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How Women Influence The Products Men Use: Overview


Father Knows Best? Not in 2011.

When I was a little girl, one of my aunts had a potholder hanging over her stove, with a passage embroidered on it. “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” The sentiment was lost on my 5 year old self, but as marketers in 2011, we would be silly to ignore the power that “mama” wields as a consumer.

The 20th Century witnessed a huge climate change with regards to gender perceptions and roles. Women were once thought to be solely nurturers, incapable of understanding complex issues like household budgets and how to decide which vehicle to purchase. This perception was reinforced by popular culture, where the mothers on television shows like “Leave it to Beaver” and “Father Knows Best” were portrayed as submissive and naïve. However, as World War II drove women into the workplace, attitudes toward women slowly began to shift. As contributing members of households (albeit, at a reduced rate), women were no longer just incubators. The 60s and 70s saw women burning their bras and refusing to submit to the confines of a society ruled by “the man.”

Fast forward to 2011, and studies confirm that women are no longer expected to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Women are the major decision makers in nearly all households. Women account for about 74% of all decisions [in 43% of households, the woman makes more decisions; in 31% of households, couples make decisions jointly]. Decisions from the age-old “who holds the remote” to more traditionally male decisions (like what car to purchase) are dominated by the woman of the house.

This heavy shift toward a feminine decision making bias is obvious among many popular current marketing campaigns. Old Spice, a product line created solely for men, launched its wildly successful “Old Spice Man” commercials last year, targeted directly at women. When Cadillac sought to rebrand itself as “sexy”, they recruited Kat Walsh as their spokeswoman.

As women hold the decision making power, by and large, it is our responsibility to keep “mama” happy (I’m looking at YOU, Summer’s Eve!). Advertising targeted to women’s desires, interests, humor, and requirements will have a positive impact on the bottom line.



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