Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Is Marketing going pink?


A careful look at the top executive slots at the blue chip companies show that a good percentage of these positions are occupied by women. When you shift focus to the local best performing marketing, advertising and PR agencies in Kenya most of them are owned by Kenyan women. Eg Joanne Mwangi of PMS, Sue omanga of Exclamation marketing, Jennifer Barasa of Top Image, Jebet Chemngwony Of grey owl, Ms Nyokabi of Marketing strategies and solutions; Generally, women have held their forte in marketing and  corporate PR  not forgetting the queen of PR: Gina Din kariuki. Closer here I sit in a 5member MSA Executive committee headed by a woman with just one man, the rest being women. Being a passionate male marketer in a female dominated profession I sought to know why women beat us when it comes to pushing brands. According to the Women's Success in Marketing Study published in a Brand week cover story ("Break On Through," September 11, 2006 edition), while their climb to upper management ranks within the corporation has been painfully slow in recent years, women are quickly moving up the ladder in marketing due in large part to their decision-making styles. When asked about reasons behind the rise of women in marketing, male and female marketers pointed to gender-associated personality characteristics, women a bit more so than men; Here are some of the few character traits that give women a good chance to succeed as marketers;
Women listen and take time to understand the customer’s needs, listen to their problems and seek ways to fill that niche. Marketing is all about understanding your consumer, which can only happen if you listen;it is fundamentally a challenge of understanding. Yes, later on we create advertising and packaging and other rhetorical tools, but the first and foremost issue for marketers is to understand their consumer and bring that understanding into the organization.
Women favor a mutual’ approach and desire to ‘influence’ which are the best ways to produce a successful marketing programme. They like to build consensus before taking a decision. They are more likely to be cautious and are more concerned about the long term effects of a programme.
Women are more elastic and are more likely to alter a plan if needed. Women intuitively understand that the ‘one size fits all’ approach doesn’t work. Women are much more likely to delve into the intricacies and specific details of a problem. Female marketers are more likely to avoid the centre stage and allow the right spokesperson to represent the brand to consumers. It’s an approach most male marketers struggle with.
Women understand better and appreciate the importance of developing an emotional connection with a brand a fact most men contend with unless we have a beer brand in question. Lastly women have been socialized as "influencers," whereas men tend to demonstrate managerial qualities that reflect a more military-like command and control. However each individual marketer has his/her own operational style, which is usually influenced by the culture of the company rather than the gender. However, except for a few women-specific products, it would be doubtful for her to say that women are fundamentally better than men at this. Sectors like FMCG do have a higher number of women in marketing positions compared to other sectors, it is mostly a function of interest than anything else. And it works well, because most FMCG purchases or major buying decisions are generally made by women consumers.  
I hope that men are taking this seriously; I don’t want to be left alone in the battle front let’s give them a tougher challenge.



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