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A TCI Book Review

EVEolution – The Eight Truths of Marketing to Women

Faith Popcorn and Lys Marigold
Hyperion, New York, 2000, ISBN 0-7868- 6523-7

EVEolution is all about marketing to women. From a business perspective, the logic behind the book is quite simple and compelling: “Women are different and they have money. So what do I do?” (p. 8) Popcorn and Marigold are the team behind The Popcorn Report and Clicking, both best-sellers about trends in society, and how savvy marketers and businesses can take advantage of them. They brought such terms as ‘cocooning’, ‘cashing out’ and ‘down-aging’ into common parlance, and have sold many a book in the process. Their company, BrainReserve, founded in 1974, they describe as a trendsbased marketing consultancy; it is reachable on the web at either or

Popcorn and Marigold turn their attention here to the considerable purchasing power wielded by women in the USA. According to them:

  • women influence the purchase of over 80% of consumer goods

  • they influence 80% of health-care decisions

  • they buy 50% of all automobiles sold, and play a role in influencing the purchase of 30% more

  • 40% of households with assets of more that $600,000 are headed by women

  • they start new businesses at twice the rate of men (!)

  • female owned and female-run businesses generate $3.6 trillion annually, and employ27.5 million people

The authors aren’t too specific about where these figures come from, but there is little doubt that the distaff side of society is a significant target market. Having established this, they then proceed to articulate 8 ‘truths’ about marketing to women. These are:

  1. Connecting your female consumers to one another connects them to your brand: Some successful brands have appealed to women by facilitating their interaction with one another, and thus sealing their loyalty to the brand, as the ‘medium’ that brought them together. Examples cited include Saturn’s gettogethers, Weight Watchers, and Rosie O’Donnell’s Chub Club.

  2. If you’re marketing to one of her lives you’re missing all the others: “Why is this important to marketing? Because women lead multi-lives, and a marketer, concentrating on only one of them, will miss out on all the others. The answer is to help women integrate their lives more seamlessly.” (p. 42) An interesting (and perhaps counterintuitive, given the company’s stereotypical male orientation) example of this is Merrill Lynch’s Alternative Work Arrangements Group for female employees.

  3. If she has to ask, its too late: Here the authors introduce the concept of Anticipatory Marketing – the idea that to truly win the loyalty of women customers, a company must anticipate her needs, and provide them in advance of her having to ask. Women are much more likely to switch than complain, hence, if you wait for her to ask for new products or services, it’s already too late.

  4. Market to her peripheral vision and she will see you in a whole new light: Women, whose brains are less dominated by the neurotransmitter dopamine than males’, are correspondingly less prone to act impulsively, and thus are less persuaded by the loud clamour of much modern advertising. Rather, according to Popcorn and Marigold, women are much more likely to notice all the subtle surrounding features that comprise a message (including sound levels, colours, smells, images, service touches, etc.), and may seem to ignore or tune out the main message (which of course, is all that men see). The authors refer to this as ‘Peripheral Marketing’ and suggest that all of these types of messages are important when a woman decides whether or not she likes a brand.

  5. Walk, run, go to her, secure her loyalty forever: In other words, you go to her, she doesn’t come to you. Making it ultra-easy for women to obtain a product or service (in these days where time is such a valuable and limited commodity) will pay off in terms of brand loyalty. One example cited is, a grocery home-delivery service, and there are several others.

  6. This generation of women consumers will lead you to the next: Here, the authors introduce the concept of ‘brand me-down’ – the notion that mothers will pass on to daughters an identification or affinity with particular brands of products or services. Because of the special mother-daughter relationship, marketers can develop the next generation of consumers by providing opportunities for mothers to bond with their daughters.

  7. Co-parenting is the best way to raise a brand: “…why don’t marketers recognize that… parenting is part of our basic make-up, and leverage that part of us? That’s what I’m suggesting – that women would want to join a brand that they themselves help bring into the world. I believe that marketers must invite their female consumers into the delivery room to be co-parent at the birth of the brand. And then encourage these female consumers to stay around and help raise the brand to healthy maturity.” (pp. 176,177) The Zagat’s restaurant guides (which publishes ratings by volunteers) is offered as an example of this idea of co-parenting (75% of Zagat’s raters are women). Another example is the development of GE Financial Services, and their development of services specifically oriented towards women owners of business. In both cases, women were involved early in on the actual development and evolution of the business concept.

  8. Everything matters – you can’t hide behind your logo: The final truth relates to the fact that women (unlike men) notice everything, and everything contributes to their image of the brand. Each aspect of the product or service oriented towards the female customer should be consistent and mutually reinforcing of a positive image. Popcorn and Marigold introduce idea here of a fifth ‘P’ added to the traditional ‘4 P’s of marketing (product, price, promotion and place). This fifth ‘P’ is Policy, which governs all aspects of a company’s operation from hiring practices to charitable activities to its position on child labour and the ethical treatment of animals. To women, it all matters, and adds up to w2hether or not they feel an affinity towards the company and are going to use its products or services.

The book ends with the authors’ giving a detailed case study of Revlon Inc. – a company that is in deep trouble nowadays. They show how the company could be substantially turned around through adherence to the eight principles of EVEolution. It makes for very interesting speculation. Revlon should take notice. Written in the breezy Faith Popcorn style, EVEolution is an easy read, and is full of insight and humour. Notwithstanding this, the basic message is sober: companies that want to tap into the highly lucrative women’s market must EVEolve. Companies that fail to do this will be just like species that don’t evolve to adapt to their environment: they go extinct.

TCI’ s Rating: ***




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