Saturday, February 17, 2007

Women, marketing and consumerism

According to a new book, Inside Her Pretty Little Head, women ultimately control the levers of modern business.

But will this recognition stop women acting like an 'oppressed minority'? Will it stop them saying that 'men rule the world'?

Women's modus operandi is rule through stealth. Rule by appearing not to rule, by appearing weak and powerless. For example, notice the title of this book. It deliberately references a phrase that is designed to patronise women. So whilst the thrust of the book's message is: women are a powerful force in the marketplace, this message has to be packaged within a title that makes women look like the victims of male chauvanism.

Oh well, let businesses try to become ever more effective in selling women crap they don't need. I'm quite happy for men to escape from the hypnosis of consumerism.

However, I suspect even though this book claims to be based on scientific evidence of how women think differently to men, it still won't be effective as the authors might not have such a great grasp on what the research truly shows. For example, in the blurb about it that I've read online it trots out the usual cliche about women feeling alienated by ads which show beautiful and slim women. But while this is a cliche in marketing surveys, I remember recently seeing research which showed that ads which showed fat women made ordinary women feel WORSE about their bodies! Why? Because it pushed the issue of being over-weight into their faces and made them more self-conscious. Yet when questioned by a typical market research survey or focus group, I can imagine that many women just automatically parrot the idea that they dislike seeing slim and pretty women in ads. They will have heard this point made many times before, and in such market research people tend to automatically repeat what they have heard before, or what they think they are expected to say.

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