Marketing to Women in the Trump Era

marketing to women in the trump eraWith the election of Donald Trump, marketing to women just became a minefield.

One of the top reasons why women buy a product or service is because they believe that company shares their values.    Women have been known to give business to or boycott a brand based on whether that company acts in  accordance with or against those values.

The Values Lens

Women (and men) have always made decisions based on their values.  The Values Lens has always been a driver of purchasing behavior.  So what’s changed?  The Values Lens is front and center in her purchasing process in a way we have not seen in recent years.   Be ready for an increased level of scrutiny of everything you do.

The Big Game advertisers are certainly facing that scrutiny. The new balancing act is the focus of the USA Today article Super Bowl Ads in Trump era:  Play it Safe.

Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, points to a country that is polarized by a bruising election campaign and a simmering anger that lingers in the land.

“We are obviously in a very tense social moment,” Thompson tells USA TODAY Sports. “Most advertisers are not going to want to do something that could be provocative to a large part of a population that’s in an already provoked state.”

While the current advertising climate is fraught with peril, it’s also fraught with opportunity.

Brands are speaking out about their values

While some companies are doing their best to stay out of the fray, others are jumping in in a very public way.

Starbucks announced they will hire 10,000 refugees resulting in #BoycottStarbucks and #BuyStarbucks campaigns.

The CEO of Ford went on CNN to talk about the company’s core values and their opposition to Trump’s travel ban.

Lyft and Uber are in a massive public perception battle.

The CEO of Nike wrote a company wide email that has gone viral.

While these kinds of public positions are not unusual, as Hobby Lobby and Target can tell you, they are becoming more common and more divisive as consumer value lenses  become more intense.

Why marketing to women is going to be especially tough

There are differences in general between men and women and how they purchase products and services.  In my work, I’ve seen first hand that understanding those differences can have a real impact on your success.

But the idea that you can market to all women the same way has always been false.   Women are not some monolithic group with the same ideas, values, goals and concerns.  Right now those differences are being highlighted in a very public way.

What’s exacerbating the situation is this expectation that “as a woman” you should hold certain values or vote a certain way.  (Which is ludicrous by the way).  Those expectations are causing a huge sense of betrayal between the two sides.

What is a brand or company to do?

How to market to women in the Trump era

As I noted, there are perils, but also opportunities for companies who truly understand The Values Lens of both sides of the political spectrum.    Women are the majority of purchasers and a lot of business is going to be up for grabs in the coming year.    Here’s how to position yourself for success:

  • Look for intersecting values held by both sides (yes, there are common values).
  • Understand how to frame your values (and that is the secret, to frame it as a value not a position).
  • Highlight your values as a competitive advantage if you can demonstrate or create the perception your competition does not share them.  (See Lyft vs. Uber)
  • Know what her most dangerous triggers are and create a strategy to avoid them.

I’m doing extensive research on this subject as we speak.   If you’re interested in learning more, let me know.

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