May 13

Buying is feminine: Italian companies don’t seem to realize this

On 9th April CERMES - Research Centre of Marketing and Services at Bocconi University has organized an event entitled "Women who fight the crisis", during which the research "The new ethics of female consumption in times of recession" has been presented and discussed.

In an economic environment that shows no sign of improvement, women bear the most important sacrifices and make use of resources and strategies, but maybe the most significant finding of the research concerns the role of women as decision-makers or influencers in the purchase process involving industries that are "traditionally considered":

  • as female markets (household goods, food, cosmetics), where women decide or influence decisions in over 94% of purchases;
  • as male markets (automobile, banking, insurance, utilities), in which women decide or influence decisions in more than 65% of purchases.

Although women represent an important target, they feel that their needs are not at all satisfied by companies that operate in traditionally male industries - satisfaction is lower than 15%.

The most important reason for dissatisfaction concerns the use of a too technical and complex language, followed by the fact that women are often treated condescendingly or are scarcely considered at the time of sale.

Apparently, all marketing directors and all companies are aware of this, but something in the transition from awareness to strategy and therefore to action is not working.

The topic - although widely studied overseas - is in fact little known and all of us are unaware of many stereotypes that still guide marketing strategies, from the design of products / services to the sales process and, finally, to communication.

Women should be treated as any new market segment: if your company decided to launch its new product in a foreign market, would your marketing strategy be the exact copy of the one adopted in the domestic market or would you adopt a step-by-step approach, in order to understand new consumer’s needs, interpreting his tastes and expectations?

Would you invest in a market research aimed at knowing the new consumer, would you test the product, would you train the sales staff and would you adapt communication codes?

Attracting and retaining a female customer requires some additional investments, compared to the idea of "painting everything pink" (guess what, many women hate pink!), but the return justifies investments. In fact, women are:

  • more loyal customers over time and unwilling to "betray the brand";
  • able to strongly influence their relationship network (word of mouth).

We launch the challenge to all of you, across sectors: companies that first find the keys to enter the new ethics of female consumption, that use the most suitable tone of voice to reduce the distance that separates them from the female target, will conquer the market: those that control and affect about 80% of domestic purchases.

Are you ready to take up the challenge?