Women customers behave differently. Is that true?
I was reading an article about what women want and how not to give it to them, and it got me thinking. In it, Alice Adams describes the behaviors that derail gender inclusion. To me, they derail effective work overall, man or woman. Further, they prevent an organization from serving its customers.
- Decide not to do an assessment, build a plan, set goals, or establish benchmarks.
- Task a small group of committed, passionate people with designing and implementing a change initiative—and expect them to succeed without a clear mandate, significant resources, intelligent guidance, or visible support from above.
- Start implementation without the support of key people.
- Refuse to assign supervisors specific responsibilities; fail to reward those who follow through.
- Keep quiet about the initiative, allowing it to be perceived as low-priority or to be ignored altogether.
- Let negative talk or obstructive behaviors pass without comment or notice.
- Assume that efforts that are well received in one part of the organization (a mentorship program, employee resource group, or set of educational workshops) will translate seamlessly to other parts of the organization.
- Do the same things again and again, although they haven’t resulted in the hoped-for outcomes.
That pretty much describes much of corporate life in the experience of many, I'm sure. From this kind of environment, you then have marketers who decide that women are one demographic, one big category they will market to and service as if we all acted, thought, and bought in the same way.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Women are different from each other as people. Treating women differently as customers based upon gender biases -- men and women are different -- and stereotyping them as all the same, continues to reinforce those biases, especially since marketing is about exciting people's emotional reflexes.
There is a thriving industry centered around marketing to women. In social media, there are women associations and groups like BlogHer and Mommy Bloggers. Yet not only are many of the women in those groups different from each other, I know many women who would not even fit into those categories, including me. There are plenty of independent women -- married or not -- who choose not to have children, for example.
Some of them choose to have a career, others don't fit particularly into the career thing, nor they're into having a big family. More and more I'm seeing diversity between individuals, not genders. Especially as we all embrace a cultural movement that has us reprioritize what we buy, we're all influenced by economical, functional, social, physical, and mental considerations.
Are women more emotional than men? I would not be able to make this generalization based upon my experience. Do women spend less time online? Again, another generalization hard for me to make given that my work and that of many friends and colleagues centers on social media.
If women buy differently, do they warrant a different treatment as customers?