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Warby Parker – Winning Marketing Strategies That Also Resonate With Women

January 16th, 2015 by Linda Landers

Neil-Blumenthal_47256When eyeglasses company Warby Parker launched in 2010, its founders had no real traditional marketing plan, but had invested their life savings in three main areas: their product, their website and a public relations program.

According to co-founder and CEO Neil Blumenthal, they knew that you only have one shot to launch a fashion brand, and set their sights on Vogue and GQ magazines where they wanted the company’s name to debut.  The PR team placed Warby Parker in the February issues that year, and the result was better than anyone could have expected. Since then, their press-triggered sales spikes have turned into sustained growth, with more than 50 percent of Warby Parker’s sales driven by word-of-mouth and peer recommendations.

“Everybody’s looking for that tidbit to talk about at the dinner table,” he explains.  “For us it was our $95 price point, innovative home try-on model, and our buy a pair, give a pair program.”

For every pair sold, Warby Parker donates a new pair to VisionSpring (visionspring.org), a nonprofit that trains low-income women in developing countries to sell affordable glasses in their communities.

Today, consumers want their brands to matter more; they’ll support the brands that align to their values and are meaningful to them. This give-back mentality really resonates with people, particularly women.

In an interview included in 99U’s new book, Make Your Mark, Blumenthal also revealed three branding tips that have helped make Warby Parker an authentic lifestyle brand that treats customers the way they want to be treated. As you’ve read in previous blog posts, these tips are especially important when marketing to women, and well worth remembering:

1. Don’t Fake It

“People have extremely sensitive BS detectors these days,” Blumenthal says. “They sense a brand’s authenticity — or fakeness — immediately.”  To gain the consumer’s trust, Warby Parker has made transparency and honesty key components of its customer relations, especially when it comes to owning up to a mistake before it becomes a bigger issue.

2. Don’t Forget the Little Things

Being honest and accepting responsibility is just the beginning in starting an authentic relationship with customers. Brands should also be proactive about making customers feel their needs are being met. “For us, that might be offering a discount, it might be offering free glasses, it might be doing whatever it takes to get that person a pair of glasses before they go on vacation,” Blumenthal says. “It’s the little things that make a brand great.”

3. Don’t Be a Control Freak

According to Blumenthal, a brand is no longer a strict messaging hierarchy. With the social Web, a brand’s messaging is constantly changing and consumers are helping shape it every day. “Your brand is part of conversations that are being held in the streets, on Twitter, and on Instagram,” he says. “And the best that you can do is help influence that dialogue by giving people reasons to talk positively about it. These days, community managers are your brand managers.”

Does your brand have a well thought-out strategy for reaching your target consumer that addresses what is most important to them?

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Marketing to Women: Trends to Watch in 2015

January 2nd, 2015 by Linda Landers

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I believe that most brand and marketing managers understand  the economic importance of women, and recognize that they influence 85 percent of all household purchase decisions. I also believe that 2015 will bring a surge of renewed interest in the subject of marketing to women. Going forward in this blog we’ll discuss recent trends, the differences in female market segments, and why women’s influence over purchase decision-making will continue to grow.

In the meantime, Bridget Brennan, author of Why She Buys, has written an article for Forbes.com about 2015 trends in marketing to women. Her insights are so spot-on that I’ve reprinted the entire article below. 

2014 was a watershed year in marketing to women. We witnessed female-empowerment advertising campaigns from brands like Pantene (Not Sorry), Under Armour (I Will What I Want) and Always (Like a Girl); we saw a sweeping effort to update women’s images in stock photography with the Lean In Getty Images Collection; and we witnessed a GoldieBlox Super Bowl commercial. Not bad, 2014, not bad.

