As brands increasingly recognize the value of engaging female consumers, the amount of advice on the topic has also increased accordingly. Blogs, conferences, networks and the Twittersphere are rich places to tap for expert opinions and research. Many great books have been written on the topic - as you can see in the links to the left. Adding to that conversation in a way that also brings a fresh perspective can be a challenge. Kelley Murray Skoloda has accomplished that with her book, Too Busy To Shop. Published earlier this year (yes, I'm late but I was busy - lots of life change!), Skoloda builds on the insights illuminated by Marti Barletta, Andrea Learned and others around the way women shop and gather information (holistic vs. tunnel vision, researching to make a good choice, wise to being talked down to, all about customer service) and includes case studies and observations that acknowledge the reality of our changing technology and communication landscape, which allows women to research and spread information even faster, while relying on their local networks more than ever.
Some of my favorite insights include:
Priorities trump balance. "Rather than balancing it all, moms are actively pursuing ways to honor what has become a driving priority - time with their children, especially when they're young." Skoloda calls these women "mindful" and "choosy." Multfunctional products that save time are on their radar screen. One great magazine instead of five. Yoga clothes that can be worn as casual wear. Multi-function household cleaners.
Reach women where they are. "...remember they are not 'national' beings. They live in a particular town, city or market." Skoloda goes on to reference the power of local moms' and women's group leaders in influencing their peer groups. Most brands still think national will trickle down when grassroots movements in markets must be built from the ground up. Think Candidate Obama. One national message of hope, but it was the local groups who understood their own demographics and market and made "hope" relevant to their communities.
Before women shop, they CROP. "This is an important new trend: women seek CRedible, OPinions while researching potential purchases. As such, it is an essential shortcut to purchase." These opinion leaders include friends and family, media and other influentials. Social media makes accessing and sharing these opinions faster with exponential reach. The influencers for each brand and audience will be different but its well worth the time to identify and engage them.
Smart, thoughtful and a fast read, Skoloda took her own multi-minding message to heart when writing Too Busy To Shop. Take it on a plane like I did - you've seen all the Virgin Red movies, and if you haven't, catch them on Netflix - and come back with some smart ideas for getting your brand into the homes and hearts of female consumers instead.