The Political Minefield of Marketing to Women


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If this year’s Super Bowl commercials were any indication, you better have a deep understanding of the lens through which your female customers view your advertising.

When was the last time you saw so many #buy and #boycott hashtag campaigns spurned by a single commercial? Social media exploded with customers saying they were going to stop buying, continue buying, or start buying products based on that brand’s Super Bowl commercial. Women are the majority of purchasers and social media users, so their reviews were noteworthy.

The new landscape of marketing to women goes well beyond The Big Game. All you have to do is take a look at trending news stories:

Nordstrom announced they 1will stop carrying the Ivanka Trump line due to declining sales.

JK Rowling fans were threatening to burn their Harry Potter books due to the author’s anti-Trump tweets.

#DeleteUber took off as Uber and Lyft staged a public political fight with both sides trying to use public opinion to gain market share.

Starbucks’s statement that they plan to hire 10,000 refugees resulted in both #BuyStarbucks and #BoycottStarbucks campaigns.

Welcome to marketing in the Trump era

In a political climate where passions on both sides are running high, marketers are navigating a landscape where any wrong move could result in a #boycott.

While some brands are jumping into the fray, most are trying to stay out of the limelight. But that’s not always easy. Just ask Nordstrom.

Nordstrom made this statement on Twitter about the Ivanka Trump line in December:

“We hope that offering a vendor’s products isn’t misunderstood as us taking a political position; we’re not. We recognize our customers can make choices about what they purchase based on personal views and we’ll continue to give them options.”

They decided to discontinue carrying the line in February citing, “the brand’s performance.”

You can say you are not taking a political position, but that won’t stop your customers from making assumptions based on your marketing. That marketing is going to be viewed through two very different lenses depending on which side of the political spectrum your female customers fall. The opportunity to get it wrong with either of these groups is an increased risk.

Why marketing to women is going to be especially tricky

For brands and companies who are marketing to women, it is an especially tricky time. Women have a long-standing tradition of buying or “joining” brands who share their values. They are going to be looking at everything your company says and does through a values lens influenced by their political views.

Look at Audi’s commercial titled, “Daughter” that took on the gender pay gap. Reactions to the ad were extremely diverse.

“My wife just told me we are buying an Audi”

“I love this ad. How could anyone not want their daughter, mother or wife to be treated equally? Thanks Audi.”

“Why would you ever insult your own wife and mother by telling your daughter that they were worth less than their male counterparts? Also, why would you ever tell her that a person’s value is based solely on how much money they earned?”

“There is no gender pay gap. Liberal propaganda.”

Still others pointed out Audi’s board of directors includes no women.

Audi is just one example. How are women going to respond to your marketing? It’s not something you can leave to chance.

Why the right kind of research is more important than ever.

A deeper customer understanding is going to be required through customer research, market testing and concept validation. Innovative research and analysis can be the difference between guessing what might work and knowing how she will react. (call out)

Brand X is recognized as one of the foremost authorities on female consumer research. We’ve performed well over 3,000 research studies with women all over the globe. We bring that intellectual capital to all of our research, advisory, education and consulting work for our clients.

Right now the stakes are too high to get it wrong with women.

Brand X has our finger on the pulse of the female consumer….not just the customer of today, but also the customer of the future. Our next generation research services go beyond traditional focus groups. X Labs, Persona X, facial coding, netnography, and virtual reality testing are just a few of the tools we use to screen for emotional triggers, analyze trends, provide better data and form critical insights.

If you’d like to find out more about how your company and brand can navigate this new politically charged landscape by better understanding your female customers, give us a call.

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