It’s exciting stuff. And yet the conversation, hard work, and opportunity have just begun. I predict 2015 will be the year that marketers move beyond signaling to women, “We know you’re important, empowered and strong,” to a broader, holistic approach to women consumers that impacts every aspect of the business with the following types of initiatives:

1. Optimizing the customer experience for women consumers.

From conducting sales training initiatives focused on “E.Q.”-style communication techniques, to enhancing the ambiance of retail environments and refining the editorial voice of websites, there’s room to optimize the experience for women consumers no matter what your business. After all, women don’t just compare your company to your competitors: they compare it to their favorite best-in-class retailers and ecommerce sites. And depending on what you sell, they may even compare your website and videos to their favorite magazines and television shows. That’s why forward-looking companies will invest in women’s insights research and look outside their own industries to benchmark themselves against best-in-class, female favorites like Anthropologie, IKEA and Amazon.com.

2. Creating retail innovations based on women’s cultural preferences.

Take product samples. They’re gold. Women know this. Their medicine cabinets and bathroom drawers are stuffed with this precious loot, which is usually obtained free of charge when they check out at beauty counters or attend parties with excellent goodie bags. Enter Birchbox, the successful ecommerce company built on the understanding that women would be willing to pay to receive product samples. The business features a subscription model in which women pay to be surprised and delighted by a box of beauty product samples every month. Men are in on the action too, through Birchbox Man, which was introduced after the initial success of the subscription service for women.

Then there’s Stitch Fix: an online women’s fashion retailer that offers personal styling services at a mass-market price point. The service fulfills a common fantasy of having a “stylist,” a phenomenon driven by celebrity fashion coverage and the emergence of stylists who have become celebrities in their own right. (See: Rachel Zoe). This is just the beginning of a new wave of retail businesses built around powerful female insights. Watch this space: there’s more to come in 2015.

3. Making selfies as natural to shopping as the cart.

We used to say that a picture is worth a thousand words. That was before Instagram. Now a picture is worth so much more. The irresistible allure of selfies fuels contests, sweepstakes and promotions of every conceivable kind, and will increasingly drive image-based search as well as function as a research tool for brands. Photos and visuals of all varieties will become even more prominent in the marketing toolbox in 2015, particularly for businesses with a large base of female buyers. Women have long been the photo album makers, scrapbook keepers and memory/milestone custodians for their households in the offline world, and in the past decade this behavior has shifted online.

So whether we’re talking about traditional retailers like Target mobilizing customers to take selfies in-store for sweepstakes prizes, or brands like American Express leveraging customer influencers for a campaign that drove 10 million Instagram impressions in just two weeks, the creativity in the visual web has just begun.

4. Catering to women consumers as a way to stay one step ahead of Millennials.

Many values that historically have been associated with women now apply to Millennials of both genders. Generally speaking, Millennials want what women consumers have always wanted from manufacturers and retailers. A partial list includes:

  • A high design aesthetic (in addition to functionality)
  • Brands/products that make the world a better place in some small way
  • Family-friendly amenities and service options
  • Great value
  • An engaging retail environment

Trader Joe’s, Starbucks, and Apple are just a few examples of brands beloved by women and Millennials (of both genders), because they provide high value products in inspiring environments. As Millennials grow into their prime earning years, brands will find that women provide a valuable roadmap to determining the wants and needs of younger consumers.

The world is changing fast. Yet women’s domination of consumer spending in both ecommerce and traditional retail remains constant. The tools of the trade may be changing, but women’s role as “chief purchasing officer” of the home hasn’t – nor have the fundamentals of female culture. It’s comforting to know that no matter how fast technology advances, no matter how frequently people shop on their mobile phones and laptops, one thing remains the same: women are the purchasers of this world, and understanding why she buys is the most valuable insurance policy there is, for 2015 and beyond.

 

 

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Women Consumers Checking Online Reviews Before Checking Out

December 22nd, 2014 by Linda Landers

85A new study by Influence Central confirms the dramatic impact online reviews have on consumers this holiday season, with Amazon emerging as the top site that consumers rely on for checking reviews. According to the study, 85 percent of women consumers consider e-commerce reviews extremely or very important when making a purchase, with 90 percent of consumers saying that an online review is more important than input from a salesperson.

