How to make female consumers your business driver “To INDEX”

How to make female consumers
your business driver
By Helle Katholm Knutsen & Mette Reinhardt Jakobsen
The Female Benchmark
Stop assuming and start listening
The Female
How interaction with female
customers can fuel innovation,
quality, communication and
common sense – for the benefit
of all customers. And how to
steer clear of roadblocks and
Gender balanced on the road convenience
Time to meet some new people
FemmeDEN, New York
Gender is an integrated part of designing
Women are your ultimate benchmark
“De selvkørende” 1
Userdriven is a universal demand
”Hvis de bare lader mig være i fred, så skal jeg nok selv finde
ud af det. Jeg kan jo betale min egen skat. Jeg kan selv finde en
daginstitution. Jo mindre kontakt, jo mindre kø - jo bedre er det
for mig.” 2
Camilla og Jesper bor i Lyngby tæt ved København. De er 35 og 39 år
og har nok at se til med børn og karriere. De har boet sammen i 5
år og har for 2 år siden fået lille Storm. Jesper har desuden børnene
Christian og Karoline på 11 og 8 år fra sit tidligere ægteskab. De bor
halvdelen af tiden hos Jesper og Camilla.
No solo segment called women
og Jesper
har enwhitegoods
travl hverdag. De bruger
and også
derne på at aftale, hvem der gør hvad. Selv om de har rengøringshjælp og en ung pige, der henter Storm nogle gange hver uge, er det
svært at nå det hele. Når de har de store børn, skal de også køres til
deres fritidsaktiviteter.
Camilla er uddannet civilingeniør og ansat i en privat produktionsvirksomhed som seniorkonsulent. 3 I fritiden ror Camilla kajak og vil
tage et instruktørkursus, når Storm er lidt større. Camilla har en hem-
melig drøm om at sige sit faste job op og leve af at undervise i kajak.
Siden Jesper blev færdig på Københavns Universitet, har han været
syd for København. Jesper holder meget af at løbe, hvilket også
Mad Marketing
ansat i det offentlige. I dag er han chef for miljøområdet i en kom-
Share knowledge and qualify discussions
Web structured storytelling fits perfect with
female DNA
sluger noget tid. Så de prøver at optimere tiden, hvor de kan.
Rediscover the sleeping potential
of the products
A brand new look at your business
The Royal families
The Female Benchmark
We want to help you connect closely and profitably
with your current and potential customers.
Those who make the difference!
Our aim is better, relevant products for everyone, and
the beauty of the story is that the sought-after benefits for the leading female consumers are the key to
future business for your company
Rediscover and celebrate diversity
The world’s biggest market opportunity, the female consumer as a demanding, inspiring driver in all kinds of
product areas, is wildly underserved!
That was breaking news 15 years ago
when Faith Popcorn launched ”Eveolution”. She caused quite a buzz, but
as it turned out, not a corresponding
amount of actual business change. So
the potential is still fresh and fertile.
A big hurdle remains though: too
many managers, product developers
and marketing people think they already know how to reach the female
consumer without ever having taken
the time and effort to get to know her
real life and wishes. There’s a lot of
wishful thinking and awkward pinking
going on.
The good news is that there is available research and experiences out there
and in our book, ready to show how to
make a strategic female benchmark
lead you to better business.
move market shares, you need to know
how to connect with the female market
driver. Once and for all: talking about
user-driven innovation without having
an intimate knowledge of half of your
customers has to end.
Another piece of reassuring news to
those of you who have been reluctant to
dig into the gender issue on a commercial basis is that it can be done intelligently, without hurting anybody’s feelings. You can let the female demands
and desires lead you and at the same
time include and actually please the
men, if you get it right. It’s about taking
gender seriously without judgement.
Talking about gender with the potential and promise it offers, yet without
all the emotional baggage. It’s still, to
many people, a touchy subject - and
they tend to be either too uncomfortable or too over-heated to talk about it
smartly. Time to put the worries away
and start working. Time to stop ”handling the diversity problem” and start
harvesting the proven potential.
And in case you forgot: on average
80 % of all decisions, when it comes to
buying consumer goods globally are
made or heavily influenced by women.
This fact was established once again
during The Female Interaction Project,
a recent, comprehensive research into
female users of technological products,
included in the book.
