Even if the decision to buy appears to rest elsewhere, women frequently have a major influence on whether or not the sale is made. Its easy to consider the car industry as predominantly male-driven. The majority of salespersons, journalists and mechanics are male, and published statistics of new car sales are weighted toward men.
For example, in 2002, almost 850,000 new cars were sold in Australia, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries. It is estimated that sole female car purchases represent between 20 and 48 percent of this figure, but female influence on those same purchases is around 70-80 percent.
This takes us back to the basic marketing concept of remembering that the decision-maker is not always the person who pays the bill, a rule frequently forgotten by administrators of hotel loyalty cards who do not allow points to be collected by guests if the bill is being sent back to the company.
Another area often considered to be a male dominion is that of technology. Looking at DVD sales, for instance, we find that in 2002, only a third of women claimed to be their family’s primary DVD purchaser but by 2004 that figure had increased by more than half.
What is interesting here is not so much the size of the market, but the speed of its increase. Therefore, companies that have traditionally geared their marketing to men and continue to do so because the male market has always been their main source of custom may be guilty of backward thinking.
Another aspect flagged up by the speed of change is how challenging it can be for companies to stay ahead of the game when marketing to women. Factors that affect womens desires and purchasing power such as levels of education, income and independence are all increasing at a more rapid rate than those of men.
What women want thats different to what men want
The lives of the majority of women today are infinitely more complicated than the lives of their male counterparts. It is the woman in the relationship who will generally be looked to when it comes to the multi-faceted operation of the home. The woman is likely to be the one who keeps the environment clean and organized, ensures the family or partner is clothed and fed, shops, irons, recycles, handles the help, ferries the kids and keeps tabs on everyones social diaries. On top of this, shes very likely to be holding down one of more jobs or developing a business or career.
So the entire running of the household is likely to have the female as the lynch-pin. This often includes the handling of the household finances and yet the majority of financial products, along with cars and technology, are still considered male-gender specific.
How women make the decision to buy
Frequently, when seeking solutions to problems, women will have conducted research online and be extremely well-prepared prior to placing themselves in line for a sales pitch. Any company that does not acknowledge this and insists on wasting a womans increasingly valuable time is likely to trigger a negative response as she can feel patronized by a step-by-step, start from the beginning, approach that may be unnecessary.
With such complicated lives, women seek simplified solutions. When looking at your product, consider how your marketing can also be simplified to avoid adding to an already stressful life. Is it possible for your entire product and its benefits to be presented in such a way that it solves problems for over-stressed women? Does your marketing show how your product will support her busy lifestyle?
It is not even as simple as the traditional method of asking questions and identifying what she wants because she will make purchasing decisions based, not only on her own needs, but also on the needs of her family. The first consideration should always be an acknowledgement of the complications in her life.
So she needs to know that you understand the problems she faces. Can your sales force show that they identify with her?
Women are three times as likely to learn about a new product from another woman. It is likely that women purchasers assume that another woman can more easily understand her challenges than a man. If a woman is presenting your product and is able to show how your product or service makes sense in the world they both occupy, the purchase is a natural progression.
When the sale is made in this manner, your female purchaser feels valued and acknowledged and knows that she has been offered a solution, rather than having been pushed into a sale which she will inevitably cancel.
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