Additional findings include:

  • 88 percent of consumers consider online reviews very influential when purchasing a new product from a brand with which they’re not familiar.
  • The three biggest reasons women seek out online reviews for holiday shopping are to 1) ensure quality; 2) gather more information when choosing between similar products; and 3) get the best deal.
  • For the 43 percent of consumers who check online reviews for items they’ve purchased before, they do so to see if others have had a similar experience and also to see if there is a better product option.
  • Consumers consider themselves savvy discerners of reviews, with 97 percent saying they can tell if a review is authentic.
  • 87 percent of respondents post online reviews themselves either occasionally or often.
  • Consumers are also more mobile than ever, with 26 percent reading reviews from their phones and 18 percent from their tablets. The majority still rely on their laptops and desktops, though, with 88 percent checking reviews most often from their computers.
  • Outside of Amazon, the top sites in which consumers rely on online reviews as extremely or very important are Target (67 percent), Best Buy (64 percent) and Walmart (62 percent).
  • 76 percent of shoppers plan to write online reviews of the products they either love or hate this holiday season.

So what does this all mean? For retailers and brand managers, it means taking note of the increasingly important role of online reviews– shoppers are getting savvy, and the tides are changing. Companies that understand the importance of reputation management and online reviews will be at a major advantage.

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15 Digital Trends for 2015

December 21st, 2014 by Linda Landers

Whether you’re marketing to women or not, brands that stay abreast of the latest digital trends will have the best marketing results in 2015. Not every brand will be able to put every new piece of technology to use in its public relations or marketing strategies, but knowing about the latest advances in the way people communicate with each other and with their favorite brands is important in creating your marketing programs and strategies.

With 2015 fast approaching, Bell Pottinger Digital analyzed the most talked about digital trends of 2014 and ranked them in the infographic below in order of percentage increase throughout the year. Take a look for a preview of what technologies are expected to make the most impact next year:

 

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Even Companies That Sell Tampons Are Run By Women

December 16th, 2014 by Linda Landers

originalAs Appeared In Huffington Post

Most women would rather not discuss the intricacies of their period with a man. Most men seem fine with that.

Yet, until just five years ago, it was up to a largely male-led team to figure out how to market tampons, maxi-pads and other feminine products at Kimberly-Clark, the company behind Kotex, Huggies and Kleenex.

That translated into ads featuring blue liquids dumped on sanitary napkins, and portraying ecstatic women clad in all-white dancing and frolicking, apparently while menstruating. That’s a scenario approximately no woman has ever related to.
A compilation of awkward images from vintage Kotex commercials. The company recently poked fun at its old advertising tactics in a new “U By Kotex” campaign. Story continues after the photos.

The absurdity of the situation came to light about five years ago at Kimberly-Clark, when CEO Tom Falk brought the male executive in charge of Kotex to present a marketing strategy for the more than 90-year-old brand to the company’s board of directors

After the presentation, some board members politely asked Falk: “Don’t you think you can get a female to present the strategy to us?”   (read more)

 

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Working Mom Spotlight on Girlpower Marketing

November 10th, 2014 by Linda Landers

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I met Kerry Rivera not too long ago. Besides being a full-time working mom of three kids, Kerry writes for a variety of outlets and has her own wonderful blog called Breadwinning Mama. She recently invited me to participate in her blog’s “Working Mom Spotlight,” which I thought I’d share here. Thanks, Kerry!

Her Juggle: Linda Landers

Networking when you have a full-time gig and kids is tough, but I almost always find the effort worth it. There are so many interesting people to meet, and when I discovered Linda Landers, owner of Girlpower Marketing, I had to reach out and invite her to coffee. Her company is so needed by brands today (as her stats will reveal), and I wanted to learn more about her career journey and life as “mom.” Check out “her juggle” and learn more about her company. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Read more here . . .

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Marketing to Moms – You’ve Got This!

October 28th, 2014 by Linda Landers

While there is great joy, it’s really hard being a mom. More often than not, moms feel at the end of the day they could have done it just a little bit better.