Combine that knowledge with the
fact that a substantial majority of product developers are males and not even
close to the average male user, but positioned remotely, at the very systematic
and feature-loving end of the gender
scale. Then you can imagine the challenge.
The latter, however, is not necessarily an insurmountable problem as it
seems that everybody can learn how to
put him or herself out of the equation
if they are told and inspired to do so.
That goes for marketing people too.
Forget about shrinking and pinking
Finally beyond nice to know
For more than 30 years western culTime has come to move beyond fluffy
tures have been obsessed with making
talk and nice-to-know predictions about Facts about female consumers and feamales and females more alike. Now the
womenomics. To move from bias to in- ture-loving engineers
time has come to rediscover and celenovation, using gender as a ressource. We’ve found all the good advice and brate diversity and thus gender differTo release business opportunities and methods, you need to get started.
ences. First and foremost: the female
Photography credit: the courtesy of Smart Design
Stop assuming and start listening
The Female Benchmark
A proven way to
rediscover and release
your business potential
tures and also about the real age of the
most interesting customers.
There are several points of interest
when it comes to womenomics/sheconomy. This book is about business opportunities.
There are high-risc loving women
and safety-hungering men out there.
This book sees gender as a continuum and is about most women and most
men most of the time. It is very important to stress, that the gender aspect is
not a matter of ability, but a difference
in motivation. Men and women differ
in their perception of what matters in
life, and male and female differences
do not only relate to what they can do
respectively - but what they LIKE to do,
given the freedom to do so.
There are people who seriously believe that you can make male engineers, management and marketing experts think like a woman.
This book demonstrates that you
can come a long way by making them
stop thinking and stop assuming for at
Stop assuming and start listening
There are several diversity factors, like while and start listening to real life conage, culture, ethnicity and sub cultures, sumers.
There are embarrassing examples of
that are relevant from a business point
shrinking and pinking out there, and
of view.
This book is about gender across cul- we can’t help mentioning a few, but
consumer is conscious, demanding and
picky and will not be fed with products
added with girlish colours or decorative details. So forget about shrinking,
pinking and dumbing down.
We are about to see diversity thinking
bring thoughtful and deep innovation
to an industry steeped in tradition and
struggling to maintain competetive advantage. And you are about to rediscover your products all over again by seeing them through a female lens.
The crisis has changed consumer behavior, and some of the changes, like
the increasing focus on lasting qualities, fits perfectly with the environmental agenda which is going to last
forever. This change is led by female
In order to meet these users’ requirements you need to know them well and
to share their pleasant and, more important, not so pleasant experiences
with your products.
“Rediscover and celebrate diversity”
this book is about letting female consumers inspire and drive you to create
products, services and communication,
that genuinely appeal to both men and
women. Sometimes for very different
“Dig down for a quick recap on sex and
gender differences.”
Can you combine the wishes of men and
women in your product?
When you think about it, it’s not that
easy to find 5-10 products that are only
for men or only for women, and it’s going to get harder every year from now
on, because the lives and roles of men
and women are overlapping. Mascara?
No. Manicure? No. Soccer boots? No.
Expensive wines? No. Baby strollers?
No. Cigars? No. Extremely expensive
cars? No. Pensions and private banking? No. Try for yourself.
There are lots of product areas,
though, in which one ”size” does not
at all fit both genders. Some are well
known, like clothing, watches, hairdressing and jewellery. Among others
there is still lots of room for improvement: Sports equipment, back packs,
medicine and health care, dentist
drills, hearing aids, seat belts etcetera.
“Stop assuming and start listening”
“The sleeping potential of your product”
“What we call “the social proof””
“a solo segment named women doesn’t exist.”
The sleeping potential of your product
The Female Benchmark
Changing your perception
of what your product
can do for the
actual customer
But in many, many more product areas you need to and you could (if you
would) cover the wishes of peer men
and women in one product/service.
Think cars, electronics, including navigation and safety systems, travel, hotels,
shops, robots for the home, furniture
and whitegoods for singles, kitchen appliances in general, insurance, vacuum
cleaners, doors, real estate, safety, DIY.
And most likely, your line of business
The sleeping potential of your product
From the childhood of consumerism
products for both genders have been invented and designed by men. With men
in mind. Playful enthusiasm for technical conquests have resulted in products
like remote controls, that at least half
of the users have come to consider as
a necessary evil, which comes with a 50
pages “quick start manual”.
