No one has to tell anyone in the home building business that women make the vast majority of home purchase decisions. Women, according to recent surveys, account for at least 80% of purchase decisions in America. When it comes to buying homes, the figure may be as high as 90%, according to a survey by Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies.
But everyone needs an occasional reminder of how to more effectively reach female customers. Patricia Flavin, senior vice president of marketing for Beaulieu Group, a Dalton, Ga.-based carpeting company, provided an enlightening refresher course at SURFACES 2010, drawing on published sources and nine months of recent focus groups with female consumers.
Here are 10 tips from her presentation on how to reach female consumers more effectively.
1. Offer lifestyle solutions. Many women today lead hectic lifestyles, balancing work and parenting. Female shoppers are looking for ways to improve their lives and the lives of others.
2. Simplify things. Buying a home may be the most complicated transaction anyone will ever make. It's important to find ways to simplify the experience. Do the same with your Website. Flavin cited studies showing that when female consumers go online, they are more interested in finding information quickly than in being entertained.
3. Let women know you care. "You need to say in some way, 'I thought about you before you got here,'" said Flavin. That may mean scenting a room with vanilla or lavender.
4. Encourage women to fall in love with home again. You must remember that the home can't be viewed simply as a place to sleep.
5. Create a spot for kids to play while mom shops. For a busy woman who must drag her children to visit stores or model centers, having a place to park them is a godsend. Consider creating a small area for children to play or watch a video while parents shop. "Having a Lego set or a few coloring books can make a real difference," said Flavin.
6. Make shopping a happy experience. Studies have shown that shopping releases mood-lifting endorphins and dopamine. Encountering too much clutter in a sales office or model, though, may be a big turnoff. Same with pushy salespeople.
7. Encourage women to come with a friend. "There are proven studies that show that women who shop together buy more," said Flavin. Friends may give women the reinforcement they need to make a purchase.
8. Give women the freedom to shop around. If men are hunters, women are gatherers, and they want the freedom to browse. Make sure that female customers have an opportunity to look around before salespeople try to close.
9. Listen to female customers. Today's more sophisticated shopper doesn't want to be the object of a marketing campaign; they expect salespeople to listen and respond to them. As speakers at this year's IBS pointed out, social media can be a particularly good way to foster closer interaction with female customers. Flavin showed this hilarious video from Microsoft illustrating the traditional wrong-headed, male approach reaching female consumers.
. 10. Don't treat women as a niche consumer. As Andrea Learned wrote for Inc. magazine seven years ago, women aren't a niche consumer; they are the consumer.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Las Vegas, NV.