A mom’s daily experience almost always clashes with the cultural ideal of motherhood.  The reality is — there is no perfect mom.  So why do marketers insist on perpetuating the stereotype?  Motherhood is like riding an emotional roller coaster. And emotions drive behaviors. Marketers need to understand those behaviors and help moms achieve her version of success, streamline her life and find a path toward healthy living for herself and her family.

Find out what happens when thirty moms who’ve never met have an honest conversation and inspire other women in this video created by Jessica Alba’s Honest Co.

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Marketing to Breadwinner Women

August 7th, 2014 by Linda Landers

imagesThese days, when “Honey, I’m home!” is shouted up the stairs at the end of the day, it may very well NOT be the husband who’s come home from a hard day at work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, nearly 40 percent of wives now earn more money than their husbands. That’s a huge jump from just 11 percent back in 1960, and a staggering shift in our society.

Forget the Stereotype. Today’s women are more than just sugar and spice and everything nice. One needs only to peruse the list of Fortune 500 or Fortune 1000 companies to see that women quickly are becoming as powerful and successful in business as men. The 24 female CEOs on the Fortune 500 list represent just a handful of the hardworking women that companies should be addressing in their marketing strategies. Women are also the dominant sex earning bachelor’s degrees, indicating that the trajectory for their earning power will continue to climb even higher over the coming years.

Know the Numbers. More than ever, women are driving household incomes and the global consumer economy itself. They influence or control 85 percent of consumer spending in the United States. That’s 68 percent of new car purchases, and 80 percent of healthcare spending. 91 percent of new homes, and 92 percent of vacation travel.

For those businesses that have yet to identify a strategy for appealing to the “breadwinner” women, author Bridget Brennan identifies three smart ways in her book “Why She Buys,” to approach this massive opportunity:

1.  Invest in sales training, because women who routinely negotiate at work expect great service when they leave the office. Research shows that women have higher expectations of customer service than men do.  How has your sales training evolved?  Women will walk out the door and walk off the lot because of poor or frustrating service. Many service issues are based on a perceived lack of respect, attention or even dignity.  Though it’s clear that women are changing, old stereotypes die hard. Some of the best advice for salespeople in the age of breadwinner women is this:  don’t assume anything.  Don’t assume she’s not the decision-maker; don’t assume she’s married with kids; and most of all, don’t assume she can’t afford whatever it is you’re selling.

2.  Make her hours, your hours. When a woman takes a job outside the home, it impacts every aspect of her life, from what time she wakes up in the morning to what she wears, where and when she shops, and even what she eats.

If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, are you staffing up at lunchtime, when many women squeeze in their errands?  Are you offering delivery options outside of traditional business hours, so she doesn’t have to take a day off work?  Are you open in the hours before the workday begins?  Take the time and effort to study the changing traffic patterns of your female customers to ensure that your hours of operation match hers.

3. Offer Services, Not Just Products. Women appreciate service as much or more than “stuff.” This is the sweet spot for Lexus – their warranty provides free, 24/7 roadside assistance; a bumper-to-bumper warranty; free loaner car with any servicing; free car washes; and free new owner events that help customers install Bluetooth and change automatic settings on seats and radios. Providing helpful service can ensure that women appreciate your business and recommend it to their circle of friends and colleagues.

The truth is that no matter what you’re selling, what you’re really selling is help.  And breadwinner or not, all womenwill thank you for providing it.

 

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Why Teens Terrorize Us

July 21st, 2014 by Linda Landers

Excerpted from an essay by Lisa Heffernan on Grown and Flown.  

I have a teen in my house who is leaving in a few short weeks. Despite the fact that I know that it is only a matter of days until I will bemoan his departure, I am still surprisingly adept at flying into a rage at him. His need to assert his newly adult self and my need to control what happens in my home are too often on a collision course. Despite our deep and abiding love for them, teens continue to terrorize us, creating the type of stress that scientists have now begun to measure.

