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First, Best, or Different

Niche Marketing Matters
By John Bradley Jackson

Negotiation and the Gender Divide

March 6th, 2012

Though there are many exceptions to the rule, most women don’t like to negotiate.  According to Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, authors of “Women Don’t Ask”, women are more likely to equate negotiation with “going to the dentist.”  By contrast, many men speak of the act of negotiation as similar to “winning a ballgame.”  Why is there such a gender divide?  It has to do with our existing (and mostly outdated) social norms as well as many women’s self-fulfilling prophecies when it comes to negotiation.

Babcock and Laschever say that 2.5 times more women than men feel “a great deal of apprehension” about negotiating.  They are much less likely to aggressively negotiate starting salaries, raises, or the price of a car.  Women stand to miss out on a great deal of income over their lifetime if they fail to negotiate their salaries.

Women’s low expectations are often their downfall.  In a climate where women already don’t earn as much as their male counterparts, it is especially important for women to negotiate salaries and raises.  The days of sticking with one company, or let alone one career path, are over.  In today’s environment, we can change jobs, companies, and fields of work multiple times throughout our lifetimes.

How can we motivate women to negotiate more?  A study released in 2010 by UCLA and University of Washington professors suggests that women who use fear as a motivation tool can negotiate more effectively.  In the study, men and women played a simple game and were told they would be paid a negotiable amount based on their performance.  The subjects would watch videos designed to make participants feel angry, fearful, or neutral.  Men made to feel fearful were actually less likely to initiate negotiation, while fearful women were more likely to instigate negotiation and ended up with more money.

Eleanor Roosevelt, one of the most influential women in the 20th century, said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”  The key to conquering something we find intimidating is to simply lean into the discomfort and practice what scares us.  If you find negotiation to be anxiety-provoking, desensitize yourself by negotiating small things first.

Find opportunities to be assertive and decisive, with your coworkers, family members, and strangers. Yet, seek to understand the other party’s needs. Strive for an agreement that allows him or her to get what they want, while you get what you want. A great deal allows both parties to walk away happy with the prospect of doing business again.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2012
All rights reserved

 

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Marketing with Gender Stereotypes

February 17th, 2012

Boys like blue and girls like pink.  Men like football and women like romance novels.  Gender is pretty straightforward, right?

It’s actually much more complicated.

For example, what would we find if we were to look across time and space to discover what it means to be a man?  During the Renaissance era, only the manliest of men sported tights and frilly collars.  In China today, affluent businessmen carry leather purses as a status symbol. It quickly becomes clear that gender expressions vary immensely between cultures.

Because we know that gender varies across time and geographical location, it is safe to say that it is primarily a social construction. Gender is a meaning system created by society that slips into every facet of our lives.  It is through gendered social norms that we learn how to act in every social situation.  From birth, we are taught how to behave within the confines of our designated gender: male or female.  Our walk, talk, dress, and emotional expression are all informed by this binary system.  Though it may be harmless, baby girls do not inherently prefer pink to blue.

Today, an overwhelming amount of products are gendered.  Such gendered commodities include alcohol, clothing, toys, furniture, automobiles, books, magazines, films, and even food!  It is usually easy to pinpoint, while walking through Wal-Mart, which products are feminine or masculine.  Even though it is a social construction, gender weighs in on almost every purchase we make as consumers.

What does this means to marketers? Gender stereotypes are real because we perpetuate them and accept them. One option is to accept this “gendering” (I think I have invented a new word) of products as the status quo. Essentially, marketers can use the gender stereotypes as a tool to market more products by offering everything in pink for the women customers. Men get burlap.

Alternatively, firms could choose to be different by offering messages that buck the gender norms. This is based on the premise that there may be large segments of buyers that are not getting what they want. This could include women that desire high performance sports cars and older men who want make up to look more youthful in the workplace. Something tells me that these other markets might be bigger than the stereotypes might have you believe.

For some interesting examples of gender stereotypes please visit the Society Pages.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2012
All rights reserved

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Women on the Web

March 24th, 2008

A study by Yahoo! and Starcom/Mediavest Group offers some interesting insights about women and how they interact with the web. The survey interviewed 1199 women about how they use the Internet. Here are a few of the findings:

• The Internet is the preferred media among women and is the 4th most time intensive activity behind work, sleep and time spent with the family.
• The content most popular with women includes subjects relating to news, weather, finance and games – items not found in most popular women’s magazines.
• Women’s online spending habits are increasing and they are also using websites extensively to make decisions before purchasing in the offline world.
• Average time spent actively online each day was 3.3 hours.
• If offered only one choice as to a source of news, information and entertainment, 65% of women surveyed chose the Internet.
• 43% of the women surveyed make regular online purchases.
• 58% stated convenience as the major motivator for shopping online.
• The web is not a spare time activity for the women surveyed and it is accessed at various times of the night and day.

