On My Nightstand: Marketing to Women, by Marti Barletta

Well, it took me long enough. I’d been meaning to pick up Marti Barletta’s seminal book on marketing to females for a while. But when I got the opportunity to meet with her recently, she gave me a copy. What a gift! It’s loaded with actionable information and descriptive case studies.

Consider the facts:
Women make up 51 percent of the population. And 86 percent of women are either the main decision makers (32 percent) or joint decision makers (54 percent) of household financial matters. Women make 80% of all consumer buying decisions and 53% of all investment decisions. Over 60% of all new car purchases.

So I wonder: why is it that the market place is still so male-centric?

Here’s my assessment:
Is it because the cultural underpinnings of how we market to women demand that we maintain a certain organizing mythology? Consider the princess mythology. The recent royal wedding was the penultimate expression of this myth.

In contrast to the mythology is Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, which brilliantly subverts the prevailing fashion industry concept of feminine beauty, presenting it as something that is not only fake but corrosive to the self-esteem of young girls. This multi-award-winning campaign has parent company Unilever backing away from its basic premise. If it wants to sell products to women, it’s got to prop up certain cultural dynamics that keep women feeling insecure in ways that make them want to buy things to fix the problem.

In the long run, brands that want to truly win with women need to partner with men and women to establish a new premise. This opens broad frontiers for cultural brands willing to seed the culture to adopt new values. Based on Barletta’s extensive research, it’s a task worth undertaking because the upside is a gold mine.

If you’ve been late to the party like me, and have not read it yet, do. I encourage you to pick up Marketing to Women. It’s an important book.