Female Power And The Growing Influence of Branding for Women
Women and the female influence have always been essential factors within most successful branding strategies. It’s only more recently though, because of the growing influence of women in the marketplace and the number of women in leadership roles and decision-maker positions, that companies have begun to address more effectively their communications with the female market.
The fact is, women have an incredible amount of influence in business and branding strategies, whether it’s in the purchase decisions, the creation of brand strategies, or the overall leadership and direction of a company. In this article, we’re taking a closer look at how women have been, and continue to be, incredibly vital to the success of brands so you can re-evaluate your brand strategy and address any potential shortfalls fast.
Branding for Women as Consumers
There is no other group of consumers with as much influence as the global female market. Not only that, this market is continually growing in size and buying power so let’s review the global strength of women as consumers.
Women and Purchasing Decisions
According to Dhanusha Sivajee, the EVP of Editorial and Marketing at XO Group Inc., women drive 70%-80% of all consumer purchases. On top of this, women will spend upwards of 18 trillion dollars in the next year globally. There is no denying the unequivocal purchasing power that women have all around the world. The question is, are you harnessing this buying power to increase your bottom line?
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Why do women have all of this purchasing power? Well, it’s likely due to their integrated role in family life. Women are often the ones choosing their family’s preferred brands of choice online and off, whether its groceries, clothing or electronics goods and beyond. Not only that, they often help their parents (and spouses’ parents) make purchasing decisions as well. Even single women are more likely to help family members and friends research and make purchasing decisions. They like to research and evaluate multiple options before they buy, and consequently, are usually the most informed when making a purchase.
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In addition to these more well established purchasing domains women are increasingly broadening their purchasing reach. Traditionally, women have always had incredible purchasing power in the home domain, but often deferred some choices to their husbands or fathers. However, with their growing roles in both the home and as strong income earners, women now purchase over 50% of traditional ‘male’ products, including automobiles, home improvement products and consumer electronics. Women account for 65% of new car purchase decisions and make 90% of household healthcare decisions.
Given all this money and influential female purchasing capacity it’s understandable then that your branding strategy for women really needs to hit the mark effectively so you can benefit from the massive buying power this increasingly powerful purchaser has. We know that sometimes it’s a struggle to build a brand strategy that really engages your ideal customers effectively so we’ve developed three different ways of working with us to help you build your brand and increase your sales, depending on your preferences, so if you’d like us to:
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Branding for Women and Marketing to Them
It’s not unusual to see many companies get it entirely wrong when it comes to building their brand strategy, marketing campaigns, advertising and even product designs for women. Let’s be absolutely clear, adding the colour ‘pink’ to your offering does not a brand strategy, product design or marketing campaign make. I’d even go as far as saying that overly simplistic approach is a tad insulting to put it mildly!
This sentiment is also evident in the recent widespread rejection of the ‘pink-tax’. It is more common than not to see women buying male-marketed products in the personal hygiene or beauty sector, including razors, deodorant, clothing, etc. because the actual product is the same as the ‘female version’ except for the colour and price point — typically lower than the female marketed equivalent. It’s obvious that marketers need to move away from gendering these commodities, and instead, craft more sophisticated branding strategies that actually resonate with this highly-empowered and well-informed female audience.
A company that has addressed it’s female audience intelligently and without pretence is Billie. This new razor company is capitalizing on the success of companies like the Dollar Shave Club, but are approaching it from an unapologetically feminist angle. Designed by women for women, these razors are everything the pink-tax is not. Check out their widely successful, provocative advert, which has already garnered 1.1 million views.
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Globally, we are seeing a surge of brands with empowering branding messages and socially conscious branding that are obviously striking a chord with the global female market. In India, a laundry detergent created a beautiful advert that portrays a father witnessing his overworked daughter coming home from work to clean, cook and pick up after her family while her husband sits on the couch watching sports.
The father figure reflects on the example that he set himself, and voices-over an ‘apology’ letter to his daughter. The advert was not only successful in India, but it went viral in 22 different countries and in 16 different languages.  The company generated an increase of 42% in unaided brand awareness and $12.3 million in earned media coverage.  The advert won several international awards and is still receiving new views every day. This campaign has resonated so deeply because it’s built on a real truth — that sadly isn’t changing fast enough.
Branding for Women and Female Influencers
Beyond traditional means of advertising (print and media), women dominate the influencer marketing space and account for 83.9% of all advert posts in 2017. Typically, these female influencers tend to attract an audience of mostly women, making these influencer channels ideal for brands to use in harnessing that female purchasing power.
An example of a brand that has undeniably tapped into the influencer market and created messaging that harnessed female power and sexuality is Calvin Klein with their widely successful #mycalvins campaign.
