Women make up half the UK workforce and it is predicted that by the
year 2020, 20 per cent of fathers will be ’house parents’ while their
partners assume the role of chief bread winner. In addition to this,
single women with full-time careers are now the fastest growing group of
home-owners. All of which indicates that the future for sales is
Women should be a more attractive target market for products outside the
traditional female arena of clothes, make-up and food. But are
communications professionals missing a big trick by failing to take
advantage of this growing opportunity to expand sales?
When it comes to communicating male-orientated products like computers,
hi-fis and gadgets, women are still way down on the agenda - if they are
there at all. The lack of communication with women suggests that they
are just not interested in these products or that they are
But bearing in mind that reports claim that 40 per cent of internet
users are women, this is obviously not true.
Women certainly have the buying power for these products - but are we
getting the messages across to create the desire for them? This is where
I believe we and our clients have our work cut out - we need to find a
way of getting these onto the ’must have’ list for women.
Even when there is a general marketing push made to interest women in
traditionally male products, it is usually for a female version which is
smaller and cheaper - from nippy little cars to coloured mobile
If we are ever going to get women to buy bigger we need to create the
desire to know more about the benefits of the ’best’ and therefore the
more expensive models. Otherwise, women will be destined for a life of
small and elegant, rather than big and ballsy.
As communication professionals we need to identify the triggers which
will encourage women to buy big so that we can raise awareness of the
benefits they should be looking for. And we are in the best position to
do so, seeing as consumer PR is predominantly female!
I think that the key word here is ’trust’. While men are more likely to
be won over by products which promise the best, women remain more
sceptical and worry about being conned. This is where PR’s role in the
marketing mix is important because women need to be won over and
persuaded. While advertisements are limited in the messages they convey,
PR can communicate the benefits in a language which relates to women.
Women want the results of technology - efficiency, speed, better quality
and so on - but are not too bothered about how they get them.
PR’s role is crucial because unless women receive more information and
understand the benefits, price will continue to be the single biggest
discriminator. Women are more wary of spending on products they know
very little about and therefore are not buying big. Instead they are
pushed towards cheaper, feminine versions - which accounts for the
success of these models among women.
But if women continue to be excluded as a major target market for
bigger, more advanced models then they - and we - will be making a
serious business mistake. If communications professionals fail to take
advantage of the increasingly powerful female pound they will be
shutting off sales and profit margins. With this in mind, PR should be
leading the way and performing a vital educational role in broadening
women’s attitudes towards technology in all its forms.
Belinda Lawson is a director at Lawson Dodd Communications Management.