What You Don’t Know About Marketing to Women

Don’t you hate it when you think you know something — and you don’t?

That’s what happened to me when I decided to skim “Why She Buys,” by Bridget Brennan, Crown Business, 2009. I’m a woman, a marketer, and a business owner. So, I should know why women buy, right?

Woman car buyer


I have learned so much from this book. It offers terrific information, and many real-life examples. I have referred to it over and over again (and it just came out in July!).

In addition to explaining how to market to women, the book discusses the five global trends driving female consumers, how to create products with a female focus, the fundamentals of selling to women, and more.

One of my favorite parts was how to market to women. Here are some key points:

1. Women are females first and consumers second. So, to market to the female consumer, you need to understand gender differences.

2. The female economy is enormous. Here are some statistics:

  • 80% of apparel purchases (for men, women and children) are made by women
  • 52% of all new vehicle purchases are made by women (and 85% are influenced by women)
  • 40% of consumer electronics purchases are made by women (and 61% of purchases are influenced by women)
  • 70% of health care decisions are made by women
  • 70% of travel decisions are made by women
  • 90% of women participate in decisions that affect their household retirement and investment accounts
  • 20% of home purchases are made by single women (and 91% of all purchases are influenced by women)
  • 55% of all wine purchases are made by women

Understanding Gender Differences

Brennan offers five gender differences that affect how to market to women.

1. Women and men define achievement in different ways. Men strive to be independent; women strive to be indispensable.

  • Men think help is a four-letter word; women love to ask for and get help.
  • Men compete with others; women compete with themselves.

2. Women connect with each other by talking about their feelings and revealing their vulnerabilities. Men connect with each other by engaging in activities and hiding their vulnerabilities.

  • Women talk about feelings and like to give and receive compliments.
  • Being a shrewd buyer is a form of status for women.

3. Women have a higher verbal fluency than men. They focus on the details and will talk about their love of a product or service to their friends.

  • Men are more interested in how things work; women are more interested in what something will do for them.
  • Women respond to stories more than they do to just product information.

4. Women have better memories for the details of both pleasant and unpleasant experiences.

5. Women avoid conflict situations; men avoid emotional scenes.

Applying This Information for Marketing to Women

When you take all of this information into account, here is what you can do to be more successful in your marketing efforts towards women:

  • Highlight great service, and provide human help (a real person, not a recording)
  • Leverage your female customers; they love to tell others if they have found or experienced something great. Include them in testimonials, loyalty and referral programs
  • Display empathy
  • Validate that you are offering a good deal
  • Demonstrate appreciation, with frequent thanks
  • Lead with the practical benefits, not how something works
  • Use stories in your marketing
  • Leverage third-party endorsements and testimonials
  • Sweat the details
  • Ask for feedback
  • Avoid violent images and language when selling to women
  • Emphasize positive qualities without being overly negative about your competitors

If women are included in your target market, consider using these techniques. Your marketing will be more successful, and your sales will increase.

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Margie Zable FisherAbout the Author: Margie Zable Fisher is the President of Zable Fisher Public Relations, a small business public relations firm, and is the publisher of Women Business Owners Digest (www.wbodigest.com). She offers free award-winning Public Relations tips at www.zfpr.com.


Margie Zable Fisher Margie Zable Fisher is the President of Zable Fisher Public Relations, helping small businesses connect with clients and potential clients online and offline through Public Relations, Social Media and Marketing. She offers free, award-winning tips at Zable Fisher Public Relations.

10 Reactions
  1. Margie Zable Fisher,

    Do you know if someone has written a book with the title, “Why He Buys”? 😉 Do you know where Bridget Brennan has gathered all the statistics and data?

  2. Interesting Statistics. Both genders do have a different mentality when it comes to marketing and shopping. Understanding the differences can help to better target your market.

  3. Every now and then you realize just how little you know about the opposite gender. Reading this was one of those moments for me. Now I need to do some serious reevaluation (but thank you).

  4. So true! I know between my husband and I, we have very different perspectives on buying. I’m more of a planner and a researcher where as my husband is more impulsive. I think women consider the consequences of spending more than a man does. Thank you for reminding us of our differences, you really should know all you can about your target audience.

  5. The #1 complaint women have is that male salesmen are “pushy”.
    Men expect a mix of fact and opinion when talking to guys and we automatically have a “bs shield” for filtering conversations with other guys. In my experience selling technology to women, they are most comfortable when a salesman clearly separates facts from opinions when talking to them into separate sentences.
    e.g. Male to male:. “This product has feature x and our implementation of it is the best in the market.”.
    Male to women: “This product has feature x which does these things. In my opinion, our implementation of this feature is the best on the market”.