Why She Buys is considered a milestone in marketing (and selling) for women, and for this reason, I decided to read it. According to Bridget Brennan, 80% of sales are influenced by women. Moreover, at the time this book was written, most of the marketing effort was made towards man. No relevant communication, no specific advertising, no tuned-in marketing. Stop: we all assume there is a ton of marketing addressed to women. However, one of the most exciting chapters of this book is dedicated precisely to Marketing to Women, and is titled “The Difference between Sex Appeal and Gender Appeal“. In short: if you thought that women lingerie advertising are typically done for women, think again. The sexual charge of it is generally addressed to man.
Gender is the most powerful determinant of how a person views the world and everything int it. it’s more powerful than age, race, or geography.Bridget Brennan, Why She Buys, page 11
If seen this way (although some might disagree), we understand the fact that the entire process of designing, producing, selling (but also maintaining and servicing) a product needs to be done by explicitly thinking about female customer needs. One of the main conclusions that Bridget Brennan drives is that Pink is not a strategy. Simply creating a “pink” version of a male product will not produce results.
One of the most positive aspects of Why She Buys is the fact that Brennan tries to destroy several paradigms, insisting on social research that underlines why women are different compared to men. They define achievement differently. They react to emotional scenes and conflict differently. They interact with other members of their own sex differently. These three elements alone mean that most marketing campaigns (built on achievement, conflict and interaction in typical “male” terms), are done in the wrong language.
Possibilities are there to do a real change and a lot of the work we have seen after this book was written, definitely show the results). Notably, the author sees one pivotal aspect of why investing in specific marketing and communication fro women pays off. If addressed correctly, through authentic conversation, women will spread the news. Women: the original social network is one of the most captivating sentences of the book, and gives a sharp remark on the pay-off of a renewed form of attention for women.
Chapter 6 is focused on actually selling to women on the shop floor. The author claims that “women are evaluating the salesperson as much as the product”. A key driver in ensuring competence and skills by the salesperson. “When women shop, they constantly evaluate how their purchases might impact the people they care about most”. This includes family, kids, but also friends and relatives, depending on the current status, which means that the sale needs to include always multiple stakeholders. And also drives one of the most important consequences: a positive shopping experience will drive strong word-of-mouth. “Give her a reason to tell her friends or colleagues about you” becomes one of the strongest advice she gives, a key element in delivering Wow Shopping Experience.
All in all, Why She Buys is an impressive work that gives any marketer, or business owner, or manager, a strong reason to why addressing women specifically in marketing and sales is positive. What’s true is that the ten years that have passed since its publishing did not alter the need to cater for such a book, even if maybe the targets is now even wider than the pure gender difference. Beside some successful experiments (primarily through a lot of women-led start-ups and brand), there is still a baseline of companies that fail to acknowledge and understand the difference. Which often leads to the natural consequence of male-led companies being unable to interpret such a key business driver. Which demonstrates once more, that diversity is good for business, although, as we’ve seen, so much still needs to be done.