Is there a difference between marketing to men and marketing to women?

We might all be human but we definitely aren’t all the same. All things being equal, the difference between people is more evident when you compare those from Mars (the males), to those from Venus (the females), In this article I am going to talk in generalisms, which I don’t tend to like to do. In this case though, there is no other way to tackle the topic. If you don’t feel you, as a man or a woman, fit what I am saying then great! You aren’t a robot. This piece is about how the brains of men and women tend to be wired.

Since we are all human and we all have the same basic needs (food, clothing, shelter, companionship), shouldn’t products enjoyed by both sexes be marketed to men and women in the same manner?

Men and women both enjoy driving cars, so should the same car be advertised to both sexes in the same way, with the same features being highlighted? After considering the following differences between male and female perception of products, the answer to this question will probably be a resounding “NO”.

1.  Functionality vs. Emotion

When men consider buying a product, they tend to look towards the functionality of that product more than anything else.

According to Infintechdesigns, a St Orleans based Ad Agency, women, on the other hand, look at a product and take into consideration not just functionality but also the possibility of gaining a tactile an emotional experience from the product. That is, women want their products to have an emotion-appeal.

For example, when advertising a car to men, a male customer wants to hear words like fast, strong, reliable, and fuel efficient. When advertising the same car to women, words like safe, family ride, happy, and comfort will be more likely to sway the female demographic towards purchasing that car. This means women, especially family women, look for product features that will serve their families or help them enjoy life better. Men on the other hand seem to be more interested in products that can “get the job done efficiently”.

In addition, while both male and female athletes  work out to keep in shape, when it comes to taking supplements for peak performance, we see a lot more supplementary products being marketed to men. Supplements for strength appeal to functionality and less to emotion.

2.  Price vs. Brand

A study done at Massey University in 2008 by Dr. Gurvinder Shergill and Yiyin Chen suggested that the average woman is more likely to be interested in comparison shopping, or getting a better deal, than the average man. The study also showed that men, regardless of the price, are more likely to purchase a product based on its brand. If a product’s brand is one a man is familiar with and prefers, there’s a much greater chance of him buying that product rather than a lesser priced option of an unfamiliar brand.

3.  CPA (Cost per Acquisition)

Compared to men, women are more likely to try out something new and exciting. Because of this, a well-timed and designed advert or sales pitch can have an easier time converting a woman compared to convincing men to try a new product.

Because convincing a bull-headed man takes more time, effort and cunning, it leads to a higher Cost per Acquisition (CPA). That is, it costs more to win a man over. A woman on the other hand requires less CPA because less marketing is required to sway her into attempting an unfamiliar but useful looking product.

4.  Practicality vs. Luxury

In 2010, ZipRealty Inc. carried out a survey that suggested that women and men looking to buy real estate have a different take on “deal- breakers” and “must-haves”. While more women were interested in having more space, more garden, and bigger rooms and considered these to be a high priority, men apparently were interested in other things.

Men looking to buy a home wanted a good view, more guest bedrooms and a nice bathroom. This implies that women are interested in products that offer more comfort and emotional satisfaction (luxury) while most men are more interested in functionality/practicality. This ties in with what was stated earlier in the Functionality vs. Emotion section.

5.  Elaboration vs. Simplicity

This is a bold sweeping generalisation that I am only going to evidence by saying it is conventional wisdom in marketing circles. When being marketed a product, men want just the bullet points – “This product can do this, give you that, and avoids that…” When marketing to a woman on the other hand, elaboration that communicates loads of detail and emotional cues is more appreciated.

6.  Product Navigation

According to Brendan Wilde, Marketing Manager at Web Hosting company  Umbrellar Cloud, “Product navigation is vital in creating an environment in which users are comfortable. At different stages of the sales process site visitors may be looking for different things, and so you need to ensure that Main top and side navigation provides the options that they expect. If you don't meet visitor expectations with site and product navigation, then you will not be providing a very good user journey”.

When shopping, be it online or in a physical store, men generally want to buy what they came for and get out. Women on the other hand like to savour the experience and if possible see all that’s available. Thus, when offering a product to a man, a marketer is better off sticking to what the male consumer is interested in. But with a female customer, a marketer is allowed to digress and mention other products. For example, on a male focused online store, the site’s navigation needs to focus on pointing male customers towards their target. A female oriented online store on the other hand can afford to offer a multitude of options and an opportunity for customers to further search through the site catalogue.

Benefits of tailoring a marketing strategy to suit your audience

While it might be convenient to go with a one-size-fits-all blanket approach in marketing, it is not necessarily an efficient way to get the job done. Here’s what you stand to gain if you approach individual customers with a sales pitch customized specifically for them;

  1. A tailored marketing strategy is more effective in convincing and converting a targeted customer. For example, offering a male customer who is single the same features that enabled you to sell a car to a married mother will most likely not convince the male customer to buy.
  2. A tailored marketing strategy is more effective at ensuring and improving customer retention. That is, a personalized sales pitch is more likely to inspire brand loyalty in a customer.
  3. A tailored marketing strategy is less wasteful of resources. When a single customer is targeted with the most appropriate strategy, it becomes less a game of chance and more of a well-defined move designed for success.

Take the sniper approach in your marketing rather than the scattergun approach. Above all try to understand the profile of your target market. Then you can begin to focus in on giving them what they want, whether they are male or female, you or old.


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