Complex Made Simple

Get real, brands: Are you digitally smart to reach women customers?

Conversations about the best way to target women can certainly be divisive. Several recent brandings aimed at female consumers have received pushback for appearing clumsy and patronising, while others have been deemed mere stunts with little intrinsic value.

Marketers need to think more strategically beyond cheap tricks, making things pink, or adding female icons to labels to reach women.


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But this overt approach to some campaigns might be explained by the fact that across the board, digital campaigns have a much harder time targeting and reaching females.

“Worryingly, this is particularly true for some huge verticals: shopping, retail and travel. Indicative research shows the same is true for automotive and electronic brands,” says Kate Slaymaker, Media Analytics Commercial Lead, Nielsen.

Digital is high on the advertising agenda, but the numbers show that women spend less time online than men and, therefore, are harder to reach. Where they can be reached more effectively is through TV, Slaymaker notes in a write-up ‘Thinking beyond Pink: Advertisers need to be smarter on digital to really reach women’.

“Brands that advertise during news or political programs tend to have higher cut through for women than men,” she says.


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Many advertisers and agencies alike see digital as a medium to drive incremental reach against TV.

Nielsen’s Total Ad Ratings database illustrates that male-targeted campaigns are more efficient at delivering incremental reach than female-targeted campaigns.

“Brands and their agencies need to think about the cleverest ways to leverage technology and harness smart data to ensure campaigns are delivered efficiently and effectively,” she adds.

Brands also need to think carefully about how they reach and resonate with women in a meaningful way—it’s not a one-size fit all approach. It’s easy to get swept up in thinking that digital is the panacea, but women aren’t just one, monolithic demographic.


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In the U.S. alone, women make up just over half of the population, and they’re accountable for over $39 trillion dollars. That puts them in charge of 30% of the world’s wealth, and that number is growing.

“The brands that will succeed in targeting will sidestep marketing tactics that draw on stereotypes and make smart use of data. Those who fail to do so risk losing out on the economic powerhouse that is female spending,” she maintains.