Just because most people are time-starved doesn’t mean they aren’t shopping. The way people — particularly women — are shopping is what has changed. Technology enables women by providing access to detailed product information and reviews, meaning women are more information-entitled than ever.
To maintain relevance, brands need to understand the five tools that can help keep women actively engaged in the retail environment and convert them from being merely shoppers to buyers in-store.
1. Deliver experiential value
Reinventing the in-store experience is essential to keeping up with consumers. Brick-and-mortar should be an exciting destination that capitalizes on its greatest strength: Impulse potential. Consumers like an element of surprise — something worth talking about, and things that add value to their lives beyond the items for which they initially came into the store.
Walgreens capitalized on this insight, and in 2012 this “drugstore” brand became a “destination” when it opened two new flagship stores in Chicago. The upscale outlets feature sushi bars and manicure stations, and at the Bucktown location, vitamins are displayed in the original, massive vault installed by Noel State Bank in 1919.
2. Know where your brand lies on the gender continuum
As gender roles continue to blur, certain channels, products, and brands are no longer strictly male or female. It’s important to know where your brand lies on the gender-role continuum and understand your audience in order to cater to the individual shopper in the retail environment and not strictly the consumer.
According to Nielsen’s “Women of Tomorrow” report, women more than men realize that everything is a compromise — and they are okay with giving up control, but only in some areas. There are certain tasks such as shopping for personal-care items that women want to be responsible for, but shopping for food and household items at the supermarket, they give up happily.
3. Context is king
Without context, content is not nearly as relevant. While many brands may think that content alone is king, it’s actually content in context that is most effective in leading to a meaningful connection with the consumer.
For example, Huggies began creating connections with a woman before she had her baby by becoming an invaluable resource throughout her pregnancy. With its “Mommy Answers” program, Baby Shower Planner tools and Welcome Baby Guide, Huggies implemented a digital relationship campaign that provided expectant moms with the information they craved and in the proper context without pushing Huggies products. When the time came for mom to shop for diapers, the Huggies brand was top of mind.
4. Become BFFs
Remember the power of friendships and honest conversations. Women, especially Millennial women, look for relationships that are built around constant transparency. By having an honest conversation with her, she will view your brand as a trusted source and will become a brand advocate, providing recommendations and referrals to friends and family.
The feminine-hygiene category has always been plagued by old-fashioned perceptions and ridiculous euphemisms, but Kimberly-Clark turned the category on its head by getting real about all things “periods” with its “U by Kotex” campaign. By communicating honestly and openly about feminine-care products, Kotex was able to gain the respect of women, who appreciated the acknowledgement that periods are no picnic. This bold new approach carried over into retail with the brand’s unconventional black packaging that stood out against the pastel pinks and baby blues of the competition.
5. Model the Millennials
They are the largest, most educated generation alive — and a highly influential group.
Take the craft beer movement and the revival in brown spirits. According to a study by Technomic entitled “Special Trends in Adult Beverage (TAB) Report,” they are the key force behind the growth of these segments. David Henkes, vice president of Technomic and leader of its adult beverage practice, contends that “millennials are absolutely driving some of the biggest trends in adult beverages — and will continue to do so for the next few years.”
By leveraging these five tools, brands can truly stand out among the competition and gain significant traction in building brand affinity and loyalty and in driving market share.