Wired Women an Untapped Goldmine for Package Goods

Study Finds 'Digital Divas' Spend More Time Online Buying and Talking About Products Than Thought

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BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Long ago, back in the aftermath of the last online bubble, package-goods marketers largely concluded that women didn't want to spend much time talking about their low-involvement products or buying them online.

How wrong they were. Though most women still may not spend much time chatting about toilet paper or ordering it online, it turns out a substantial number -- some 16% of U.S. women who rank as the most plugged-in of their gender -- actually do.

Digital divas by the numbers
22% shop at least once a day

92% pass along information about deals or finds to others

171: average number of contacts in their e-mail or mobile lists

76% want to be part of a special or select panel

58% would chuck a TV if they had to get rid of one digital device (only 11% would ditch their laptops)

51% are moms
They're termed "digital divas" in a study Microsoft and WPP Group's Mindshare and Ogilvy & Mather conducted in the past several months via focus groups, ethnographies, media diaries and surveys of more than 6,000 women.

The study aims at quantifying the importance of digital media for such Ogilvy/Mindshare package-goods clients as Unilever, Kraft Foods and Kimberly-Clark Corp.

Avoiding retreat
Part of the goal, said Graceann Bennett, managing director-strategic planning for Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago, is to help marketers resist the urge to hunker down with traditional media as the economy worsens (and as tried-and-true media such as TV potentially get cheaper).

"Based on this, it would be a huge mistake for package-goods marketers to go back to traditional media," Ms. Bennett said.

"There are women we found who actually have standing orders with Amazon for their toilet paper," said Beth Uyenco, global research director at Microsoft. "You don't need to be top of mind once you're automatic," Ms. Bennett said.

Hauling club-size packs of laundry detergent, toilet paper or diapers on mass transit is impractical, helping make those the three items women in the study hated shopping for most, she said. "One of the things [marketers] can do for some of these busy women is take something off their list."

But while women may not like shopping for such things, they do enjoy talking about them. The researchers found that women speak or write 7,000 words daily compared with 2,000 for men.

"That extra 5,000 words a day can be spent on the digital space talking themselves into loving your brand," Ms. Bennett said.

Higher-than-expected interest
Indeed, when ushered into online communities as part of the study, many of the digital divas began doing so spontaneously. In a survey conducted separately, 76% said they'd be interested in being involved in a brand-sponsored panel, seemingly flying in the face of declining participation rates and the rising costs of online research.

The key, however, is hitting what the research team dubs the "female trifecta" of providing information, entertainment and connection simultaneously.

The last also drives marketing, as 92% of the "divas" said they pass along information about deals and finds, and they have an average of 171 entries in their digital contact lists. And increasingly, they're using search, including mobile search, in their shopping to find products and bargains, said Debbie Solomon, senior partner-business planning at Mindshare.
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