The various events and speakers during Advertising Week offered a little something for everyone, whether your bag was branding, personal connections, mobile, broadband, online, or offline. This year, though, a common thread woven throughout the week is the subject of women. This demographic, in fact, appeared to be on the minds of many of the speakers, particularly at the MIXX conference. Topics during the two-day event include “Mom’s Forum: How the ‘Household Manager’ Uses the Internet” and “Women and Interactive Media.”
Perhaps one of the most prominent female-focused discussions was a workshop offered on both days of the conference sponsored by BabyCenter. The workshop, entitled “What Was Old is New Again: A 10 year Retrospective Snapshot of Women Online from User Group to Online Juggernaut,” was led by Jasmine Kim, Chief Marketing Officer for BabyCenter, and Jessica Lilie, Director of Market Research for the company. Both women have been on the tech side of marketing for around ten years and were essentially female pioneers in the early days of Silicon Valley, leading them to categorize themselves as “early adapters.”
At BabyCenter, they routinely examine new and efficient ways to market to women, but for Mixx, it seemed appropriate to take a look back. Days prior to the BabyCenter workshop, Kim explained to ADOTAS that even though the Internet has been around for a while, many of the titans like eBay and Yahoo are celebrating their tenth year, a significant milestone.
In the early days of online marketing, people never really discussed how to actually market or talk to consumers. There was the assumption that if a product was built, people would come. While Kim feels a portion of that mentality remains, today the industry has become less product-oriented and more service-oriented. Her discussion with Lilie at Mixx will examine exactly how improvements in marketing to women have come about and what remains to be fixed.
Of particular interest in their dialogue is what makes women different as a target audience, and just how powerful of a demographic they really are. Both Ms. Lilie and Ms. Kim address the persistent stereotype of women being “technophobes” or “late adapters.”
Technical products and internet services have classically been geared towards the 18-35 year old male demographic based on the notion that women are wary of such technology. “We actually know that that [stereotype] is not the case because women have a different threshold or requirement of what makes them want to use the product or service. [Their concern is] that it’s user friendly to them in a way that speaks to them,” Ms. Kim says. To support this theory, the duo will be discussing case studies that showcase how some companies have successfully communicated with women, which Kim describes as a “juggernaut, critical segment of the marketplace.”
To depict just how powerful women can be as technological consumers, Ms. Kim uses the examples of Webvan, one of the first online grocery delivery services, and Purple Tie, an online dry cleaning service. Both services gave delivery and pickup times that spanned several hours, in the style typical of, say, the cable company. For busy working women and/or moms, there was no clear advantage to using those services. “It was basically offline service online without any clear benefits, efficiency or speed or matriculation,” Kim says. Considering that ninety-five percent of grocery purchasers are women, it’s no surprise that Webvan went out of business while Purple Tie now offers a 60-minute window.