by Faith Popcorn & Lys Marigold. 2000, 272 pages, $24.95, ISBN 0-7868-6523-7. Published by Hyperion.
If your new consumer product is selling like crazy, you may not feel you need this book. If, however, you feel you are not getting the response you should get, this book may provide some answers to your problem. Its cute title and subtitle "The Eight Truths of Marketing to Women", may mislead some, particularly men, into thinking this is not a serious guide to marketing. But consider Faith Popcorn's credentials. She is recognized worldwide for her successful predictions of trends. She anticipated the amazing success of sport-utility vehicles, the sales boom in alternative medicines, and the failure of New Coke. Her consulting firm has many premier clients, among them IBM, BMW, and Nabisco. The fact that her lecture fee is between $30,000 and $40,000 is also a strong indication that this lady has something worth hearing.
Popcorn bases her book on eight key principles and devotes an entire chapter to each one. In Chapter One, she discusses the basic fact that women connect to other women. 70% say they learn the most about new products from other women. Women are 50% of the online population. The slick super hype ads of forty years ago no longer sell women on a brand. She cites the convincing power of the Rosie O'Donnell and Oprah TV shows and suggests you click into iVillage.com, disgruntled housewife.com and wellweb.com to get a feel for how your brand may fit in.
In Chapter Two, she observes an important gender difference, men focus, women multi-task and lead multiple lives. Her firm coined a new word to describe marketing to women at work -- Perfessional. This describes the "ultimate blurring of the personal and professional". If you have female employees, this section is a must read. She cites, as an example, the invention of the Baby Jogger, which allows a woman to keep her baby with her while she gets some exercise.
Chapter Three answers the timeless question, "What do women want?" The authors cite example after example of how men and women are wired differently. The key point made here is "Anticipating what women want". They recite how Sony, specifically Akio Morita, practiced "anticipatory marketing" with resounding success.
Chapter Four states that the old in-your-face image advertising is dead as far as women are concerned. Again, women are wired differently and their massive buying power demands you understand the differences. She cites what she terms "a woman's Peripheral Vision". She suggests some new and unusual approaches. She gives the example of Carly Fiorina, chief executive of Hewlett-Packard (83,000 workers, $42 billion sales), who is focusing on customers, not products.
Chapter Five examines the changes that the large increase in women working has brought about and observes, "The idea that woman consumers need your product more than you need them is Neanderthal thinking". The new magic word is -- Convenience. The time saving, convenience, and privacy of on-line shopping appeals to women. Popcorn calls it the "Go to Her Truth".
In Chapter Six, Popcorn says that over the years she has not seen one marketing and media plan dealing with the "Next Generation". Yet new generation customers often begin their selecting based on brands their parents favored. Martha Stewart is given as an example of how to create instant heirlooms and instant traditions.
Chapter Seven introduces the concept of "Co-parenting as the best way to raise a brand". This means inviting suggestions and acting on them. Many companies cannot welcome help or share the credit. She cites why focus groups fail to elicit true opinions. Many examples on how true opinions can be solicited are given.
Chapter Eight deals with how to win the trust of women. The authors emphasize "Everything Matters". Successful companies today must have a conscience and their customers must be made aware that they do.
Chapter Nine is a case history study of how "Revlon has lost its mooring, lost emotional contact with its customers...". She reviews the brilliant marketing at the start and suggests how Revlon could recapture their lead.
The seven page appendix lists a great many books, magazines, and web sites for further pursuing the subject. A glossary up front provides definitions to the many coined words created since the founding, in 1974, of her marketing consulting firm "Brain Reserve".
Will reading this book help you decide which color box your new widget should be packed in? Probably not. But if your widget falls among the 80% of consumer products, in the United States, whose purchase is decided by a woman, reading this book will enable you to better understand the factors that determine her decision.