From the March 2002 issue of Entrepreneur

Women control America's purse strings. In fact, nine out of 10 women identify themselves as the primary shopper for their household, and that includes purchasing or influencing sales of more than half of all consumer electronics and 75 percent of all over-the-counter drugs, as well as 80 percent of overall consumer goods, including vehicle purchases. In the past five years, the number of women-owned businesses increased at twice the rate of firms overall. And according to the Center for Women's Business Research, women entrepreneurs use many of the same brands in their businesses as they do at home. So chances are, whether you target businesses or consumers, improving the way you market to women can have a tremendous impact on your company's success.

Women customers buy quite differently than men. For women, price and availability are just the beginning. They approach a purchase as if they're entering into a relationship, evaluating it based on in-depth information about the product or service and the company behind it. An effective public relations program that communicates who you are and what you stand for is essential to wooing female consumers. And advertising success comes from eliminating the hard-sell approach and supplying the information women require to make educated decisions. As a result, it may take longer for you to win a new female customer, but once you do she's more likely to remain loyal.


Whether they're entrepreneurs, employees or stay-at-home moms, women make buying decisions based on vastly different criteria.

Know Your Customers

Despite their similarities, it's a mistake to look at female customers as a single, monolithic group. Whether they're entrepreneurs, employees or stay-at-home moms, women make buying decisions based on vastly different criteria. Motivating your women customers depends largely on understanding who they are and what they want. For example, women business owners are less likely to shop at malls, are more likely to shop from catalogs and prefer to get in and out of stores more quickly when compared to women employees, according to data from the Center for Women's Business Research. Women business owners are also more than twice as likely as women employees to contract for house-cleaning and lawn-care services-a critical piece of information for those who market cleaning franchises or landscape maintenance services.

To ensure your marketing messages resonate with your best female customers, continually refine your target audience profile and keep up-to-date on their buying preferences and needs. If you sell multiple products, for example, you should know which products your customers buy, their preferred method of purchase, where they learned about you and so on. You can facilitate two-way communication on your Web site and through a customer relationship management program. In all your customer-service activities, soliciting customer feedback is essential to building loyalty among your customer base.

To find out more about marketing to women, read EVEolution: The 8 Truths of Marketing to Women (Hyperion) by Faith Popcorn and Lys Marigold. For more details about women entrepreneurs, log on to the Center for Women's Business Research Web site, found at www.womensbusinessresearch.org.

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