It’s time to understand that changing
this way of thinking could be great for
female as well as modern male users,
but gender is not understood by just being a man or a woman.
One of the problems for brands and
businesses these days is the sea of sameness. You could say, we have innovated
ourselves to death – but only when it
comes to an ever increasing amount of
similar products with more ”horsepower”, expressed in functions, that you
either don’t need or can’t operate or
Where do we go from here? Where
will brands find inspiration to stand
out in the shops and on their websites
– and blend into real people’s lives with
relevant benefits?
The answer is obvious, and the cases
of the book show, that it can be done.
To help you start thinking about
the potential, imagine a door for your
house. You can focus on its thickness,
the features of materials and locks, the
brutality of the burglar, the size and
and the price, and you can forget about
the emotional aspects and the environmental/green issues – or you can
dig into the female points of interest.
This is what one of our case companies,
JELD-WEN did. And suddenly they
were much more concerned with issues
like how well do these doors protect the
female customer and her family?
In which situations of her every day
life does the door play an important
role? Sometimes it’s not about starting from scratch – but just a matter of
“Rediscover and celebrate diversity”
changing your perception of what your
product can do for the actual customer
- and telling other stories about it. It’s
about rediscovering a sleeping potential in your product. Might take a while
to make the internal change happen,
but Danish Professor in Economy &
Management, Anders Drejer, has some
efficient advice about that in a comprehensive interview about moving management strategy by focusing on female
values and showing some courage.
Break free of gender bias
Of course there is Apple. No need to
describe that case. You probably live
with it anyway. As simple as it seems, it’s
obviously a complicated elixir to copy.
Otherwise the global pet wouldn’t have
been able to remain untouchable in
spite of a reputation, which is certainly
not unblemished.
Diversity is in the very DNA of Apple,
and the success just goes to show, how
far diversity can take you, if you get the
values right and stick to them. In the
U.S. most companies are aware of diversity as a ressource.
In Europe, where equality is considered obvious, we tend sometimes to
find it hard to talk about differences,
“Stop assuming and start listening”
“The sleeping potential of your product”
“What we call “the social proof””
“a solo segment named women doesn’t exist.”
a solo segment named women doesn’t exist.
The Female Benchmark
Break free of gender bias:
Celebrating diversity is
closely linked to
global business in the
years to come.
gendered focus is a key ingredient in all
areas of high quality research.
The Female Interaction project included three case companies: GN Netcom, Bang & Olufsen and Danfoss and
the development of real prototypes.
In the book you find a Danfoss-interview that shows how fast and rather dramatically you can start redirecting a supertanker, if you get top down back up.
The project also showed that real life
No high quality research without
users and studies might be a bit of a
the gendered focus
Let’s give you a few interesting details wake up call for designers and marketfrom the brand new cases and findings, ing people, who sometimes tend to put
you are going to get to know from read- too much wishful thinking into the picture of the potential customer. Some
ing the book:
One of the many findings from de- of them might even think, that women
sign-people’s Female Interaction pro- 18+ can be a target group.
ject (which proved that easy operation
beats aesthetics) was that the major A refreshingly new starting point
benefit experienced by women when Professor Anders Drejer states that
using a cell phone is a feeling of safe- a great deal of current management
ty. That finding alone could provide strategies are created from male values,
brands with an interesting innovation and that there is a direct correlation between values and behaviour.
Lots of money is wasted on informaAt almost the same time as design-people launched their Female Interaction tion that you are already aware of.
In stead the professor recommends
research results, the Clayman Institute
at Stanford University and the German that you investigate customer-segments
research institution Fraunhofer (with a that you don’t know – and women might
1.7 billion Euros budget) stated that a be a refreshing place to start.
not only as a political issue but as a
business potential.
You need an open mind, a business
attitude and to break free of gender
bias – and sorry to say that you can’t just
pick one of them. The will to accomodate and appreciate diversity is closely
linked to business (as well as politics) in
the years to come.
“Rediscover and celebrate diversity”
This means that you need to ask her
and meet her at all levels of your company - and consider your new target
group highly competent.
