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Crackers…with cheese?

There is no escaping it. The pressure is building. For the next few weeks, it will be nearly impossible to spot an advertisement on your TV which does not include a reference to Christmas. Even if it is just the tinkling of bells in the background, a light dusting of snow or the placement of a bit of holly on the logo, we are all being sold the Festive Cheer.

But this is also one of the best times of year to witness some real classic gender marketing mistakes.

In the marketing world, companies have typically been promoting their products to customers (regardless of sex and gender) in a very masculine way. What do I mean by that? Well, the male brain and the female brain are very different. They are constructed differently, wired differently and they continue to work differently (cue all the jokes about whether one sex’s brain works at all!).

Our evolutionary past has made us this way and it is not going to change drastically any time soon.

But the majority of marketing ‘laws’ were written by male brains and for male brains as they were done in a time when men made up not only the vast majority of the workforce, but also the holders of the family wealth. But this is not the case anymore. In the US now, over 83% of purchases are either conducted entirely by women, or women are the key influencer in the buying process. So, how do we use and respond to this shift?

Well, the smart companies are harnessing the power of gender marketing. By understanding what the different brains want and how they process information, these organisations are selling their products and services in a way which makes it easier and almost intuitive for the relevant brain to respond.

The er…other companies are not. They are still selling things to the female brain in the same format that they have been selling things to the male brain for the last 60 years. This is a dangerous strategy and at this time of year you can see it very clearly.

One of the biggest mistakes that marketing departments make when selling to the female brain is to patronise them or sell them a sugary stereotype. This is particularly obvious when the subject of that stereotype is a family.

As you look at most TV adverts now, ‘families’ are full of clean, smiling and helpful children who are engaged in the conversation and happily eating their sprouts. Is this what your family is like? Especially at breakfast?!

The clever marketing campaigns show us a better representation of reality, something the female brain can relate to and feel empathy with. Just look at the current Tesco’s adverts. Realistic ‘families’, engrossed in their own thing, demonstrating the chaos, embarrassment, pressure, crescendo and ‘lull’ that many of our Christmas Days will become. Yes there is love there too, but not in a cheesy way. In a genuine, touching and hopeful way!

But another of the clever elements that Tesco has drawn on is that you don’t just watch the pictures. In fact I’ve noticed that in our household, something VERY unique happens when one comes on – the volume gets turned…UP. The soundtracks are ‘I Predict A Riot’ by the Kaiser Chiefs, ‘Hello’ by Lionel Richie, ‘Prince Charming’ by Adam and the Ants, ‘Another one bites the dust’ and ‘Best Friend’ by Queen, ‘Take on me’ by A-ha …do you spot the pattern yet? Yes, all tracks which people of the 35-50 year old generation will recognise within a the first few bars (and I don’t mean of a pub crawl!). Recognise and love. The nostalgia is there, but in an extremely clever way.

So, as the Christmas movies and programmes begin to build up, take note of which companies are selling a cheap imitation of what they think we want, and separate them from the ones who know and understand their audience really well. These trend-setting few are using the powers of gender marketing to truly sell to our hearts and minds.

So, all together now…”I predict a riot, I predict a riot…”

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