Editors Note: March is Women’s History Month, an annual celebration of the highlights and contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.
When I was a kid, all of my friends’ parents were married and few of their mothers had jobs outside the home. After my family moved to California, a place where many divorced moms had moved to start new lives, I had an up close look at mid-1970’s shifting gender roles.
Fast-forward to 2015 — while pay gaps still loom larger than they should, (in 1970, women were paid $0.59 for every dollar men made – it’s now $0.77), the expectations for men and women have changed dramatically. (Business Insider)
It might seem as if men and women should be, therefore, marketed to in the same ways. After all, 41% of women are primary breadwinners and 23% are co-breadwinners. (Business Insider) And 70% of women with children age 18 and under participate in the U.S. labor force. (BLS.gov) But these labor force changes, especially among moms, continue to affect men and women differently.
In the past few years, I’ve spent hundreds of hours conducting in-depth interview research for products targeted mostly to women with kids. I’ve bonded over clothes, ways to keep families healthy, beauty and budgets and body image. For many women, traditional roles of health provider, family budgeter, and nurturer still hold, but with a twist.
This means businesses need to get it right: 85 percent of moms surveyed refer to their role in the household as CEO or CFO, purchasing everything from cars to banking services or computers. (Girlpower Marketing) Here are some recommendations based upon my research.
Decide whether your product or service is ‘ours’ or ‘mine’.
Women with families prioritize money and time as it benefits the family as a whole first, with themselves second. But these just-for-me items are then protected fiercely. When focusing here, make sure your product is worth the fight needed to carve out time and money and keep it from the rest of the family’s grasp.
Products and services that help maintain self-image around being an adult, competent, attractive, healthy woman rise to the top. You should market your product so it’s seen as easy, perhaps serving more than one purpose, and that its value is worth the money, which is not necessarily the same as inexpensive.
Combine reality with a touch of aspirational beauty.
Plus-size model Tess Holiday was recently signed by a top UK agency, MiLK Model Management, the first happening of its kind. Fashion is catching up to the struggle women have with the gap between what they see on models and what they see in the mirror.
Women want to see images that reflect their lives, only better. They do buy products and services that show something to aspire to, but the bigger the gap, the more disillusioned they become, undermining their self-image and making them close their purses to some brands.
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