Sunday, 16 September 2012

Gender Marketing: How to Sell to Women Pink

Ladies, unleash your inner bimbo! Finally an elegant hand has arrived that is thin enough to fit your delicate hands: BIC Cristal For Her Ball Pen.
This much-ridiculed launch does, however, contain a valuable lesson for marketers and innovators who do not seem to have learnt from past mistakes. Heard of La Femme? Launched by Chrysler in 1950s it was designed especially for women. Alas, the glorious creation of pastel pink exterior, rosebud patterned upholstery, purple carpeting and set of matching accessories (yes really!) was a flop.
The reason neither of these launches work is because the brands are trying to appeal to a type of woman that only exists in the imagination of a chauvinist male. A doomed target market if there ever was one.

That said, I admire Sheilas' Wheels. This pink-and-hairspray-happy insurance broker that targets female drivers uses the outdated female stereotype ironically and doesn’t take itself seriously (not unlike Lynx.) But more importantly, their entire proposition is built on a solid functional RTB – female drivers are statistically less likely to have an accident and therefore require lower premiums. 
Women buy into Sheilas' Wheels because it delivers them a tangible monetary benefit, NOT because they identify with the Barbie-like Sheilas. Yet there is no real functional benefit to the patronising pink pen or car.

Brands can be very successful by delivering only emotional (rather than functional) benefits to women. But to do this they need to understand us first.

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