How Brands Can Target Female Consumers With Promotional Campaigns

today's marketers are still having women's issues. 

With the likes of Ronda Rousey, Jessica Ennis, Geri Stengel, Angela Merkel and Melinda Gates (plus a whole host of others), there's never been a better time for brands to engage female consumers with their promotional campaigns. So, why are brands and promotions still slow to pick up on this? Read on to discover the answer...

We don’t know if it’s all this talk about going gender neutral, but today’s marketers still seem to be having women’s issues.

What we’d like to know is, why are some brands still finding it hard to target women? At a time when women are riding high in traditionally male dominated arenas such as sport, politics and technology, the opportunities to engage with this market are huge.

And none more so than with brand promotional campaigns and competitions.

Female consumers need to be engaged by brand campaigns. Why? Because as we all know, women make 80% of purchasing decisions. As Bridget Brennan, author of ‘Why She Buys: The New Strategy for Reaching the World’s Most Powerful Consumers’, says, “if the consumer economy had a sex, it would be female.”  

Women influence men’s buying decisions reaching across multiple markets. They’re partners or wives, mothers of children and carers of elderly parents. They’re also often the person in charge of birthdays and Christmases, after Santa’s been accounted for.

The list is nearly as long as the guy in the red suit’s, but one way or another, if you can engage a female audience, you can change behaviour and pull in some massive purchasing power.

Don't mention the 'p' word

There’s no time for pink, patronising parp here. Yet we’re still seeing lots of it. Women are breaking ground in exciting new areas, presenting fresh opportunities for advertisers who are wise to this. The summer of 2017 saw the Women’s Rugby World Cup Final featured on an evening prime time TV slot on British screens for the first time. It presented a great chance for TV advertisers to get in front of sports lovers.

Just a shame then that some bright spark decided this would be the perfect time to broadcast a female hygiene product advert. Targeted advertising that translated as a clear signal that brands think it is only women who have an appreciation for women’s sport. Slightly undermining, no? At best, it was an example of the sort of desperation there is when it comes to finding the female audience.

It’s this sort of move that went out with the colour pink as a hook for marketers. Remember the pink BlackBerry? It’s hard to believe that launched in 2006, just ten years ago – but look what happened there.

So, where are the opportunities for brands to talk to women? And how can they make sure they don’t sound patronising while they do it? If you can understand what your consumers think of your own consumer promotions, you'll be halfway there...

Dove, the innocent of women's advertising

Google women’s advertising and the brand that keeps popping up in every search, is Dove. Dove, the company that pioneered empowerment marketing more than a decade ago with its "Real Beauty" campaign. You know the one.  

Kathy O’Brien, vice president at Unilever, Dove's parent company, said at the time: "Our mission is to inspire women and girls to develop a positive relationship with beauty — this has not changed or faltered." 

Dove, it seems, remains as devoted as ever to reaching women with messages that differ from the traditional norm’. 

But, the question is, can a beauty brand targeting women ever really avoid backlash?

For every 5 women who are refreshed by seeing non-standard ideals of beauty, there will be one who feels ‘beauty’ shouldn’t be involved in skincare at all.

Tapping into the wellness trend

It’s funny you should ask that. We told you they had this category sewn up - and Dove are really getting it right online.

They’ve won plaudits for their #SpeakBeautiful Twitter campaign, inspiring conversation around body shaming. They worked with Twitter to devise a tool that breaks down which body-related words people use the most and when negative chatter peaks during the day.

 Tapping into the idea that self-esteem and social media are linked was a great move for the beauty brand, namely because it plays to the insight that women are prolific social media users. By using social network channels to start a dialogue with the ‘shareability’ factor, a brand can empower consumers and become an authentic voice in a less intrusive way.

Now we’re getting somewhere. 

Even perfume brands are finally realising they need to work harder to attract consumers. I mean, who was Keira Knightley in leathers really appealing to? A fine example of recent progress is Chanel’s Gabrielle fragrance ad featuring Kristen Stewart. It’s set to Beyoncé’s inspiring ‘Running’ track and while it does feature nudity, its lasting image was one of uplifting emotion and physicality.

Enough with the beauty brands we hear you say. If your brand isn’t known to a female market, what can you do? 

