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VOL. 125 | NO. 105 | Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Marketing the Whole Truth to Women

JOE BOONE | Special to The Daily News

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Women elude traditional information gathering methods  – They are empathetic and not only sympathize with the moderator or pollster, but can even seek their approval.

Marketers beware: a nodding woman is not necessarily agreeing with you.

That’s essentially the message Jen Drexler, partner in the New York-based consulting firm Just Ask a Woman, sent the American Advertising Federation Memphis last week.

Drexler, co-author of a new marketing book, “What She’s Not Telling You: Why Women Hide the Whole Truth and What Marketers Can Do About It,” is quick to differentiate this behavior from lying.

“This is not outing my sisterhood,” she said.

Drexler’s group advances a more qualitative approach in marketing to women. And major companies are paying attention. Her clients include Best Buy, Kraft Foods and Estee Lauder.

The idea is that women don’t like being the subject of quantitative data-gathering methods such as rapid questioning by a stranger or probing questions about personal habits.

So they give market researchers what Drexler calls “half-truths.”

Drexler pointed to phrases like “my sister would love that” as examples of the justifiable obfuscation that women use when bombarded with poorly designed quantitative methods.

Women can express their good intentions over their real behaviors. For example, women report healthy habits, but smoking is up.

And women often report that they are extremely busy, but Drexler said they make time for what they want.

“Well, 24 million of them watched the “Dancing with the Stars” finale,” she said.

Drexler refers to focus groups as “the f-word.”

Drexler has conducted 15,000 personal interviews over her 11-year career. She uses what she calls “emotional forensics,” a way to is listen to consumers “with an ear to the underlying psychological triggers that motivate their behavior.”

Drexler and her firm stress that quantitative market research methods that put women in uncomfortable situations can get poor or even disastrous results.

Dove mismanaged marketing data when it responded to women’s answers that indicated, to paraphrase, that beauty was on the inside. Dove ran a campaign featuring “normal” women, resulting in an erosion of growth from 12 percent to 1 percent.

Women bought the product to look better.

“Marketers bite because the answers feel familiar and validate what they think they know about women,” write the authors.

They describe why women elude traditional information gathering methods. They are empathetic and not only sympathize with the moderator or pollster, but can even seek their approval.

Marketers need to understand how women express themselves and how they make decisions. Women make slow, careful decisions after consulting with a trusted group of friends.

Local companies understand that women represent a huge market and a distinct set of marketing challenges.

Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women found that women make 80 percent of health care decisions. Data also show that they are busy and have trouble fitting health care into work and family responsibilities.

Baptist’s communications team developed the HER Baptist campaign (Health, Education and Resources for Women).

Baptist launched two strategies around special events and providing online resources.

The Pink Tie is a fashion show featuring breast cancer survivors as models. Baptist partnered with The Avenue Carriage Crossing and brought a mobile mammography unit. The mobile unit provides screening mammograms to businesses and groups throughout the city.

There is also a satellite location at Macy’s Oak Court, where women can get walk-in mammograms.

“We need to show women that Baptist will come to them,” said Valerie Robilio, senior coordinator of public relations.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 81 277 20,909
MORTGAGES 85 329 24,074
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 39 3,086
BUILDING PERMITS 219 672 43,265
BANKRUPTCIES 64 238 13,418
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 56 6,678
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 82 7,871
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 59 4,702