Marti Barletta: Marketing to Women


And Understanding How Male and Female Consumers Differ

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Girls just want to have fun. And that means when women are choosing a wine, it's not about ratings and scores (even when they are sipping some during the Super Bowl -- and you can be sure they were!). It's about context. Who will she be sharing it with? What will
Despite the fact that nearly 64% of all wine consumers are women, most vintners don't effectively target their marketing at females.
she be serving it with? The bottle she pops open during the big game won't be the same one she selects when she is dining with a client.

64% of consumers
Wine consumption in the U.S. has been steadily on the rise for the last decade. It's a natural offshoot of other trends, like an increased interest in gourmet cooking and dining. And who is behind the majority of these sales? Women! They account for nearly 64% of all wine consumers, according to "Wine for Women: A Guide to Buying, Pairing and Sharing Wine."

According to Leslie Sbrocco, author of "Wine for Women," women tend to be less focused than men on wine ratings, vintage charts and the acquisition process and more interested in personal recommendations and who will be sharing the wine with her. She's on the lookout for the perfect bottle to commemorate a milestone or compliment a special meal.

Creating an emotional moment
He is more likely looking for a label (and a price tag) to impress his guests. Bart O'Brien of O'Brien Family Vinyards says, "Women buy wine to be shared, to create an emotional moment. Men often buy wine to be hoarded. They take it back to their cave and save it until another collector comes over. ... It's about scores and history -– it's a little game of one-upmanship."

I've said it before, but it bears repeating. Women notice more details and appreciate more subtle nuances than men. Sometimes it's a learned response but in this instance nature trumps nurture. Females have more taste buds than males which makes them inherently "better tasters," according to Matt Kramer of Wine Spectator.

That attention to detail really plays out when she's looking out for someone else. Women focus on "We not me," and whether she's planning a family dinner or a special event, you can be sure she is going to go the extra mile to serve the perfect wine so that her guests are happy and fulfilled. Perhaps she'll seek out a Greek label to accompany a spanakopita appetizer or serve a California chardonnay that reminds her of a Napa outing. Marketers who recognize these tendencies and incorporate them into advertising and point-of-purchase materials are going to see results.

Female-oriented brands
Until recently wine was generally marketed as gender-neutral or more male-oriented than female-oriented. Over the past couple of years some female-oriented brands like Mad Housewife, Working Girl, Seduction and White Lie have entered the market. Women-specific products are generally not necessary and often backfire with both genders. They alienate men who don't want to be associated with anything "girly" and make women suspicious that the product will be more expensive (think dry cleaning and alterations) or dumbed down and of a lower quality (like flimsy tools with pink handles). White Lie was created to deliver what some women are looking for in a wine -- less alcohol and fewer calories than traditional wine. The others don't offer a tangible benefit and I suspect that true wine lovers will be offended by them.

While vintners may not need to create new products, they may want to think about their messages. I haven't seen many that are going to stop women, who are buying the majority of their product, in their tracks.

What kind of advertisement has female stopping power? Here's a hint: It's not just about the grapes.

The messages that are going to resonate with women are those that focus on people and place the product in context. Women are not going to respond to messages that boast you have the finest grapes or the most accomplished wine master. Ads that position "product as hero" won't get your message across. Forget about ratings and focus on experience. Remember that women are your best customers and that while men may be in search of a bottle with a high rating, women shop with the final experience in mind.


This ad for Spanish wines focuses on the product instead of the prospect.
Bad -- This ad for wines from Spain is not going to divert a woman. Why? There are no people! It focuses on the product and not the prospect. Instead of listing foreign vineyards in the copy, why not build a connection to the product via the people of the country? There is no harm in acknowledging that Spanish wines are unfamiliar, but have people be the educators, instead of having the wine rant about its origins.

Better -- Now we're getting a little warmer. The outline of the bottle embedded in the silhouette of the strolling couple communicates a relationship between the product and the prospect.

Unfortunately, the design of the image makes it unlikely that women will make the connection. Women think more contextually and holistically than men.

The image of a strolling couple speaks about relationships.
They are synthesizers (they put things together) while men are analysts (they take things apart). Perception tests have shown that women have a more difficult time "disembedding" objects from the background. She will likely see a white label and swirling lines but whether she hangs in there and studies the ad long enough to spot the couple walking arm and arm, gracefully entwined with the bottle's silhouette, is anybody's guess.

There is nothing particularly wrong with this ad, but I don't really want to have to work so hard. Is it a wonderful piece of artwork? Certainly. Is it an effective piece of consumer communication? I think not.

Best -- The Premier Cru of this edition's bunch is Cavit. Historically, wine advertising has been about romance, but advertisers are catching on and expanding their repertoire beyond romantic evenings to girlfriend get-togethers like the one featured here.

Women are drawn to images that speak about the social aspects of using the product.
Well done. Bonus points for the casting -- there's a little diversity and these are real women, attractive, but not supermodels. One even looks like she might be over 40 -– imagine!

The slogan -- "A Wine as Intriguing as the Moment" -- works because instead of focusing on the vineyard or on what a great guy the winemaker is, it's about the people enjoying the wine. There is an effort to affiliate the wine with the experience instead of a rating, an expert or a prestige claim. The visual balance between the wine and the people is spot on. This wine ad has the most stopping power. It is going to make a woman take notice because it fits in with her concept of what the socializing and sharing are all about -- great people and great wine. I'll drink to that!

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Marti Barletta's book "Marketing to Women" was released in its second edition this January, and her new book, "Trends," co-authored with Tom Peters, was released in July. Ms. Barletta is president-CEO of The TrendSight Group, a Chicago-based consultancy specializing in marketing to women.

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