Marketing to Women: A book review by Bob Morris

Marketing to Women: How to Understand, Reach, and Increase Your Share of the Largest Market Segment
Marti Barletta
Kaplan Business (2002)

How to Succeed in the World’s Largest Market Segment

In this uniquely informative volume, Barletta answers three separate but related questions: “What makes women a worthwhile market?”,  “Why market differently to women?” and “How do we get beyond gender generalities to actionable tactics?” In her Introduction, she lists “Eight Myths of Marketing to Women” which, during the course of her book’s narrative, she convincingly repudiates. For example, #5: With women, marketing is all about relationships. “While it’s true that women put more emphasis on relationships — personal and corporate — than men do, their purchase decisions and response to communications are affected by far more than `relationships.’ From word meaning to word-of-mouth referrals, product priorities to Internet usage patterns, women differ from men in many, many marketing dimensions. And, to overlook their complexities would be to undermine the effectiveness of your company’s programs.” According to Barletta, there are four components of the women’s market: earning power (“What’s in her wallet?”), high-net worth women (“the ultimate asset-holders”), consumer spending power (the “household chief purchasing officer”), and women in business (“controlling the company checkbook”).

A majority of consumers in the U.S. are women. Research indicates that online spending will increase 26% this year to $96 billion. Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of the economy and women influence 95% and make 85% of all consumer buying decisions; moreover, the majority of corporate purchasing agents and managers are women. Female entrepreneurs account for 70% of new business start-ups. If you are still unconvinced of the upside potential of marketing to women, consider these facts:

• Between 1970 and 1990, the number of women living alone doubled from 7.3 million to 15.3 million and this pattern has continued.
• At least 55% of those online each day are women.
• By the year 2010, women will control 60% of wealth in the U.S.
• College students were responsible for $210 billion in sales in 2002 and 58% of them were female.
• Women purchase more than 50% of the cars and own more than 46% of the homes in the U.S.
• More than half of all business travelers are women.

In Part II of her book, Barletta introduces and then explains what she calls the GenderTrend™ Marketing Model, a systematic and simple tool to help her readers understand, reach, and increase their share of the world’s largest market — women. The model is designed to achieve three objectives:

1. “Structure the complexities of the gender differences into an organized view of female [in italics] gender culture.”

2. “Show you how gender culture interacts with each of the 12 [in italics] marketing elements [end italics] in the marketing mix.”

3. “Apply the resulting insights to the four stages of the consumer’s purchase path.” FYI, the four are activation through market entry, nomination of purchase options to consider, investigation and decision with regard to nominees, and finally, succession (i.e. repeat business and, hopefully, evangelistic loyalty).

Few books fully deliver on the promises stated or implied in their subtitle. Barletta’s book is the commendable exception. She offers a wealth of information and an abundance of wisdom that will help decision-makers in literally any organization (regardless of size or nature) to understand, reach, and increase their share of “the world’s largest market segment.” This book provides just about everything you need to do precisely that. What are you waiting for?


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