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Selling to Women

January 2005
There's been a lot of talk lately about the female demographic. The CE business may have been considered a man's world in the past, but as this archaic notion is challenged, retailers and manufacturers are waking up to this brand of consumer. Some retailers are already well-attuned to the idea, creating showrooms and environments that appeal to women (and plenty of men, too).

But there are other changes to make in the retail environment that will help dealers appeal to what women want, or don't want. This month, Dealerscope spoke with Jen Drechsler, co-director of brand consulting for Just Ask A Woman, a consumer marketing consultant group that specializes in women consumers. She's worked with retailers such as Saks 5th Avenue, Toys-R-Us and most recently, Best Buy. Drechsler advised Best Buy on its Concentricity Store project, in which the retailer is experimenting with store redesign in order to attract new customers.-David Dritsas

There's a lot of talk about the female demographic, but is it really all that different than the male demographic?

When you talk about marketing to women, "different" always used to be bad. That's why in the '80s you had women wearing suits with fake bow ties. But over the years, women have learned to respect the differences. Different isn't bad, different is just different, and different isn't better, either.

When you think about women as consumers, they're just very different animals than men are. What's really different about women is the way that they're able to have 360 degree vision and hearing all the time; that makes a huge difference as consumers. This is also something that really comes into play at retail. When women go to a store, they are observing everything. They notice if the bathroom is dirty or that the person behind the register is fighting with their manager. They know if the isles are dirty. These are things that are in a woman's nature—noticing so much.

Is it dangerous to classify all women into one type of person?

I think for the CE category, which hasn't tried to think about them at all, starting to think of them is a good first step. Once you understand who your customer is, the better you can get. When we worked with Best Buy, we identified a segment that they thought was important to their strategy, which was a mom with children—not quite infants and toddlers, but school-aged children—who are working at home. Those were the woman they really wanted to understand. The work we did with them was to identify how many different women that is. We asked: What's their confidence level with technology? Do they love to shop? (Which is one of the biggest myths about women.) We dialed down to who is the exact woman [Best Buy] was looking for. Yes, they knew they wanted moms, but [we asked] what about the ones that are technology adverse? The women who, once they've adopted technology into their lives, become ambassadors or evangelists about their Palm pilots.

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