Marketing to women: could this be a successful crisis strategy for recession-hit companies?

The Economist noticed a few changes in recent marketing strategies of FMCG companies. It seams that in America, where female consumers make more than 80% of discretionary purchases, companies have started to tailor their messages to appeal to women, in an effort to boost sales:

  • Frito-Lay, a PepsiCo fast food company, launched a campaign called “Only in a Woman’s World” in an effort to convince women that such products are suitable for their image;
  • OfficeMax, America’s second largest office suppliers company, has redesigned its notebooks to appeal to women and published advertisements that encourage women to make their personal office space more colourful;
  • McDonald’s sponsored for the first time ever the New York Fashion Week in February, promoting a new line of hot drinks to women.

It is clear that recession has prompted companies to rethink their market approach. The Economist also makes an example out of companies such as Citibank and Philips that, after marketing women consumers, tripled their number of clients.

Even if proven as productive in some fields, such strategies should be treated with care as they may not be successful for every company. Let’s take Porche for example: when they released a sport-utility vehicle designed for women, sales temporarily increased, but men started to move away from the brand as it has compromised its masculine image. Especially for gender-focused brands, marketing to the other side may enhance short-term sales but could cause a longer-term decline.

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