On a global scale, more women are in the workforce, and within the household they drive 70-80 percent of all consumer purchasing decisions. Women also have a “multiplying effect” in that they make purchasing decisions not only for their immediate and extended family, but are also influential with other women and friends. In the Harvard Business Review Female Economy 2009 report, women purchasing power was predicted to control about $28 trillion in annual global consumer spending, if not more.
If you as a founder don’t think that appealing to women should be a part of your marketing strategy, you are wrong, and will lose. If you’re needing some tips to jumpstart your strategy and attract female consumers, take this advice from these female startups founders.
The Emotional Sell
Purchasing products from a brand you trust can be more of an emotional buy, and trust is one of the key factors to attracting the female shopper. If they know a product is good enough for their family and children, they will share that information with friends.
Natalie Kaminski, CEO and cofounder of goBaby.co, an on-demand rental marketplace for baby gear that helps reduce stress of traveling with little kids, is hyper-focused on gaining the trust of mothers.
“Focusing on emotion is key when communicating with female customers. Women tend to form lasting connections with products and services that created a positive feel for them. This is especially true when providing a product/service to children.”
Safety is also an important aspect to convey in your messaging when you’re trying to gain the trust of women.
“We try to create a brand that is fun and familiar, but also conveys the message of safety and love. Our motto is ‘Safe. Clean. Loved,'” Kaminski said.
Building trust also means establishing yourself as an expert in the marketplace. Maxeme Tuchman, CEO and cofounder of Caribu.co, an app that allows you to video call and have story time with your children together from anywhere in the world, targeted her company’s efforts on gaining referrals from women customers.
“We’ve intentionally targeted women’s publications and influencers that women trust – because moms trust other moms. Recently [we] have been building a referral program to reward women that share [our product] with other women,” Tuchman said.
If you’ve ever chuckled after watching an ad from larger brands such as, Dollar Shave Club, Geico or Doritos, the intentional use of humor is used to attract people to their product and absorb information about products or services in a short amount of time. Most importantly, humor can get customers talking about your product or service.
Julia Rose, CEO and cofounder of Vagine.co, a Kegel trainer and mobile app that helps women strengthen their pelvic floor, uses tasteful humor to open an uncomfortable topic about incontinence and sexual dysfunction which can be embarrassing to discuss. For example, the company’s hashtag is #freetheV.
“Because we knew we would have to make men and women comfortable when presenting our product, we are very sensitive to the audience and don’t shy away from humor. [We are] being as authentic as possible and using humor [in our messaging]. As a result, we all learn very quickly that no matter what we are struggling with, or shy about, we are not alone!” Rose said.
Whether it’s a male-focused product or not, the woman is going to have an opinion and most likely be the one purchasing the service or item.
Recent statistics show that women “purchase over 50 percent of traditional male products, including automobiles, home improvement products, and consumer electronics,” according to GirlPowerMarketing.
“If you’re not focused on selling to the female customers you’re going to lose,” Tuchman said. “[By example,] if you sell men’s body wash or razors, you’re probably still selling to a female customer. To have a successful sales strategy, it would behoove you to include women’s voices on your team, even if you’re selling [a men’s product].”
Connect With Your Customers
Connecting with your customer via social media, forums or advertising is the norm these days, but there’s nothing as strong as building a community around your brand. Rose has purposefully targeted her customers by holding local events focused on women’s health.
“Try and connect in-person as much as possible with your customer through presentations, events, meet and greets. Women are very intuitive customers and they will respond well to personal and tactile experiences,” Rose said.
Gain a Stronger Perspective
Just because you’re a woman, doesn’t mean you know everything about attracting female customers. A company can have the best marketing message, tactile strategy, and more, for their product, but it’s important to gain a deeper understanding of the target market. All founders agreed that by adding female mentors or board members to the mix helped them gain a stronger perspective of their potential customers to attract more business.
“As a startup founder you have to be crazy enough to think you can be an expert in everything but humble enough to know that you can’t get an A+ in everything,” Tuchman said. “Mentors help fill in the gaps and can serve to give you a holistic or landscape view of your industry. Just like any relationship, a mentor should make you and your company better and help you grow your business and grow as a person.”
Mentors can be instrumental in building the best quality product and messaging as a company grows and help you power through the ebb and flow of the startup journey.
“Many of the problems that startups encounter are the same across all industries, so if you can foresee those problems and somehow minimize their affect or avoid them altogether you put yourself in a much more advantageous position,” Kaminski said. “Mentors can help you anticipate issues and plan for them accordingly.”
Our founders offered some additional advice to companies on how to attract female customers.
- Women are great at smelling BS, so be as true to your mission as possible. – Rose
- Engaging people throughout the development of your product is key to building a successful company. – Kaminski
- It is important to make the education and purchase experience as easy as possible. – Rose
- There’s so much noise telling women it’s hard to be a female in tech. Focus on all the people and organizations that see it as a benefit. Grow your business, and don’t sweat the haters and naysayers. – Tuchman
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