Ah yes, the tricky and nuanced world of getting your gender segment strategy right. You can’t pinkify your product and you certainly can’t put your faith in a collaboration with a publishing house thinking it will solve your marketing problems for you like SEAT did with Cosmopolitan recently in the UK.
Imagine if Toyota took their “man-sized” cars to GQ or Men’s Health to solve the sales decline or to stir interest in a brand that’s lacking? What might we expect if they used the same thought process? An extra thick, beefy grill with muscle-effect? A pinstripe absorbent fabric for man-sweat? Colours that coordinate with your footy club? A drivers seat that reclines slowly so making-out opportunities seem more romantic?
Women buy more new cars than ever before, and influence 80% of new car purchases but it is not quite as easy to garner their interest, and get on the shopping list, as automotive company Seat might have hoped. Marketing products to humans (of either gender) is always going to be a science and not, as many have suggested “a sensitivity”.
Come on! It’s just not that easy… women are more complex than this and although they want and need features in equal and different ways to men, a shrink it and pink it solution should set off the warning alarm immediately.
Here’s the thing for car manufacturers and any business looking to understand what features women are really looking for. Invest the same amount of time, effort, research, money, designers, departmental focus and organizational rigour or c-suite clout that sends a message about how serious you are for your car segments aimed at “womens” markets as you use to engineer your “mens” segments.
Sadly what this collaboration attempt displayed for both brands is their incredible lack of empathy for the real issues, desires and beliefs of their respective female audiences. And whilst neuroscience can prove that certain colors hit female and male receptors in different ways the “two fashion colours” for women to choose from strategy is a very “lite” insight and certainly not a reason-to-believe.
It’s not so surprising for a car company who has a long history of being “male-lensed” as they attempt to refocus to women, but for Cosmo? Maybe it shows that in reality women’s mags have not evolved from cynical pedlars of the same tired old stories year in year out: how to lose weight, how to get your man, how to be great in bed etc and their stereotypes are only serving to perpetuate some really false perceptions about appealing to women who over index in the majority of most consumer decisions.
Ultimately the market will decide and all female car and magazine buyers will vote with their dollars. Those getting it right will still be here in ten years, because collectively women’s economic value can make or break brands.
Women, make sure you spend your money with the businesses who are really looking after your needs and deserving of your hard-earned.