Why Mindfulness Matters in Marketing to Women

Five Tips for Brands for Using Mindfulness in Marketing

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Want to try a fun social experiment? Try introducing any of these topics into your next social gathering and see what happens: public breastfeeding, freezing your eggs, the pressure to "have it all," feminism, the mommy wars or even Caitlyn Jenner's recent Vanity Fair spread.

It's no secret that being a woman in today's world is complicated territory. The media in particular love to drag women's issues into the spotlight and fan the flames to stir up as much controversy as possible. Embracing a deeper and more nuanced understanding of women's daily realities is hugely important for marketers trying to connect with women in an authentic way.

How mindfulness can help marketing
As a concept, mindfulness -- the practice of paying attention to the present moment in a focused and nonjudgmental way -- is nothing new. Buddhist monks have been practicing it for over 2,500 years and many Western doctors have embraced mindfulness techniques as a way of treating stress and depression.

But recently, mindfulness has gone increasingly mainstream. Whether it's a reaction to our "always-on" lifestyle or a response to the increasing pressure to live up to the perfection we see in the media and in our social networks, women are turning inward to bring more awareness to their present moment and block out any external noise.

Examples of mindfulness in our present culture are everywhere. The Huffington Post named 2014 "The Year of Mindful Living." Celebrities ranging from pop star Katy Perry to mega-athlete Lebron James have gone on record to extol the benefits of mindful meditation -- shooting down any stereotypes that mindfulness is only for hippies or vegans. Millions of people have downloaded meditation and mindfulness apps. Even corporate America is in on the action, with Google offering meditation training courses and the U.S. Army using mindfulness principles as part of basic training.

But mindfulness in marketing is still relatively unexplored territory and represents a rich opportunity for brands to connect with their female audiences on a deeper and more authentic level.

Here are five suggestions to get you started:

1. Start with your brand. Before you communicate anything externally, look internally first and think about your brand story. What is your role in the mindfulness conversation? Could your brand help consumers become more mindful? Or are you one of their many distractions?

Buick ran a digital campaign in support of its Regal GS, in which it encouraged drivers to be #InTheMoment and engage in life instead of being buried in their smartphones. While the cultural insight felt timely, the role for the brand was minimal and the work ultimately felt like more of a general PSA than a brand statement.

2. Be wary of jumping on the "McMindfulness" bandwagon. Remember greenwashing? Or even pinkwashing? "McMindfulness" is no better. Look for an authentic way to participate in the cultural conversation about mindfulness. Slapping on a mindfulness label could disrespect the daily and lifelong effort that people are making to become more mindful and present.

3. Never lecture your consumers or make them feel bad. The last thing people want is a lecture from a brand about how they're missing the mark. Instead, look for ways to encourage them or even just acknowledge that this is important to them. Remember why mindfulness is growing in popularity in the first place and that a little empathy goes a long way.

4. Remember that mindfulness doesn't just have to be about meditation and yoga. Women are looking for ways to make more thoughtful and meaningful choices in all areas of their lives. For example, two particularly relevant areas are eating (the rise of "intuitive eating") and parenting (an increase in "slow" or "mindful" parenting). Think about the interactions your brand has with your consumers and how you might help them become more present in those moments.

5. People are looking for ways to be more present in their daily lives. Think about ways your brand can offer consumers more than superficial transactions. How can you offer them a more meaningful experience? How can you build a deeper relationship?

Ultimately, the word "mindfulness" may not show up anywhere in your brand communications or brand experience. But understanding why mindfulness matters and how women are embracing it in their everyday lives will lead to a better and more authentic connection between your brand and your target consumer.

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