Gender Marketing: He Brain vs. She Brain
A woman drives an extra 20 miles for a turquoise blue phone because the retailer she’s at only has the color black left in stock. Her male partner wonders, “Why go to all the hassle for turquoise, it’s just a phone?!” Meanwhile, he finds the tech specs and detailed description of the latest Oculus Rift headset tantalizing, while she wonders how technical jargon could possibly excite anyone. “Can’t they just write in plain English why anyone would be motivated to wear that clunky headgear?”
Knowing the differences between women’s and men’s brains offers not only a unique opportunity for marketers in the consumer technology space, but also calls into question how we’ve traditionally geared marketing messages to the male mind, thereby leaving money on the table by not effectively engaging the X Factor: the female demographic.
Women have two X chromosomes (XX), and Men have one X and one Y (XY). No matter your feelings about gender, chromosomes are critically important to expressing a variety of genetic information, including behavior and growth of organs – in particular, the brain. In a human being with an XX chromosome, brain development is differentiated from those with the XY chromosome. Scientists have discovered approximately 100 gender differences in the brain. As with everything in life, there are human outliers who defy their genetic gender proclivity, such as men who are more talkative and sensitive, and women who struggle with multi-tasking and are adrenaline junkies taking massive risks.
I am not suggesting that we can generalize across an entire gender population, however. What I am suggesting is, as most recognize, there is a biological difference in the sexes. By understanding gender differences, we can gain a crucial perspective about where marketing strategies have been missing the mark, oblivious to the enormous economic opportunity contained in shifting their messages to appeal to the majority actually holding the purse strings.
The Power of Purse Strings
Just how much power do the purse strings of a woman hold? Women account for $7 trillion of consumer purchases, while men account for less than $2 trillion. Forty-five percent of all consumer electronics purchases are made by women, and 61 percent of all consumer electronics purchased are influenced by a woman. Women account for 85 percent of all consumer purchases, including everything from autos to healthcare.
Just how different are the male and female brains? Part of the brain responsible for connecting the right and left sides of the brain, the corpus callosum, is larger and more developed in a woman’s brain, helping her to react to cues or tasks with speedier brain activation. Women exhibit more brain connectivity and overall brain activity than men - which might also explain why women are more sensitive to touch, sound, taste, and visuals, relying more on sensing cues and non-verbal messaging, thereby picking up on subtle nuances. In addition, research shows this increased brain connectivity might be the reason women far exceed their male counterparts in multi-tasking and following several trains of thought simultaneously.
Men and women also have different concentrations of neurotransmitters and hormones which impact behavior, further widening the divide in what motivates each gender to be moved to take action. Hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and oxytocin turn off a female audience when advertising is geared to a more aggressive testosterone appeal. Lower levels of testosterone and serotonin in females can cause women to be less thrill-seeking than men, and disinterested in crushing their opponent (a.k.a., beating out the other women in her circle). In contrast, nurturing friendships are center stage for women and they invest more of themselves into their friendships. Women, in general, are more expressive and supportive towards their friends than men, and they engage in more self-disclosure.
How this Information is Actionable
How do all of these differences play a role for companies offering products or services? By understanding a woman’s differences by brain structure and chemistry, marketers can target their message at a more sensitive and sensing, nurturing, connected, and community-based prospect. By focusing on what makes the genders unique, it delivers a roadmap of an entirely different marketing strategy and execution, thereby gaining a greater market share of the current $7 trillion X demographic.
Because women tend toward being more feeling and friendship-based, consider this: how does your advertising touch and reach her? Are you engaged with her on social media? Are you personalizing her journey and creating a user-friendly experience, eliminating unnecessary jargon? Are you appealing to her sensitivity to aesthetics, and non-verbal cues? Does your customer service department make her feel seen, heard, and cared for? Does your social media team “like,” and even better, respond to, her comments about your brand handle? Is your website dynamic and responsive to her, making her feel like you “get” her and that you’re her trusted advisor?
Bottom line: the companies who will experience the lion’s share of this incredibly wealthy X demographic are shifting their lead generation, content marketing, advertising, social media, mobile, and online experience to meet women where they live. As the chief purchasing officer of the home, women respond to curated relationships. By building a relationship with one woman, you build a relationship with her entire network. Successful companies harnessing this understanding stand to gain not only one customer when a woman is satisfied, but quite possibly all who are in her tribe.
As an internationally recognized expert on relationships, and the power of influence, Tamara McCleary is ranked by Klear in the Top One Percent of Global Social Media Influencers, and by LeadTail as the third-most retweeted person by CMOs. She is CEO of http://Thulium.co, an agency that creates brand narratives and dynamic content for targeted audiences on social media in the B2B and B2C space. Some of Thulium’s client roster includes IBM, Verizon, SYNNEX, Appboy, VentureBeat, and Kawasaki Motors. Find her on Twitter @TamaraMcCleary, LinkedIn Tamara McCleary, Facebook Tamara McCleary, Snapchat and Instagram.