Understanding your customers is the crux of successful marketing and media relations campaigns. Determining what is important to them – both right now and for their future – is the key to getting your message to resonate.
Communications agency FleishmanHillard, in partnership with Hearst Magazines, recently released the fifth wave of their Women, Power & Money study, which analyzes women’s lives, lifestyles and marketplace impact. Women from five countries were surveyed as part of the study. However, the data presented in the report we refer to here was reported from the 1,008 U.S. women interviewed, as well as 503 U.S. men for comparison purposes.
The report states, “The fifth wave of Women, Power & Money finds the American woman feeling increasingly independent, knowledgeable and successful as she continues growing into her leadership roles in the home, marketplace and workplace.” It continues, “With economic anxiety easing, she also brings a sharper, more strategic focus on her future and that of her family.” Here are a few of the key findings:
- Looking into the future: The study looks at the autonomy and success women feel, trends in the purchasing habits of women and the ideas she has regarding her future. “More than ever, brands can no longer rely on understanding what she wants today. They must understand and facilitate her aspirations for her (and her family’s) future,” the report states. “Brands that understand, respect and facilitate her longer-term journey will connect with her most effectively.”
- Tailoring your message: The study emphasizes the importance of understanding the generational differences in purchasing habits, and tailoring your message based on the desires of each target audience. “The fine tuning of messaging by gender and generation is more imperative than ever,” it says. “Brands seeking to connect with young women in particular must speak to her confidence and concerns, her aspirations and anxieties.”
As the graphic below (see figure 1) shows, the study found 70% of Generation Y women (ages 21 to 34) describe themselves as “smart.” However, only 63% of Generation X women (ages 35 to 49) and only 57% of Boomer women (aged 50 and older) describe themselves as “smart.” The report says, “[Gen Y women] are the first to grow up in a post-Title IX world where few question the message that ‘girls can do anything boy can do’ – an ideal for which Boomer women fought, and to which Xers adapted.”
- How women see themselves: The common terms women use to identify themselves have shifted since the last iteration of the Women, Power & Money study. The attributes “independent,” “knowledgeable” and “successful” have all risen at least five percentage points from Wave 4 of the study, released in January 2012. Interestingly, the percentage of women describing themselves as “kind” decreased from 73% in Wave 4 to 68% in Wave 5. The graphic to the right illustrates these trends (see figure 2).
- Brand loyalty (or lack thereof): The study also explores deeper intricacies of how much someone’s satisfaction with a product or service relates to their continued use and loyalty. The research found that across twelve categories, 81 percent of the women surveyed and 74 percent of the men surveyed are extremely or very satisfied with the products and services they currently use. However, the report goes on to explain that satisfaction correlates only modestly with brand loyalty. “Even brands that satisfy their customers cannot assume loyalty or repeat business, and must strive for continuous improvement.”
When it comes to reaching your audience, ignorance is not bliss. It is important to be proactive in knowing the ever-changing priorities of your audience as well as keeping up with media trends that will best enable you to reach her. And while seemingly obvious, never lose sight of the fact that beyond the attributes and habits, she is a person. In fact, it might not be a bad idea to try out your message first with a few real people who represent your audience to be sure your message does indeed resonate.
“She’s here. She’s in charge…She continues growing into her leadership roles with confidence and pride, and an occasional shift in demeanor,” the Women, Power & Money report states. “Brands that connect with and respect this sensibility will have the advantage, particularly if they can help her lead more effectively, while staying true to her identity and ideals.”