”Humans are conservative by nature
so you’ll need to use some force, if you
want new things to happen”, says Drejer and ads: ”It’s a traditional male way
of thinking to say ”you can get what we
have”. It’s a market perception going all
the way back to Fordism”.
No such thing as a segment named women
In the chapter about successfully implemented user research you can read
about why the concept of personas is
key to bashing the stereotypes!
Personas have a very high communicative power, and they really help
to realize that a solo segment named
women doesn’t exist.
The young designer or marketing guy
might prefer to imagine miss 17 years
old Mary as a target, but if 50+ years
old Karen is the relevant customer with
enough money to buy (your climate system or expensive bed or exclusive travel experience), you’d better get to enjoy
spending time in her company.
We bring you a case-story from Danish hearing-aid manufacturer, Widex,
“Stop assuming and start listening”
“The sleeping potential of your product”
“What we call “the social proof””
“a solo segment named women doesn’t exist.”
What we call “the social proof”
The Female Benchmark
Bridge the gap between
assumptions and realities
about modern-day women
- and men
a company that applied the personas
method to their R&D work, and thereby opened the doors to a whole new understanding of what both male and female clients actually are searching for.
An understanding that has been
shared thoughout the company and
still creates surprises.
Technology needs to warm up
The New York based Smart Design includes a group of specialists, who make
sure that the female voice is heard loud
and clear in the development projects.
The group femmeDen was founded
to bridge the gap between assumptions
and realities about modern-day women. Whitney Hopkins from femmeDen
shares with us a lot of useful advice and
cases to show, how the female consumer’s points of view and motives inspire
new ways of thinking.
Hopkins says: ”The lack of recognition that women are not just one small,
united group, leads to designs that do
not excite the majority of women, A
teenager and a working mom are not
similar customers”.
She adds: ”Technology needs to
warm up to become more human”. So
far facts tell us that 50 % of women as
opposed to 37 % of men are seriously
interested in living with tecnical systems and helpers in their homes.
Hopkins also adresses the change of
gender roles which can turn out to be a
dangerous trap: ”Gender encapsulates
the political/cultural views of how a
man or a woman should act, whereas
sex expresses the biological differences. This has shifted greatly over time.
What is acceptable for me, as a gen-X
woman, is completely different, from
what was acceptable for my grandmother and even my mother.
The acceptance for women to do
things that were once considered male
only, has been a large generational
shift. We are starting to see a similar
shift for men, where activities like taking care of the home and the children
are now considered perfectly normal.
The cultural landscape dictating gender expectations is narrowing and becoming more subtle”.
The femmeDen case will teach you
to identify the roadblocks holding businesses from reaching and connceting
with the female market – and show you
ways of removing them and releasing
the potential.
“Rediscover and celebrate diversity”
From mad marketing to social media
Amanda Stevens (Australian) and
Thomas Jordan (American) are the
M2W (marketing to women) experts,
we have chosen to highlight the answers to three interesting questions:
Who on earth do advertising people
in general think they are appealing to,
and how far are we from the days of
Mad Men?
How does the rise and impact of social media fit with the ever increasing
buying power of women – and how is it
changing the business agenda?
And which female target group will
control the global spending power over
the next few decades?
Prepare for a few surprises.
As far as the first question is concerned,
probably the misery starts with two
assumptions: there is no interesting
news/relevant benefit in the product –
and men and women view advertising
in the same way. The first might unfortunately be true, but the second is definately wrong.
Amanda Stevens states that:”An incredibly efficient way of sharing stories
with women is that of testemonials.
What we call “the social proof”. The
“Stop assuming and start listening”
“The sleeping potential of your product”
“What we call “the social proof””
“a solo segment named women doesn’t exist.”
The Female Benchmark
Women trust women to
recommend products over
all other forms of media
success, however, depends on your ability to find out, who your customers find
sympathetic and trustworthy.”
Anyway; women trust women to
recommend products over all other
forms of media, according to Amanda
and Tom.
And note this piece of advice if you
haven’t thought about it: there is an entire wave of opportunity for entrepreneurs, developing and designing for
the single-person household of all ages.
power of womenomics: ”The customer
is not a moron, she is your wife!” Even
if that is a sort of progress in understanding, it can be a really bad idea to
think that all women are like your wife
– which is why you need to get to know
other women too. As customers that is.