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One day your young person borrows your car, drives to a summer job and spends the day as an income-earning citizen fully capable of responsible employment. That very afternoon, your kitchen is trashed, there are dirty clothes carpeting the floor, and a well-established curfew has been dispensed with like it wasn’t even there. Your authority has been trampled. Your gas tank and refrigerator are empty, every inch of your car teems with discarded Gatorade bottles, beef jerky wrappers and trash that is simply beyond identification.

You remind yourself that this is what teens are like, alternately capable young adults and selfish self-involved children. You recall that it is the age, that they do not stay like this. If there are older children you throw your mind back to their transformation and then you turn around, willing yourself to be calm, and shriek, “WTF, that is the last time you borrow my car.”

I am alternately trying to figure out how to say goodbye to a child I love beyond reason and so apoplectic I cannot even speak to him. The seesaw that is raising a teen is a source of much stress. Some of it is undoubtedly my fault (or any parent’s fault) as we lurch around and grapple for steady ground as our children travel the rocky road to adulthood.

Teens terrorize us because:

  • They are neither one thing nor another. They are capable of being sane mature adults and petulant children, in the very same conversation. They have the bodies of grown ups and the emotional range of toddlers. They are risk seeking missiles whose favorite phrase is “I got this” when it is patently clear that they’ve got nothing. Our protective urge is undiminished but our ability to assure their safety is vastly reduced. This alone can result in sky-high stress.
  • They routinely overestimate their competence in dealing with adult matters. Even in the face of bad outcomes teens can struggle to see either their fault or how they could have done things differently. As parents with a lifetime of experience, this is painful to watch.
  • They inhabit a world of very real consequences. Their missteps can have profound effects on their future (and on others) yet they struggle to understand the gravity of their attitudes and actions.
  • They live on an emotional rollercoaster and as Lisa Belkin pointed out, they want us to ride it with them. She so aptly explains that we do not need to climb aboard with them (although it takes parents a while to learn this) but this still means that there is a fairground ride operating in our homes.
  • It all happens so quickly and we can barely catch our breath. At age 14 only 13% of teens had used alcohol in the previous month by age 18 that number is 41%. Similarly before age 15, 16% of teens have had sex and four years later that number is 71%. By the time the leave for college 54% of kids have been sexting. Much is changing in their lives, experiences and perspectives and as parents we can struggle to keep up.
  • It is just hard dealing with anyone, at any age, who already knows everything. This impenetrable fortress of knowledge is just one more battle ground in the fight between experience and the hubris of youth.
  • Adolescents confuse understanding with agreement.They think saying so, makes it so, according to Sheras, “They think if they explain something to you adequately, you will agree with them. So when parents say, ‘I’m not going to let you do that,’ adolescents almost universally say, ‘You don’t understand.’”
  • The influence of their peers outweighs ours. It is excruciating when you child values the insight of a peer (a mere child) whom he may have known for weeks or days, over the person who loves him the most and has his interest at heart (and BTW is an adult). It is hard not to wonder where their critical thinking has gone.
  • The balance has shifted. When our kids were small and we were unhappy with them or disciplined them, they got angry or contrite but they were not indifferent. If, in doing our jobs as parents of teens we make them unhappy, they may now withdraw. Punishing our kids always felt bad, but the silent treatment or their physical retreat makes it even worse.

I have long subscribed the U shape theory of parenting which suggests that the most challenging days are at the beginning and the end and that the sweet spot of parenting lies in the middle. I once told my brother that I would do a deal with the devil if my then 6, 9 and 10 year olds could stay little forever. The devil wasn’t buying and my kids became teens.

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So Long Soccer Mom? Carmakers Fine-Tune Their Marketing Pitch to Women

July 14th, 2014 by Linda Landers

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With women influencing up to 85% of all car purchases and outnumbering men in holding drivers licenses, automakers are beginning to make them a focus in their marketing efforts. We’re happy to be included in the Automotive News article below.

http://www.autonews.com/article/20140714/RETAIL03/307149919/fine-tuning-the-pitch-to-women

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