First and foremost, I have to thank Ms. Skoloda ( @toobusytoshop) for being so kind to let me interview her for this project. Knowing that I’m doing this research for my MBA and that my blog isn’t exactly getting 1,000 hits an hour, she was a fantastic sport, even in dealing with my less-than-adequate interviewing skills. I also want to thank Brittney Osikowicz ( @bosikowicz) for the referral (her second appearance on this blog!).
For a quick background on her, I will quote her own site instead of attempting to write her bio myself:
Kelley Murray Skoloda is an author, an MBA and a public relations executive. A partner/director of Ketchum’s Global Brand Marketing Practice, Skoloda is a recognized authority on marketing to women and is the architect of the widely-publicized Women 25to54, a communications offering that offers a better way to reach “multi-minding” female consumers. (More here)
In other words — Marketing Rock Star. Also, a Katz MBA alumna, which makes me feel all the better about choosing Pitt for B-school.
Kelley shed some light on a few topics that have been challenging for me to decode in my reading without some real Q&A (I’ve finished three books with four more on the way). In no particular order:
“It comes down down to how men and women are hard-wired.”
She discussed some specific research that concluded that, at a very biological level, women are hard-wired for interconnectedness and men are hard-wired to make more straightforward decisions. I’d tend to agree, though I know that there is some controversy when statements like this are made. However, marketing is about taking as much available data you have about the target and making do with what you have. Assumptions must be made and I’m willing to roll with that one going forward.
“We have a lot of work to do.”
In the conversation, she mentioned that there are a lot of male brand managers that work on women’s lines. I wondered aloud if this had any effect on the data I mentioned in the previous post (a majority of women feeling “vastly underserved”). Her response was that we a lot of work to do in understanding what women want and need (Note: I’m making the connection between the presence of male brand managers and the perspective of female consumers, not her). However, she also pointed out that companies are making progress simply because they recognize the sheer numbers involved. She mentioned that Kodak hired a “Chief Listener” (her name is Beth LePierre and here’s her summary of her first days on the job), who is focused on ways to make it easier for moms/women to share photos.
It’s more elementary than you might think.
I half-complained (is there such a thing as a half-complaint?) that a lot of my reading has suggested things like, “respect a woman’s intelligence”, “make her laugh”, and “she likes to talk so give her something to talk about”. I said that it seemed a bit rote and awfully elementary — isn’t that all sort of obvious? Yes, she said, but it’s an elementary thing that folks aren’t getting. Take note, guys — some of it really is that obvious. Don’t miss the obvious.
What about that 85% number *everyone* is throwing around?
If you read anything in this space, you’ll find the data point that 85% of purchases are made or influenced by women (I’ve used this myself). How long will this last? While there isn’t any hard data, anecdotal information seems to suggest that men might be more comfortable moving into domestic roles. She mentioned a site P&G launched in June 2010 that is focused on men called manofthehouse.com, described as “a household tips website for the growing number of American men who have become homemakers in a tough job market”. Does P&G have some harder data on this or are they just building a firewall for a potential shift in the market? Regardless, that 85% number might fall as times change.
This is some great insight from someone who’s been in the trenches of consumer marketing to women. I was incredibly fortunate to get her perspective and she gave me plenty to think about as I continue on this path. I strongly suggest checking out her book Too Busy to Shop. Please check out her web site and her blog. Finally, you can order the book from Amazon.com here.
What do you all think about her (and my) conclusions?