When it comes to marketing to women, food companies have experienced a lot of ups and downs. Outgoing Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi’s “Lady Doritos” musings met with internet backlash, while companies like Burger King are finding unique ways to appeal to the female demographic.
While female consumers aren’t completely different from their male counterparts, certain considerations should be taken into account when marketing food products to women. According to Lisa Mabe-Konstantopoulos, CEO of Green Purse PR, female consumers discover and share food products differently than men do, and they also incorporate them into their lifestyles differently.
Here, Mabe-Konstantopoulos shares her thoughts on how food brands can learn more about their female customers and how they can successfully market their products to women.
Finding a fit within her lifestyle
While “Lady Doritos” weren’t exactly what Nooyi intended with her comments back in January, she did share valuable insight into understanding how products fit into female consumers’ lives. “It’s not a male and female as much as, ‘Are there snacks for women that can be designed and packaged differently?’” Nooyi said on the “Freakonomics Radio” podcast. “For women, low-crunch, the full taste profile, not have so much of the flavor stick on the fingers, and how can you put it in a purse? Because women love to carry a snack in their purse.”
Mabe-Konstantopoulos agrees that women have different considerations when seeking out products, but also that successfully marketing to women isn’t necessarily about creating products specifically for one gender or the other. “The reality is, in the food category, we probably don’t need male and female versions of products,” she explains. “You don’t necessarily have to paint something pink or put ‘for her’ on the label in order to get women to notice.”
“Instead, innovating to create products that fit into women’s lifestyles and routines, in new and relevant ways, is where food brands see success with female consumers,” Mabe-Konstantopoulos says.
Indeed, finding the right fit within her lifestyle can be one of the keys to success among today’s female shoppers. Stonyfield, for example, offers its yogurt products in myriad different formats to make consumers’ lives easier, whether it’s women, men or even their children. Likewise, La Croix markets its Curate flavors, which are available in brightly colored slim cans, as “an ideal on-the-go beverage, as well as a healthy lunchbox addition.”
Another key to figuring out how female consumers tick is constant curiosity, Mabe-Konstantopoulos explains. “That desire to keep a pulse on how women think, behave and buy is critical to innovation,” she says. “Remaining curious about consumers also helps ensure the long-term sustainability of a brand as companies seek for their products to be relevant not only today, but also into the future.”
Getting to know her
Fully understanding the female shopper can be a lot easier than many brands might think. “Whether it’s a small brand that may have zero resources or a big, multinational CPG brand, there are so many things you can do to get a pulse on female consumers,” Mabe-Konstantopoulos says. She recommends asking questions regularly on social media to get a better idea of how women feel about particular products, and even creating an online forum for a brand’s most passionate consumers to give regular feedback.
Mabe-Konstantopoulos is also an advocate of shopping alongside female consumers to get the inside scoop on how they’re finding the products they buy inside the grocery store, and how they intend to use them once they get them home. “You don’t know a consumer until you’ve shopped with them,” she says.
Finally, she recommends that brands take time to learn where and how female shoppers are learning about products before they seek them out in stores. Instagram, for example, can be an extremely valuable discovery tool for food companies who partner with influencers in the space. “What type of blogs or influencers are they learning from?” Mabe-Konstantopoulos asks. “You not only need to be on Instagram but partnering with those influencers or ones very similar to them.”
If you enjoyed this article, sign up for GMA SmartBrief or FMI dailyLead to get news like this in your inbox, or check out all of SmartBrief’s food and travel newsletters as we offer more than 30 newsletters covering the food and travel industries from restaurants, food retail and food manufacturing to business travel, the airline and hotel industries and gaming.