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They featured prominent Millennial influencers like Bella Hadid, Trey Songz, and the Kardashian-Jenner club. The idea behind the movement is showing famous people doing seemingly normal things while rocking their Calvins. The adverts are undeniably sexy and tap into an empowering show of masculinity and femininity in an artistic way that hasn’t been done as successfully by any other brand recently.
The #MyCalvins campaign has been running for four plus years, but no other year was more successful than the year that they used Justin Beiber and Lara Stone. This campaign directly contributed an extra 3.6 million followers for the brand. An incredible show of the success that can be achieved when you market to and for women.
Branding for Women as Decision-Makers
Beyond the domain of their personal lives, women are also influencing the direction of branding strategies around the globe in their work related capacities. Here we’re taking a look at how women are increasingly taking on leadership roles and so becoming the decision-makers in their professional lives and communities.
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Branding for Women in the Workforce
In truth it’s not enough to tokenly consider the female factor in your brand strategy. If you really want success with a brand strategy that deeply resonates then its incredibly important to consult and co-create with female input from the top-down and bottom-up.
It might be stating the obvious, but the current grass roots trend in the market, some of which has been influenced by the #metoo factor, really can’t be ignored — at your peril — even if your product or service offering isn’t directly built for women. The simple fact is, women have growing influence and buying power professionally and personally so they need to be included in the creation and implementation of your brand strategy, if you want to be truly successful.
There are now more women in the workforce than ever before. And not only that, an increasing number of them are now in decision-making positions. Women now make up 40% of new directors on Fortune 100 boards. In fact, in Australia, research shows that more than half (52%) of women now say they’re the main breadwinner (up from 39% in 2006).
Not only are women moving up in their respective companies, but they are also becoming wealthier as a whole. 40% of households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family. And on top of that, the number of women investors is growing at a faster rate than that of men.
While on this surface, this can seem like a big win in the drive towards gender equality, the truth is there is still a huge disparity in female representation and leadership in the business world. A recent study by the University of Notre Dame and Northwestern University found that 75% of successful high-ranking women maintained strong, female-dominated inner circles. The support from these strong female led inner circles has evidenced that women who are collectively supported by other strong female leadership are two and a half times more likely to achieve higher-ranking roles compared to those who don’t or are only in mixed-gender or male dominated networks. On the other hand, men are not affected by these same conditions.
Women are increasingly moving into decision-making positions, but until we see equal representation in the workplace, politics and across society in general we will still see huge marketing missteps like the ‘pink-tax’ or advertising fails frequently evidenced like those in the beer and motor industries.
Are you a business leader, manager or entrepreneur who wants to re-evaluate your brand strategy so you can effectively build your branding for women — make your brand more inclusive without the ‘pink’ trap factor? Are you curious about how to build or scale a highly successful standout brand? Join one of our branding workshops because they empower you to build your brand, enhance customer experience, expand your market impact and create higher perceived value so you can command a premium.
In fact, the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind is all about fast-tracking you, your brand and your business through the brand building, brand strategy process using big-brand know-how with proven systems that get results so you can grow your business faster and more effectively.
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Branding for Women in B2B Marketing
There are many women leading the charge in B2B branding. As more women become decision-makers in companies, B2B branding strategies and marketing will have to continue to evolve to include this sector more intelligently — if it’s to be successful.
One of the more recent and most symbolic examples of B2B Marketing that harnesses female power is The Fearless Girl, by State Street. Everyone has seen the beautiful image of the strong little girl staring down the bull statue on Wall Street. The message in their commercial was clear: Companies with women in leadership do better than companies without. The advertising campaign reportedly generated over $7.5 million in free marketing, and took home 4 grand prix awards at Cannes (with a total of 18 Cannes Lions wins total).
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As women’s roles in business continue to grow, B2B branding strategies will surely need to include more input from and messaging for women. Another great example of B2B branding that was created by a team of women, with women in mind, is the recent Cisco marketing campaign. It aims to portray strong depictions of women in a male-dominated network-infrastructure business. The CMO for Cisco, Karen Walker, headed up this initiative and was inspired by a study from Unilever that showed only 3% of commercials portray women in leadership positions. Cisco counteracted this statistic with their video “The Network’s Sixth Sense”.
Branding for Women in Leadership
There is still so much room to grow. Many strong and powerful women are leading the charge to a better tomorrow, where companies are run by and for women in positions of power. And just in case you’re a nervous male reader, this isn’t about ‘burning the bra’ and women taking over the world! It’s about closing the gender gap so we have a better more balanced world with a future.
Females in Leadership
There are now more females in leadership roles than ever — but still not enough for real gender balance. Although not exactly gender-equality, 38.3% of all board positions in the Fortune 500 belong to women. This is undoubtedly, a record number. On a global scale, women are slowly gaining representation among Executive Committees (ECs) in Fortune Global 100 companies, but are still in the minority. In 2017, women accounted for 22% of EC roles in the Americas and only 15% in Europe.
