There’s no doubt that there’s a sea-change taking place in the economic and political world. Apart from the fact that the old ‘top-down, combative and competitive’ form of business is giving way to a more ‘sympathetic, more human, collective’ spirit, the market-place is also changing. These days, companies are finding that it is tougher to keep customers loyal.
It seems that the new buying paradigm is based on integrity, authenticity, and relationships. The integrity part means doing what is right, authenticity means delivering what is promised, and the relationship means knowing the person or people you are doing business with.
What can we draw from this?
What is interesting is that the new methodology to please customers is how women have been doing business for the last 50 years. Ironically, the Alpha Male has chastised them for it because they felt women spent too much time caring! Now the Alpha Males in marketing are battling to change and connect with the growing and extremely powerful female audience. They know of the tremendous yield they need to tap into, but seem to be struggling to find ways to target women.
There is a way to do it, even though it seems many big companies are uncomfortable with the changes required to make this breakthrough.
Firstly, companies need to start listening to women. They will be amazed by women’s creativity in a context designed to bring out their talents. Women understand female decision-making. They know that you need to listen to sensory, aesthetic and emotional responses that are appropriate to female behaviour. Secondly, there is extensive empirical evidence that gives unbiased explanations for how the male and female brains are differently wired. Here are a few examples:
|Male Behaviour||Female behaviour|
|Analytic, focused, linear||Whole-brained|
|Fight or flight||Tend and befriend|
|Innate interest in things||Innate interest in people|
|Survival through hierarchy/ self interest||Survival through relationships / people|
|Need to systemise||Need to empathise|
Scientific experiments on the recesses of the human brain can now explain certain female traits, such as why woman are more comfortable with emotions and can better process non-verbal be
haviour, while men take information systematically and try to analyse emotions in a logical manner to make a response. While this makes human relationships
interesting, it also explains why female customers are simply not responding to the marketing messages sent out by largely male-dominated corporates and media houses.
Harley-Davidson is one good example of success with women. This is a business that focussed almost entirely on men, who made up 98% of its client-base. When sales starting to plummet from 2007, the company decided to start listening to and targeting women. They looked at many safety features, held workshops, employed women in decision-making positions and re-packaged their product by introducing the SuperLow – a much lighter model. Today, women comprise 12% of its customer base – up 10% in a declining market, due to changes in marketing and attitude.
More and more it’s being said that companies are unlikely to succeed into the 21st century unless they start to address women both inside and outside their businesses. Women now control 70% of consumer-spend worldwide – they should receive no less than 70% of attention when it comes to making those consumer decisions that directly affect them. Gender balancing is thus an essential part of future corporate success. Companies need to start employing and engaging women with a totally different mind-set in order to respond effectively to this economic revolution currently underway.