We believe that experiential marketing with a social media tie in is a strong way to go. Peugeot 108 wanted more young women to discover their cars, so they set up a #My108 studio, a personalised, fun and engaging experience, which was taken to UK festivals. Visitors could engage with the car whilst being encouraged to take lots of selfies and photo content to upload to Twitter and Instagram. It was a huge success.

If you're ready to make your promotions a success, there's no better place to start than our consumer and shopper insights report. Click below to get a copy of the report that'll change your plans...

Download Your Free Customer Loyalty Planning Sheet

women are big on social

It seems that social media marketing offers massive opportunities for brands to successfully get in front of female audiences.

Sodexo’s ‘Savvy Cynics 2- Consumer Promotions: What Shoppers Think in 2017’ survey reveals that while shoppers remain savvy cynics, they are now socially savvy cynics, increasingly using social media to engage with brands in competitions and promotions.

And leading the way on social media, are, yes, you know it…women.

Key findings included:

  1. Women are driving the popularity of social media

Last year the number of men and women who entered competitions using social media was quite close at 8.95% and 7.20% respectively.

This year 13.24% of women cited social media as a preferred channel, compared to just 8.37% of men. It shows a leap with a lenience towards Facebook as the preferred channel for entering competitions promoted by a brand.

Around 40% of women say they engage with promotions like this – an increase of over 12% compared to last year. Instagram has also seen growth, with over 15% of women claiming to enter competitions via the channel, nearly twice as many as last year. Facebook is where it’s at.  

  1. Women are less engaged with promotions while in-store

Our research also showed that women are turning away from in-store promotions thanks to this shift towards digital.

The number of women redeeming a coupon or entering a draw in store dropped from 23.74% in 2016 to 17.35% in 2017. It could be due to the rise in online shopping generally, but digital savvy shoppers are seeking out new channels to engage in promotional activity.

Brands need to ensure that they take an omni-channel view with promotions, making sure they can be entered either in-store, via social or via the supermarket or brand website.

  1. Parents are more inclined to spread the word

Brands need to tread a careful line when targeting mothers as being too ‘preachy’ could backfire. But there are returns to be found for the right brands who manage to get in front of parents.

When asked if they ever tell friends and family members about product promotions or competitions, only 6.25% of parents said they did last year, compared to 5.17% of non-parents.

This year, parents have become more avid sharers, with 11.78% of parents saying they spread the word to others, compared to 5.69% of non-parents.

targeted promotions to women can mean smiles all round...

Everyone wants to be a winner

The Sodexo report into consumer habits shows us that women are increasingly sharing promotions online with friends and family. What could be better then, to devise brand activity around a carefully managed competition to drive brand awareness and loyalty?

Social media users want engaging content from a brand – if they feel you aren’t an active voice with something to offer consumers, they’ll unfollow you faster than 50 inch TVs sell out on Black Friday. 

There’s no doubt that the prize incentive is an oldie but a goodie. And it’s a great way to engage with female audiences instore and online, driving content across social networking sites.

This year Facebook was the most popular social media network for sharing news of competitions and promotions among 35-44 year olds (31.03%), but in 2016 it was 25-34 year olds who did so.

With female audiences readily engaged with competitions and online promotions, a cash prize or money-can’t-buy experience can help marketers maximum return on investment whilst creating engaging content that goes viral with ease.

Many entries make light work

Brands should also seek ways to encourage multiple entries via different social networking platforms. Instagram is growing in popularity across the age ranges, so if people can enter more than once and in different ways, you boost your chances to increase brand exposure.

As always, creating meaningful experiences should be top of every marketing bucket list.

Targeting women needn't be hard work.With the right mix of engaging creative, strong strategy and clever thinking, there’s no reason why your brand campaign can’t be the next big word in marketing to women.

And you don’t need to be a beauty brand to do it!

So there you have it.

Targeting, engaging and connecting with female consumers isn't overly difficult.

In fact, all you have to do is click on that graphic below and you'll be one step closer to gold dust like the above.

The sort of gold dust that'll not only improve your engagement with women, but discover the brands who are creating that long-lasting engagement with all their consumer, too.


Then click below:

Click Here to Get Your Copy of the 2018 Brand Loyalty Index by Sodexo