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Buy this Book More Executive Book Reviews

by Marti Barletta

Dearborn Trade Publishing © 2006, 325 pages, $23.00 (ISBN 1-4195-2019-9).

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How to Increase Your Share of the World’s Largest Market

Marketing expert Marti Barletta points out that women are the largest untapped market in the world. In the second edition of her book Marketing to Women, she uses real-life examples from numerous industries to show why small and large businesses should be spending real money on and giving undivided attention to this group of consumers. Along with the insights that made the first edition of her book an invaluable resource for marketers, this new version includes many updates as well as a new chapter that addresses the rapidly growing group of women between the ages of 50 and 70.

Women and Their Money

Marketing to Women begins with a section that explains why marketers need to focus on women. Filled with eye-opening statistics that demonstrate the value of marketing products and services to this giant sector, this part of Barletta’s book describes what women are earning, how women are becoming more affluent, and how much money they are spending for their households and the companies for which they work. For example, as of 2002, 31 percent of women outearned their husbands, which is up from 25 percent in 1997. In addition, women control 51.3 percent of the private wealth in the United States. They also constitute 47 percent of individuals with assets over $500,000.

These women with money move in ways that are different than the ways of men. Barletta ventures into the important differences in women’s biology and psychology that impact marketing. She then maps out a marketing model that addresses those differences and capitalizes on why and how women make different brand purchase decisions than men. With a variety of visual models, she describes the many influences on a woman’s buying habits.

When demonstrating the marketing elements that surround a woman’s purchase decisions, Barletta explains that women respond differently than men do to every one of the dozen elements that make up the marketing mix, such as customer care, word of mouth, advertising and promotion. She adds that by becoming savvy about what the female consumer is looking for and appreciating what she does and does not value, marketing elements can have a greater impact and be made more compelling than what competitors are offering.

Barletta writes that companies must reassess their marketing efforts to reflect changing demographics. Although men historically have been the ones to purchase big-ticket items such as cars and computers, women are now the majority buyers in both of these categories. She points out that new analysis of most markets will reveal the need for marketing approaches that address the mindsets of both genders. By appealing to the functional mindset women have when they buy these items in a way that is different from the “fun” mindset in which men make these purchase decisions, Barletta explains how companies can create more successful marketing approaches.

Home Improvement

The home improvement industry, for example, has profited from the new reality of single women owning almost twice as many homes as men. Hence, it is no wonder that Lowe’s and Home Depot report that half of their customers are women. Barletta notes that Lowe’s uses insights into the buying behavior of women by designing its stores with women in mind. From brighter lights to wider aisles to more stylish plumbing fixtures, Lowe’s has worked to become a destination for women. Likewise, The Home Depot’s Do-It-Herself Workshops attracted 40,000 women in its first 6 months. Executives at both companies acknowledge stronger than projected results and give some of the credit to their ongoing efforts to market to women.

Barletta also presents numerous examples of nuances that can mean the difference between attracting and repelling female customers. When explaining how “warmer” approaches are more effective with women than “winner” approaches, she follows up with ways companies can use this knowledge to their advantage. She writes, “Remember that autonomy and winning don’t have the same pull for women as for men.” She adds that although helping someone else is not usually mission critical for men, it is a huge plus for women because it makes them feel useful, appreciated and powerful. For example, when one insurance provider chose to create a life insurance ad that said it isn’t for the people who die, it’s for the people who live, Barletta points out that the firm chose to appeal to a very female frame of reference. ~

Why We Like This Book

Barletta illuminates the field of marketing to women with a timely guide that does more than point out differences — it also shows how many companies and marketers were able to turn the latest statistics into profitable strategies that embrace those differences. By treating female customers in ways that embrace their differences and using research data in the thoughtful ways Barletta reveals, companies can improve how they tap into the power of the purse. ~

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