August 16, 2005
We’ve spent a lot of time here talking about women as retail consumers – and not so much time talking about the other side of the coin – women as B2B consumers. That’s about to change, starting right now.
Here at Woodbine, we’re probably on the far right end of the bell curve for female-influenced business purchases. With two female owners, a female office manager, and a female business manager, there’s obviously a lot of female influence over our spending. But we’re not all that atypical in the fact that we have a woman office manager. Her name is Lori, by the way. And she’s in good company – the stats say that 51 percent of purchasing managers and agents are women.
There are studies out there in the m2w universe that say that women prefer to use the same brands at work as they do at home. That explains why we have nice smelling soaps in our bathrooms – if you ever go to Lori’s house, you’ll understand why…
Add to that the fact that women start businesses at twice the rate of men, and suddenly, we’re looking at this HUGE B2B market that’s predominantly female.
But a recent survey found that half of the businesswomen interviewed said they didn’t recognize themselves in the way women are portrayed in B2B ads. Interestingly, they feel represented in B2B ads – there are plenty of pictures of women in the workplace in ads – but professional women didn’t think these posed stereotypes reflected the multiple dimensions of their days. Why not? Well, here’s one theory: being a professional is only one aspect of our lives and it’s not at all uncommon for us to be also thinking about personal matters while we’re also handling client needs. Men’s tendency to think in a linear way helps them keep work in a neat compartment and keep it from spilling over in to home/personal life. Hmmm, must be nice. Wish I could do that without much effort.
So when you’re talking to professional women with purchasing influence: try to market to the whole woman. She’s bringing all her outside the office sensibilities into the office with her, so be prepared to talk to her in a way that’s not just all-business.