Women have always had a powerful influence on purchasing decisions, particularly when it comes to hard goods such as houses and cars. Today, however, women enjoy even more power -- cutting out the "middle" man, so to speak. They are now Canada's major purchasers. Today, women buy or influence the purchase of 80% of all consumer goods! 50% of the people who buy cars and PC's are women -- and, in fact, the world wide web, which was once extremely male-dominated, is now the favoured medium of most women. Why the big change? With today's complex times, women seem to have a physiological advantage. Certainly, hundreds of books have been written about the differences between men and women, but perhaps the most popular these days is "Women are from Venus. Men are from Mars", which outlines the pyschological and physiological differences -- but barely touches on how to market to either of the genders. Our job is to translate these differences into meaningful marketing approaches. So, rather than entertain the old "foils", let's look at the differences in men and women and how to market to the gentler sex:

Men are solitary. Women are groupies.

This has been a constant since Adam and Eve. Companies such as Tupperware made a fortune in the fifties by tapping into this very essential ingredient in a woman's makeup. A woman needs to belong to a group! She loves to talk with other women, share experiences, etc. A marketer must cater to this need to belong -- enabling women to rally around their brand name in the same way that they rallied around Tupperware. Of course, a marketer must be sensitive in appealing to this characteristic -- and avoid gratuitous marketing that will quickly turn a woman off. Always remember that women are not easily fooled!!

Men are single-minded. Women think in "broadband"

Men's brains are hard-wired to deal with one subject at a time. On the other hand, women's brains are able to deal with many subjects simultaneously. (By the way, the reason why women are so adept at multi-tasking is because they have children and they're constantly trying to keep their children in check. They may be cooking dinner, but they've also got a keen eye on what their kids are doing in the backyard). So, market to women as though they were a group of gifted jugglers -- but give them products that make their juggling act easy.

Men speak directly. Women use the "wavelength" theory.

More than any other characteristic this one has provided for many a heated battle in the War of The Sexes. Women expect men to know exactly what they are thinking -- and by the same token, they expect manufacturers to understand their deepest needs. This means a manufacturer must think one step ahead of a woman and try to surprise her with outstanding quality and service. It also means that a manufacturer should hire a woman as their marketing guru (sorry, guys, but women are responsible for 70% of the purchases in America today).

Women don't like to get "hit on".

Aggressiveness just doesn't cut it with women! Every lounge lizard ought to know that (but, of course, most truisms never seem to dawn upon those that they were meant for). Women like to "warm up" to a product -- which means the product should be presented in a non-glaring light and preferably have some sort of social value.

Women work hard. So work hard to please them.

All joking aside, men and women work equally hard -- but women work differently. They work at a larger variety of chores. If they are businesswomen, they are often called upon to still do the housework -- which is a career in itself. So if you, as a marketer can make their lives easier, then go for it! E-commerce, for example, makes life much easier by offering the convenience of ordering a product, then having it delivered to the door. Okay. So what's the bottom line? The bottom line is that convenience is the key to winning a woman's heart!

Emphasize family values.

Women are family-oriented. We cannot emphasize enough that the NUMBER ONE strongest bond on the planet earth is the bond between a mother and her daughter. Sheesh, it's almost frightening to us the lengths that these women will go to, to protect each other. Think of it as kind of like a super Crazy Glue. Marketers of women's products might want to adjust their products slightly so they are useable by younger women -- and then emphasize the "learning process" between older women and younger women.

Give women the ultimate in convenience! Ah, yes! Did we mention that convenience is the key to winning a woman's heart?

Only 10% of the women surveyed had never made an online purchase.
58% of women said that convenience was their major motivator for shopping online.

To women, the definition of convenience is different than it is to most males. For most men, convenience means easy. It means freeing up time for leisure. For women, especially with the increase of single parent families, convenience means not having to leave children in the care of others (freeing up the associated costs and offering them more time to spend with their family, etc.) When it comes to women, every second counts!

Though the following may be deemed politically incorrect, it is a gentle poke at the never ending battle between the sexes. Both genders find it funny. To those surfers who complained that it was sexist, c'mon, lighten up.

In a survey commissioned by the Yahoo and Starcom Mediawest Group called "Real Women. Digital World", the survey found that
the Internet is the favoured medium among women and is also the 4th most time intensive activity behind work, sleep and time spent with the family. The most popular subjects are news, weather, finance and games - items not found in most popular magazines.
Women use other forms of media to learn about web sites.
Women fall into eight personality types, which often overlap in their online activities. Women are comfortable spending time online at work related to non-work activities, mainly because of the increasing amount of hours they are spending in the workplace and the amount of personal time they spend on work related issues. The important finding for marketers: women's online spending habits are increasing and they are also using web sites extensively to make decisions before purchasing in the offline world. The survey provided some very interesting insights into the activity levels of women that blow away a lot of myths:
46.9% of women said that they spent more time on the Internet during the previous 12 months.
47% of working women used their personal Internet connection for work-related issues during non-working hours. Women visit news and information sites more than shopping, family and entertainment sites.
43% of the women surveyed made regular online purchases.