The differences between female and male brains have always been the subject of study for anthropologists, psychologists and, more recently, for neuroscientists. We all agree women are better at multitasking, while men have a higher ability to focus on one goal and proceed with perseverence to its achievement. We know that women tend to pay attention to details, while men tend to see the big picture. In marketing, details like this can make the difference between winning or losing, while we witness the rise of the women-driven economy. At the Neuromarketing in Retail conference, Miss Marketing author Mabel Nummerdor explained why retailers have to take into account these differences when outlining their strategies.
Most of the behavioral research is dedicated to male behavior, especially when it comes to negative situations. In medicine, for example, most of the tests are made on men, mainly because women react differently according to their hormonal phases. But isn’t this worth taking into account when developing a new medicine and writing the prospect of it? From the genetic perspective, gender is a very interesting concept. For example, men are 98,7% similar to a male chimp while the gender differences between men and women are 1,5%. One could say that men are as different from women as they are from chimps! “This difference is definitely worth taking into account in marketing business”, Nummerdor emphasized during her presentation.
In order to get the best out of these differences in marketing, you need to start looking at cultural differences and correlate that with neuro-scientific facts. At the neurological level, the differences between genders were basically explained through the hemispheric dominance theory: women tend to use their right hemisphere more (emotions and pragmatic thinking), while men operate mostly in the left hemisphere (analytics, mathematics, critical thinking etc.). We now know that that theory is a myth. The differences between male and female brains stand in the neurological connections of the brain, and women have more white matter than men. “They are also connecting both hemispheres, which makes women see all the details. The memory region of the brain is bigger in women, while estrogen serves as a neurotransmitter for emotions – it basically glues emotions to memories. That’s why a woman can recall all the details of a story and she can even remember how she felt at that moment”, says the author of Miss Marketing.
So, women want to buy a car, a perfume, organize a party or go to the mall mostly because they have emotional reasons for that. They also have longer shopping lists than men. They are better at interpreting facial expressions, so if you want your product or brand to sell, make it look like a person. The basic instincts such as conservation and reproduction are also expressed differently – men tend to be more competitive, while women try to connect and build strong relationships, therefore developing higher empathy levels.
Men have to concentrate on themselves in order to be different and be noticed; women tend to concentrate on the others. According to a study cited by Nummerdor, men use an average of 900 words a day while women use 2900! Women have a preference for symmetric communications – when two women talk, they automatically talk about things that they have in common. Men start to talk about things that are different about them. They also tend to talk more about things than persons, while women talk more about people and they tend to spend more words on people they like. On the other hand, women are more inconsistent: they have more hormonal changes each month, than a man has in his whole life.
When marketing products or services, you have to toss around these differences, and if your target is feminine, make your product human and help them relate to it through emotions, rituals, reflections of the things they value in their real lives. Women have higher expectations, as they tend shop more consciously. Small details, (shopping and also cultural) context, emotional engagement, meaning or nuances in the message are usually parameters that count when it comes to women’s shopping decisions.