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  • Purnima Thakre

Marketing to Women

Updated: Feb 13, 2022

Women hold an immense amount of buying power, driving an estimated 70-80% of all consumer purchasing decisions. Yet research shows that 91% of women believe advertisers don’t understand them.

Market to women

At refine+focus, we’ve worked with both large and small brands to help them succeed at marketing to women. The catch? It’s not just about marketing to women—it’s about marketing to a specific customer segment that you’re trying to target. Our experience has taught us that it all boils down to listening and learning.

Tips to get started

Be authentic. According to Forbes, “Brands that integrate real women’s stories into their messaging in an authentic way have the best chance of making an impact.” Create messaging that resonates by using the voices of everyday women to tell real stories. Letting them speak in their own style and voice will help you avoid delivery that feels too commercial. 

Avoid generalizations. “Shrink it and pink it” won’t cut it anymore. Harvard Business Review found that there are six key female consumer segments, most of them based more on behavior than age. Many women are not mothers, don’t have husbands, work full time—in other words, exist outside of stereotypes, and marketers would do well to target them specifically. 

Segment further based on demographic and psychographic background. Market considering intersectionality—categories like home life, schooling, roles at work, and caregiving are all facets of a woman’s life, not to mention race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation. Show the complexity and the wide range of situations that women face so that they feel represented at all levels. Check out this great article from UN Women to learn more about marketing positive gender portrayals during COVID-19.

Build women into the product. Women still have trouble finding jeans that fit, yet they represent over $20 trillion in consumer spending and make 70-80% of the purchasing decisions in the household, according to statistics by Harvard Business Review. The design of a product built for women should reflect that, and go even further by considering a particular segment or persona.

Use online platforms (particularly influencers). Influencers have an established bond with their followers, and women influencers know how to use that bond to reach women in a genuine way. Find an influencer that aligns with your target segment and allow her to use her unique communication style to market the product in a way that resonates. Another platform to consider is Pinterest, which according to Martech Advisors reaches “83% of women aged 25–54 in the U.S.” On top of that, 71% of users identify as female, making this platform women-dominated and a rising star in advertising.

Empower women holistically, not selectively. Everlane is known for being inclusive in its underwear and lingerie lines, but faces criticism for using typically skinny models for its other products. These kinds of discrepancies don’t go unnoticed—they shape the way that women understand and interact with a brand. Inclusivity and empowerment are more than just marketing for profit: they have social and material effects. Women want to know that a brand is genuine in its approach to empowerment, and they’ll look for it in every facet of that brand. 

Try it yourself

Ultimately, marketing to women, like marketing to any segment, requires listening and learning. Follow these tips to make sure you don’t fall back on dated and misguided techniques, but approach women as they really are—unique individuals with their own pains, gains, and needs. Having trouble? Check out our Empowered Women Series for inspiration, or shoot us an email at—we’d love to help.

Want to learn more?

We all know that marketing to women isn’t about “pink it and shrink it.” Yet many of us, especially marketers, are scrambling to understand the best ways to gain insight and develop compelling approaches to reaching women—approaches that are authentic and effective. Check out our latest Live Session to hear Zach and Purnima share their POV and answer your questions on this important topic. From 16+ years of experience, they’ll share what works for them.

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