Our blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

May 17, 2009

When the Driveway Doesn’t Quite Reach the Road: Marketing to Women

As a business that is not only itself designed and marketed towards women, but that also works closely with more than 200 women-owned businesses we see a lot of gendered marketing and offerings. In most cases even if these small business’ offerings don’t suit your particular taste or need, they still have a ring of authenticity to them.

Here are just three examples that tasteful, authentic, and are clearly intended to have a feminine appeal.
Just Say Jodi
Inner Rewards
Down to Earth Finance

These stand in direct contrast to the recent launch of two “for women” offerings by both Mars and Dell.

Mars is testing the “Fling”
, their first new candy bar in 20 years. The candy bar is 85 calories and resembles a slimmed-down twix. Criticism has come over the fact that the packaging refers to the candy bar as “chocolate fingers” (apparently an industry term) and is stamped with the slogan “Pleasure Yourself”. Oh, and the candy bar actually sparkles. (More at NPR)

Dell recently launched a site focused on marketing their Netbooks towards the female consumer. The site is called “Della”
. Della has 4 main navigation choices: Products (their standard laptops pictured in pink and red accompanied by watered-down tech language); Featured Artist (the connection seems unclear but profiles Robyn Moreno and features a video of her vintage shopping); Tech Tips (5 simplified “benefits” of having a Netbook – track your exercise regime, plan a vacation); and Giving (how to donate your old laptop). And of course the site is puncuated by "Shop Now" or "Buy Here" links.

Much of the critique on these two initiatives centers the campaigns seeming forced and overdone. At the very best folks have been saying that these products missed the boat on what is important to women consumers and at the very worst folks have been citing these products as prime examples of sexism.
Many of these comments can be found right on the Della site,
or on the NPR site with regard to the Fling (interestingly aside from the overall calorie count, Mars didn't seem to pay attention to the health beenfits of the Fling as it has hydrogenated oils in it!).

Makes you wonder about the decision making process around these branding efforts, right? The idea to target women consumers is a good one, but obviously one that can be horrendously executed. I wonder in a market saturated with great examples of marketing done well, why these two campaigns have seemed to miss the mark so greatly. Certainly Luna Bar managed to market a food bar to women without insulting women in the process, and HP recently repositioned their netbook as an accessory by partnering with Vivienne Tam without mitigating women’s technological capacity and prowess.

You can see the “research elements” that each tried to capitalize on…sleeker, softer look for Della, the link between chocolate and passion for the Fling. Giving the benefit of the doubt, it seems that these companies just got a bit derailed in the “translation” process.

In my opinion part of the reason that these initiatives fall flat is that they seem to be a discordant patchwork of consumer insights with no real substance or mission or purpose backing it up. The result is a hollow candy shell of an idea that is empty inside. Unless of course, this is how these brands see us women, and then in that case it may not be a problem of execution but rather one of perception.

Posted by Adelaide

1 comment:

Jennifer Brown said...

We really enjoyed this post because our company is exploring a few things outside of our comfort zone and the way we come across to women has proven to be a big piece of where we are going.

Smaller businesses naturally need the authenticity factor... and its important to do things from the bottom up with your audience in mind! Great examples, too!