Over the years spent as an insight specialist and qualitative research consultant on brands geared toward women, from online shopping usability studies to in-store signage assessment to in-home interviews to understand her wants and needs, I have seen a lot of concepts. A lot of taglines. A lot of companies, advertising agencies, and branding firms trying to find a way to tell women that they have what she needs.
The best recent example was on a personal care/beauty project. I can't of course share with you the corporately developed advertising agency polished concepts, but I can share some of the reactions to them in our collaboration sessions: "Thanks a lot, I'm not that bad now just as I am!" / "That's really insulting, I don't need to be perfect like that to be happy." / "I may feel like that walking out the door in the morning, but don't remind me of it!"
After a few rounds of iterative concept development, we started hearing: "They're saying I have the potential for that and they are going to show me how to get there." / "That sounds like it would help me just put the final polish on, not change who I am fundamentally." / "Tell me what to bring out in myself to feel like that."
The taglines and concepts started acknowledging that women have an appreciation for what they hold inside themselves, what they have to give to the world, and the best version of who they can be. The team learned in the first few sessions that these women want a brand that understands that and helps them bring it out in themselves. This is a stark contrast to offering an artificial facade to cover up who they are, inferring that they have to start from scratch and use their product to get there.
Brands feel friendlier, encouraging, and supportive when they:
- Talk about what they can ignite in their female customers.
- Show how they can help women highlight the traits they are proudest of.
- Describe how women can maximize their skills and strengths.
During personification exercises and projective techniques, I've seen female research participants present brands who know them and believe in them as a "close friend," "the cool woman my age," "the girl at the party you want to be talking to," or the "wise and supporting mentor."
I've seen many brands win by giving women the freedom to express themselves, the tools to make things possible, and the inspiration to break the mold and do it.
Katrina Noelle, as principal of KNow Research, combines in-person techniques with online and mobile methodologies to create custom research designs and ideation sessions for clients in a wide array of industries targeting female consumers. Katrina works with teams and their customers to bring actionable insights to the table, helping brands stay in touch with their target market. www.katrinanoelleresearch.com