Marketing to Women

Does your packaging connect women to your brand?

Connecting to women's needs and lifestyles is one of the biggest untapped opportunities, according to Faith Popcorn, futurist and author of EVEolution. Tom Peters agrees. In Circle of Innovation, he emphasizes, "It is a ridiculously rare corporation that takes advantage of the women's opportunities. What a costly mistake."

Costly mistakes is something Lee Sucharda Jr. is hired to prevent. He's the CEO of Racine, Wis.-based Design North, specialists in branding and packaging. Sucharda told attendees at the March International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago he believes it's crucial that your packaging connects women to your brand. "After all, more than 80 percent of household purchases are made by women," says Sucharda, "and 60 to 80 percent of women consumers feel misunderstood by marketers."

Talkin' our language

Napa-based Beringer Blass Wine Estates launches a California wine "designed by women expressly for the female consumer" -- who, incidentally, purchases 80 percent of wine sold in the U.S.

Beringer's team discovered 80 percent of women are dissatisfied with their appearance and 45 percent are on a diet on any given day, so they developed White Lie Early Season Chardonnay. It's low in calories, sugar and alcohol and is made by a technique that involves harvesting grapes early in the picking season.

Female consumers have a great deal of clout. Sucharda points out that women control more than 51 percent of the U.S. private wealth, and that will increase to 60 percent by 2010. Single women head 27 percent of households. And women own a majority of all stocks on the New York Stock Exchange.

"The competitive playing field gets leveled at the retail shelf," says Sucharda. "If the consumer picks up your product for consideration, 80 percent of the time it ends up in their shopping cart." What motivates a woman to pick up a product? "They look for the benefits -- how it makes her life easier, healthier, more fun for her and her family -- rather than the features of the product," Sucharda explains. "They want good value, a product that meets its promise, food with nutritional benefits, convenience of use, or shorter preparation time, and products with extended use occasions; resealable is very desirable."

Packaging is crucial, because consumers miss more than one-third of the packages on a shelf. They recognize color first, followed by shape, symbols and lastly text. "Women want packages that are designed for ease of use, for on-the-go, appetite appeal, structures that appeal to both hand and eye, resealable and functional, smaller serving sizes for less waste, beverages in a variety of sizes, quantities and types, and they prefer plastic to glass in some categories," he says. "Women also like their small indulgences and are willing to pay more for them."

In Trading Up, authors Michael Silverstein and Neil Fiske emphasize female consumers have the means, the motives and the opportunities to purchase goods – especially goods that meet important emotional needs. "In our interviews, we found female consumers are highly attuned to the subtle messages contained in brands, colors and the minutest details of design, manufacture and packaging – and from a very young age." They want products that persuade subtly, not a hard-sell message.

"Successful companies sell brands – not products," says Sucharda. "A brand is a product's fingerprint, its identity, a personality that appeals to consumers on an instinctual, emotional level. It makes them not only want a product, but need it because it has become an integral part of their lifestyle and who they are.

"Packaging design is probably the most important and valuable tool you have at your disposal. You need to create an intense connection between her and your brand," he continues. And since it can cost $25,000-$40,000 to create a brand, once you've established it, "You have to keep broadening its appeal, without losing its uniqueness," he adds. "Word of mouth on your brand is powerful, in fact 54 percent of purchases are influenced by one woman's recommendation to another. But beware: If the product doesn't meet her expectations, she won't try it again."

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