Marketing to female tribes in 2018: Authenticity, purpose and representation is queen

Your Business, August issue

By Amantle Mokubung

As a business owner, it is important for you to understand that it now takes a village of bold, vocal women who share similar values and beliefs to help position your company. However, this requires of you to be clear and extremely elaborative about your target market. Aware of the level of influence and the buying power that woke women hold, every other company is attempting to lure this market in by attaching the tags “female”, “girl” or “women” in all their campaigns. The question is; how sincere are their campaigns? Consumers will keep digging deeper and will know when you are not being genuine.

Spend less time on crafting the best tag line and more time on the actual activities that build on to your value proposition aimed at women. Remember to articulate the value that you genuinely wish to add to the lives of the women that you are targeting. Be careful not to generalise and make assumptions about your market’s traits, otherwise you will end up with sour reactions from the streets of Twitter that will put your reputation on the line and risk meeting your sales targets.

Women seek personalised experiences, authenticity and representation. This is quite evident in our actions; from us wearing our beliefs as bold one-liners on t- shirts to having the choice of the dolls that we buy for our nieces and daughters reflect what we truly stand for and the values that we wish to pass down to them. Women wish to establish relationships with inspiring brands that speak to who they are, their aspirations and create breeding ground for honest engagements and collaborative efforts towards positively impacting their lives and that of their communities.

I have been part of a discussion that presented the idea of a practical and sustainable Unilever sanitary ware drive for schoolgirls in rural parts of the country, particularly those who have to miss days of schooling every month. The idea of such a programme was sparked by the realisation that black women have remained loyal to the company for decades on end. Personally, I would consciously purchase marked items knowing that a portion of my money directly contributes towards a cause that is close to my heart and impacts those that come after me in my community. This would be driven by the knowledge that my impact as an individual wouldn’t have covered the tip of the iceberg with regards the magnitude of the challenge that the programme would address. It would keep me at ease.

An entrepreneur that I have closely watched for the past couple of months is Gugu Nkabinde, founder of Gugu Intimates; a skin colored underwear range. As an advocate for having a company shoot and develop its own stock images library, I find it refreshing for her having chosen to feature her customers in some of her marketing campaigns and having them share their personal stories. They strongly reiterate the brand’s essence of promoting self-knowledge, individuality, body confidence and authentic representation. The amount of work that goes into setting up the Sip, Shop and Shoot experience with a size measurement service and on-site photography for customers to shoot in their new purchases is probably quite demanding for the business but the most rewarding for customers. Through sharing her brand story as what she terms the “Chief Experience Officer”, it is evident that time and effort has also been invested into designing a carefully thought out customer journey that ticks all the boxes for women women’s needs when shopping for underwear.

Foschini is another brand that seems to have long figured it all out when it comes to marketing to women. They have gone beyond just being a female clothing retailer. Not only have the #SebenzaGirl and The Future Is Female t- shirts played a significant role in street style and fashion in 2018, but the group has also funded the design of corporate identities of female-led businesses in addition to hosting an ‘All Woman’ event for entrepreneurs and leaders in corporate for them to connect and inspire one another.

So what does all this mean for your marketing strategy? Merely directing funds towards your CSI initiative is no longer sufficient. Speak to the heart. Purposefully driven actions are everything. Go beyond just aligning your CSI objectives with your company values (side note: it’s time to do away with the wordy “mission and vision”, keep it real and simple). Whether it’s empowerment, opportunities for gender representation, paying it forward to uplift communities, establishing discussion forums or creating a network of female trailblazers who wish to support one another, find out what matters the most to your female target market and makes them tick.

Remember to make room for more seats at your table – be careful not to alienate your plan from the beneficiaries and the specific women that you target. Women have always been part of the solution; they now do it with brands with a heart. Get to know them and engage with them directly. Consumers love the idea of brands seeing them as individuals, reminding them that they matter the most to the business and inviting them over for thought provoking discussions that unearth new solutions to the challenges that are yet to be addressed