What this means to marketers is that women need to be recognized for the dominant decision maker in consumer and B2B markets that they are. Women outnumber men 51% to 49%. Women make the major decisions in households 75% of the time. Women account for more than 50 percent of stock ownership in the US and by 2010 they will represent 50 percent of the private wealth in America, or about $14 trillion. By 2020 that number is expected to rise to $22 trillion.

Step aside men, women are in charge.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2008 All rights reserved.

(Source: Yahoo! Inc.)

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Marketing to Baby Boomer Women

November 28th, 2006

Author Marti Barletta recently coined the phrase “Prime Time Women” to describe women over 50 years old, which she says “was an attempt to move away from the misleadingly negative connotations of phrases like “mature women” or worse, “middle-aged women.”

Here is some quick math from her book “Marketing to Women”: “From 1992 to 2020, the number of people age 50+ is expected to increase 76%, while the number under age 50 will decrease 1%. Americans 50+, while “only” 27% of the population (36% of adults 18+), nonetheless control 50% of the discretionary spending. Per capita, they spend 2.5 times as much as younger consumers. They own 70% of all the financial assets, including 80% of all the money in U.S. savings and loans, and 66% of all the dollars invested in the stock market.”

If you have read this blog with any regularity you know that the aging society is a major marketing mega trend. Hidden within that expanding demographic is the fact the money is also shifting (or, has already shifted) to women. In fact, it is estimated that 80% of the spending decisions in the typical dual earner household are controlled by women, regardless of age.

More compelling is the longer life expectancy of women (currently, women now live 80.1 years, compared to men at 74.8 years per the Center for Disease Control). This puts them in charge of the bulging estates created by the passing of their male spouses, along with the wealth from “baby boomer” parents (parents of babies born from 1946 to 1964) who are slowly dying off. In a nutshell, baby boomer women are in charge of most of America’s personal wealth.

This means that the prime time customer for many businesses is now baby boomer women. This includes financial services, real estate, health and medical, automobiles, consumer goods, etc. Yet, most firms don’t get it since many are still messaging their products and services for the man of the house (i.e. the older infirmed fellow in the rocking chair wearing “depends” who looks to the lady of the house to make all the financial decisions).

For the entrepreneur, this shift of money and power to boomer women is a major trend that is ripe with opportunity. If you sell to consumers and are not targeting boomer women, you need to reconsider your marketing strategy.

Get it?

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2006 All rights reserved.
Please visit my website at www.firstbestordifferent.com

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Women Hate Negotiation

November 24th, 2006

I recently read “Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide”, a book written by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever that explored the subject of women and negotiation. I was frankly shocked by the findings in this book.

The simple premise of the book is that women are poor negotiators and they avoid negotiation like the plague. They hate it. Why? The authors suggest that it is mostly role based programming; girls are trained early in life to be conflict avoiders and peace keepers. Negotiation is for boys.

The book offers the following insight:

• 2.5 times more women than men said they feel “a great apprehension” about negotiating.
• Men initiate negotiations about four times more often than women.
• When asked to describe negotiation, men said it is like “winning a ballgame” while women said it is like “going to the dentist.”
• Women will pay as much as $1,353 to avoid negotiating the price of a car, which may explain why 63 percent of Saturn car buyers are women.
• 20 percent of women say they never negotiate at all, even though they recognize negotiation as necessary.
• Men are four times more likely than women to negotiate a first salary.

The negative consequences to this lack of negotiation are very measurable:

• By not negotiating a first salary, a woman stands to lose more than $500,000 by age 60
• Only 10.9 percent of the board seats at Fortune 1000 companies are held by women.
• Women own about 40 percent of all businesses in the U.S., but receive only 2.3 percent of the available equity capital needed for growth.

Optimistically, when women are given the right training and “programming”, they negotiate just as well as the men. Or, better. The authors believe that the training starts in the home and must be reinforced in the schools. They argue that a negotiating strength for women is their capacity for empathy; women can better understand how the other party feels in a negotiation (compared to men who can be obsessed with winning at all costs). This empathy enables women to structure win/win agreements more naturally then men. The role models are there. Look at Condoleeza Rice, or remember Margaret Thatcher.

As the father of two daughters, I take this message to heart. It is clear to me that I need to encourage them to take risks and negotiate. I need to send a signal that it is okay to seek conflict to resolve issues and that they both deserve to get what they want. Finally, I need to teach them that negotiation is fun.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2006 All rights reserved.
Please visit my website at www.firstbestordifferent.com

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