Reality bites
The book includes four stories from
the real lives of the authors to make
you start imagining how the reality of
female consumers is full of innovation
potential. The areas are hotels, whitegoods, electronics and cars.
Car design and dealerships are obvious areas where the learnings could
make a world of difference. Never the
less the mascot we have chosen is the
MINI, a great example of transparent
design that appeals to men as well as
women for different reasons.
And a final word of warning to our
male readers: An advertising guru, David Ogilvy, once said about the lack of
understanding when it comes to the
“Rediscover and celebrate diversity”
“Stop assuming and start listening”
“The sleeping potential of your product”
“What we call “the social proof””
“a solo segment named women doesn’t exist.”
Dig down for a quick recap on sex and gender differences.
The Female Benchmark
a quick recap on sex and
gender differences
Sex differences are biological, whereas gender differences include environmental influence/cultural socializing.
There is not one brain area in the female or the male brain that is totally
alike, and the male brain is 10 % bigger
than the female brain.
All the differences in behavior and
motivation are due to one hormone;
testosterone. Everybody is conceived
without it, but at the age of around six
months, some fetuses get a shot of testosterone, and they turn out to be boys.
Already from the age of 6-9 months
girls and boys show very differerent
playing behavior. And if you find it
hard to believe that these differences
should have anything to do with biology, male and female rhesus monkeys
do the same.
Among the differences are also, that
the females speak before and more
than the boys.
Puberty is the next time when the
boys have a shot, and while they cry as
much and for the same reasons as the
girls until that age, this is what makes
them change. Girls and women cry because of troubles, boys and men for sentimental reasons.
Get the feeling
However women are not – as earlier research has suggested – better at reading
emotions from face expressions. Men
actually do a bit better when it comes to
Some feelings like joy, embarrasment,
sadness, and fear are mostly linked to
women, whereas anger, contempt, and
pride tend to be more linked to men.
But the difference has more to do with
the way the emotions are expressed
then the actual experinence of them.
And men are indisputably superior,
when it comes to risc taking. This is the
reason, why men are impulse buyers,
and lightly clothed women in ads really
do bust this behavior.
As far as aggression and social behavoir is concerned, the key to understanding the differences, is to focus
on THE WAY the two genders act. For
instance females prefer very close relations, while men prefer more loose
Normal distribution
Let’s just repeat: The abilities and intelligence of women and men are the
same. The interests, the motives and
the priorities are not. For most of them
most of the time. When you work with
these scientific truths, remember that
they express a normal distribution.
This means that even if you happen to
know one or two women or men who
do NOT fit into this picture, this does
NOT affect the scientific studies, and
your friends are ok, even if they are not
in the middle of the normal distribution.
Also remember that just because you
are a women, you do not understand
what all other women want.
It is very important to us to stress that
the gender aspect is not a matter of
ability, but a difference in motivation.
Men and women differ in their perception of what matters in life.
Male and female differences (as they
are considered in this book and in the
Female Interaction research project described later) do not only relate to differences in what they CAN do respectively – but what they LIKE to do, given
the freedom to do so.
If you want to know more, check out
the work of Lone Frank, author and science journalist, and
our list of litterature.
The authors
Helle Katholm Knutsen
Editor in Chief of Detail on Retail
Board member in Living Institute, a
company dealing with the potential of
diversity. Advisory board member in
design-people and the research project
Female interaction (
Author of several books, among which
was the first non-American book about
the business potential of knowing your
female customer. (Kig dine kvindelige
kunder i kortene).
Consultant within womenomics, public relations, communication, retail innovation and brand values.
Co-founder of The Skandinavian Design College and earlier Public Relations director at Bang & Olufsen.
Lives and works in Denmark and
Mette Reinhardt Jakobsen
Communications Consultant & Market Research expert. Currently working in Danish media agency Periskop
(, producing magazines and podcasts on global consumer
trends, management and business topics. Customer intelligence consultant
in the research project Female Interaction ( Author of two Danish textbooks on qualitative methodologies (Fokusgrupper
for begyndere & Brugbar brugerinddragelse) and co-author of Guidebook
to a Female Interaction strategy.
External lecturer in Audience Research at Danish School of Journalism.
Master of Arts in French & Media
Studies from University of Aarhus,
Denmark & Higher National Diploma
in Journalism from Danish School of
Graphic design
Lars Koefoed
[email protected]
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