by both her husband and his friends as “the cool wife”. Does that describe every woman? Absolutely not! But men who love sports really appreciate women who love sports and all the stuff that goes along with it (and guys feel fierce jealousy of their friends who find these women). And, because the range of what is acceptable (or encouraged) behavior by a woman is wide, for our product, buying this product or “approving” its purchase further reinforces her “wife coolness”. I’ll elaborate further on a future post — I’m still digging for more info on the subject.

      Does this make sense? What do you think?

  3. Hmmm.  You make a good point.  And yes it makes sense.  Although, from a marketing/ advertising angle, I’m quite sure it could be rejigged to market to women – who are not the reinforcer for their partners.
    It makes me think of shampoo/ razor ads for men.  Often we see a clean-shaven – or freshly groomed fellow – who has a gorgeous woman running her hands through his hair or down his newly groomed, very obviously chiselled jaw.
    Nowadays, I see guys with their infant daughters in these very same ads (in a kind of “shave the stubble for your baby” way).  Same concept, different angle, just as effective.

    So I think that while your wife-coolness works, this could also be marketed to women, who also make close to that much money.  As you said, women’s behaviours vary vastly.  There are those who love a good tailgate party, but there are those who are sick of serving girly cocktails while watching the Bachelor.  If you can spend 1500 bucks on a pair of shoes, you can drop half that on a draft beer cooler thing.
    Does that make sense (or did I entirely miss the point)?

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