Women - The Myths: The Realities
By Gerry Myers

Separating truth from fiction can be difficult at times. While the myths surrounding marketing and selling to women are numerous, they are also easy to dispel.

My favorite is the Pink Myth. This myth hinges on the fact that manufacturers and retailers have selected pink as their marketing strategy when targeting women. Pink, while a lovely color, is just that–a color. It is not a marketing vehicle. In fact, it is often a roadblock to success. For example, the 1950s pink Dodge Le Femme lasted a mere two years and sold less than 1,000 units. Likewise, the Cadillac Baroness and the Pontiac Parisian were low sellers.

Automotive manufacturers weren't the only marketers who tried to capture the female market by "coloring it pink." As more women traveled for business, hotel rooms turned pastel. In the late 1950s, Royal made a pink typewriter. Tires, running shoes, tool sets and gun grips have all tried pink.

Today's female consumer is savvy. She is interested in far more than color. She wants to be respected and appreciated as a customer, not stereotyped and patronized. This includes the use of pink invitations and names like Powder Puff Car Care Clinic.

Myth: You will lose male customers if you target women.

Reality: Manufacturers, brand managers and dealerships have wasted a lot of energy worrying about losing their male customers if they are successful with female ones. There are a number of things that need to be considered here:

  1. Women buy half of all vehicles purchased for personal use and influence more than 80%. Men love automotive products and are not going to stop buying them.

  2. Hotels that painted rooms pastel shades and put in frilly curtains to capture the women's market lost both genders as clients. Those that addressed safety and convenience concerns by putting more lights in the corridors and parking lots, changing to entry cards from keys and adding better amenities in the rooms, attracted more men and women.

  3. Companies that have listened to what women have said they want have increased their sales to women without a loss of male customers. For example, in the early 1980s when Jockey International decided to make a line of women's wear, their bottomline almost doubled as a result of creating products for 100% of the adult population, rather than less than 50%.

Myth: Little things aren't as important to women as big things.

Reality: Little things are big things to women. How a woman is treated can be as critical to the sale as the product or price. In fact, most of the time, it is more important. Women are value-added consumers. They will pay more for something if they perceive value in it. Conversely, they will terminate the sales process if they feel they are being patronized, ignored or told to bring their husbands in to discuss the finances.

Myth: There is no difference between men and women, so salespeople need no special training or information.

Reality: To understand a woman's motivation to buy, salespeople need to understand a woman's thought process and the life experiences she brings with her. By trying to feel as she feels and think as she thinks, you will be in a better position to complete the sale.

You might start by:

  • Reading magazines she reads
  • Watching women or trying to get into a car in high heels or a SUV in a tight skirt
  • Thinking of the dangers she faces while traveling
  • Asking your wife, sister, daughter or coworker how it feels to be ignored in an electronic store
  • Thinking about how you would feel if you paid more for your dry cleaning, alterations and hair cuts
  • Watching TV exposès about women paying more for cars than her male counterpart, getting worse tee times, and being paid $.72 for every dollar a man makes with the same education, experience and capabilities.

These are the facts; the realities a woman faces daily.

Myth: Given the identical set of circumstances, men and women will generally react the same and come to the same conclusions.

Reality: Men and women have different physical characteristics, brain construction, hormones and life experiences. This allows us to be very unique individuals with distinct personalities and traits. Many reflect our gender. Others are innate or developed in response to the norms of society.

The important thing to realize is when you are selling to a woman, or a man, think of him/her as a unique individual. Focus on his/her specific needs. Realize that gender does play a role in who we are.

To be successful, you may need to dispel some myths you have heard and believed for a long time. Accept the reality of our differences and use them to your advantage. Create a win-win selling situation and watch your business prosper.


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