As the saying goes, men are from Mars, women are from Venus: For years, marketing executives have sought to refine their target markets through advertising angles. Beer commercials aimed at males show scantily clad women; whereas chocolate commercials aimed at women highlight indulgence and pleasure. Fundamental gender differences affect how we are attracted to products, and as women become more dominant in decision making, the number of commercials aimed towards females increases as well.
When it comes to emotion vs. function, we know that women make decisions based on emotion. Women are looking for an emotional, tactile experience when they invest in a brand. Men aren’t looking for words like “touch” or “smile” in ad copy, but women find this approach thoughtful. Think about Tiger Woods’ Nike commercial which aired on ESPN and the Golf Channel just one day before the Masters began in April 2010. In the stark, black-and-white ad, a solemn Woods looked directly into the camera without speaking while a recording of his late father played. “Did you learn anything?” Earl Woods says. Woods was returning to golf after a leave that followed revelations of infidelities and a stint in rehab. As you’ll notice, the two female reporters discuss at length how effective the commercial was – clearly, they are sold, and more likely than not they will urge their husbands to buy Nike products.
In terms of practicality vs. luxury, men and women respond to different must-haves and deal-breakers while shopping. In a 2010 study on home-buying, a higher percentage of women reported storage space and a large yard as a high priority, compared with men. Also, 60 percent of women (compared with 49 percent of men) said they wouldn’t consider a home with small bedrooms. Men looked for perks like a great view (44 percent, vs. 33 percent of women) and a luxurious bathroom (28 percent, vs. 23 percent of women). Ever wonder why almost all new-home ads show pictures of big yards and large living rooms?
Now let’s think about detail vs. simplicity. According to NeuroFocus, a company that specializes in determining differences in brain-stimulus responses of men and women, there are fundamental variations in the way males and females respond. It is proven that female brains have stronger connections between the right and left hemispheres, meaning that their language and memory is very much in touch with their emotions. In addition, women have a larger hippocampus region, which translates to better recall of detailed information. So, when marketing to women, it’s important to use loads of detail and emotional cues (vs. keeping things simple and to-the-point for men). Take a look at this ad on Cartier watches – even though it’s a mens watch, the detailed commercial is clearly directed at women:
Lastly, let’s look at brand vs. price. It‘s shown in studies that women care most about comparison shopping, bargain hunting and getting a lower price at stores. On the other hand, men are more willing to shop to find well-known brand names, regardless of the price. If you examine most department store commercials, even those that are aimed directly at men, prices are the main focus because that’s what catches a women’s attention:
Whether females dominate decision-making because they have more knowledge on the products, more interest in them, or more power overall – one thing is clear – tons of brands are hopping on the Market -To-Women bandwagon.