Companies and governments are starting to realise the importance of having more women in meaningful leadership positions. The US might currently have its highest representation of women in political leadership history but its still only 20% of the overall male dominance.
Assuredly we’d probably have less political strife, divisiveness and war if more women were in political leadership. Countries like Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, the Netherlands, and Norway all have quotas for women on boards of public companies now.
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The simple fact of the matter is, having women in leadership positions is better for business, society at large and global stability. The Peterson Institute for International Economics completed a survey of 21,980 firms from 91 different countries and found that having women at the C-Suite level significantly increases net margins. Not only that, but companies with women in leadership positions are overall more innovative, usually producing 20% more patents than companies with all-male boards.
Branding for Women in Female-Led Companies
Call it what you will, the time of the ‘Girl Boss’ is here. In the US alone, more than 11.6 million firms are owned by women, employing nearly 9 million people, and generating $1.7 trillion in sales (as of 2017).  On top of that, the number of businesses owned by women increased 20% during a recent five-year period, while the revenues produced by those firms jumped 15 percent.
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Women are taking on what might appear at times as insurmountable challenges and doing big things, in short, tackling some very impressive obstacles. For example, 2 out of the 3 founders of 23andMe are female. They wanted to fix what they saw as a bottleneck in healthcare, which is minimal knowledge about predisposition to diseases.
Another female-run company success story is Lynda.com, which hosts over 6,000 online courses to help people increase their skills in photography, business, marketing, animation and much more — for a reasonable price. Lynda sold the company herself and pocked $1.5 billion in the process. These women are helping make a difference worldwide and being properly rewarded while doing it.
While the age of the “She-O” has been shaped by famous women like Sheryl Sandberg, Tory Burch, and Sarah Blakely (the CEO of Spanx), these success stories are not always reality for every woman in a leadership role.
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What is talked about less often are the silent CEO’s — the women who turn to entrepreneurship out of necessity. Many women are creating their own businesses to escape the often-unsustainable demands of corporate life.
It is well-documented that women perform more unpaid labour than men. Add in a 40-50 hour a week corporate job on top of (more often than not) the weekly primary carer work-load and it’s enough to drive any person to exhaustion. While it may seem like a good thing that more and more women are creating their own businesses and escaping the corporate grind, it is not always as such. It’s not unusual to find that, women who own their own businesses have a hard time replacing their corporate salaries and end up having less benefits (like quality healthcare) for themselves and their families.
Thankfully, the process is not cyclical. At least in the US, unlike the EU, where health insurance and maternity leave are not always mandatory, 85% of businesses owned by women provide their employees with healthcare, compared to the national average of 45% of the total number of companies that offer health insurance.
Not to mention, women are better bosses overall. In a study conducted in the UK with over 3,000 managers, women out-performed men in four of the five categories studied: initiative and clear communication; openness and ability to innovate; sociability and supportiveness; and methodical management and goal-setting.  Overall, women are more supportive and open bosses. Even though many women are reaching to entrepreneurship out of necessity, they are breaking some of the cycles that led them to it in the first place.
If you’d like to discover more about building and maintaining a thriving, high performing, highly profitable standout brand, then get in touch because we’d love to help you make your brand into a profit powerhouse.
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Lorraine Carter is a professional speaker delivering talks that inspire and motivate along with masterclasses and workshops that inform and support transformational outcomes fast, and consultancy solutions that solve problems so you can outshine, outperform and leave your competitors way behind.
All in all, we have a lot of work to do as business leaders, brand owners, managers and builders — not to mention all the other important walks of life. While it is undeniable the influence that women have as consumers, this same influence is not seen proportionately in the companies that are marketing to and employing women. If your company does not have women proportionally in leadership roles there is inequality and you’re also commercially vulnerable long term — as evidence by all the research.
If you are not consulting groups of women about your products or services and asking them how they can be better, you are doing yourself a disservice. If you are not empowering or putting policies in place that provide better working conditions for ALL of your employees, then there is inequity. Women are only going to continue to grow in influence and power — if companies are not harnessing this female power (and nurturing it) then they’ll be left behind long-term.
Questions to Consider
- What is your company doing to encourage and support more women in leadership roles and in the development of your brand strategy?
- When did you last re-evaluate your branding for woman across all your products and services? Would a brand audit health check be in order?
- What is your company doing to create better working environments so women are encouraged to develop and grow your business successfully — and so most importantly, you don’t lose top talent, invaluable experience and expertise?
- Have you really consulted the women in your company about your 2019 branding strategy and marketing plans?
- What are some ways that you can incorporate more women and ideas from women into your branding strategies?
- Does your company proactively support gender equality in leadership, brand strategy development and pay structure?
- Having considered some of the takeaways in this article, do you think your brand is well positioned with a strong brand strategy in the context of everything discussed or would a brand refresh enable you to build a much stronger and more profitable offering?
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