The Three Major Demographics for Online Marketers (Part 3): The Importance of Marketing to Women

In the third and final installment of the ‘Three Major Demographics for Online Marketers’ series, the Position² research team looked at the importance of marketing to women and how brands can benefit from one of the largest audiences online. Women, who make up for the majority of users on many popular social networking channels, have established a strong presence on the social web. Snippets from a recent study by ComScore show that:

Time Spent Online

  • The average time spent online by women is 24.8 hours, compared to men who spend approximately 22.9 hours.
  • In April 2010, women accounted for 16.3% of the average time spent on various social networks, as against the 11.7% average time spent by men.
  • Although the number of visits to retail websites were almost the same for men as they were for women, the latter reportedly spent more time actually browsing through these websites.

One of the reasons why we singled out women as one of the key demographics for digital marketers is because of the purchasing power they yield. For instance, sites like Zappos, Groupon (77% female customers), Gilt Groupe (70% women shoppers), Etsy, and Diapers have women as their biggest customers. With the digital space gradually witnessing an increase in female visitors, it was no surprise when social networking newbie, Google+, saw 33% of its traffic driven by women (as of July 14, 2011), a figure that is inching upwards. For brands investing millions of dollars in digital, especially social media marketing, data such as this is proof enough that the female audience needs to have campaigns and marketing strategies that specifically target it. Here are some very convincing statistics that will highlight why online marketers need to leverage girl power:

Facebook and Twitter - Gender Demography

  • 42% million women in the US routinely participate in social media.
  • A new study conducted by Edison Research and Arbitron, The Social Habit 2011, shows that women account for 52% and 54% of the Facebook and Twitter users respectively.
  • A demographic analysis conducted in April 2011, for the European market, indicates that females spent significantly more time (5.7 hours) on social networks than males (4.1 hours) across all age groups.
  • The COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, revealed that women, on an average, have 8% more Facebook friends than men.

For online marketers looking to reach women, the possibilities are endless. However, before crowding the digital space with gender specific campaigns and marketing messages, it is important for brands to understand: how do women spend their time online and what do they want from the web?

    • The Social Expressionistas, Alpha Trendsetters and Shopsessives:

A study by AOL and Bovitz Research Group broadly categorizes web-savvy women into these distinct behavioral groups.

      • Social Expressionistas: These community creators are passionate about spreading the word online and are highly active on social networking sites.

Estee Lauder Facebook Page

  • Alpha Trendsetters: Take their social lives and careers seriously and are very brand conscious. Our recommendation? The perfect target market for markers of luxury brands that aim their products at women, such as Estee Lauder.
  • Shopsessives: Believe they are experts in all areas ranging from fashion to health and are shopping online across all product categories. This group highly influences the shopping decisions of their family and friends.
    • The Discount Seekers:

A study by ChiefMarketer shows that 47% women look for coupons and promotions online; why is that not surprising? The female demographic, which comprises of homemakers, mothers, wives etc, is also empowered financially, with more and more women taking on the role of the breadwinner. However, the coupon searching trait is not so much about saving money, as it is about women who constantly look out for something that intrigues them through the convenience of social media sites. Here’s something interesting; a recent Groupon study found that it was attracting the young, single, educated, female crowd with cash to spend. For advertisers and online marketers, this target group is a goldmine.

Groupon Study

    • The Twitterians:

Twitter, which was largely believed to be used by men, has a growing female user base. According to bloggers Dan Zarella and Darmesh Shaw’s analyses, women follow more people, tweet more, and have more followers on an average than men.

Be it discount seekers, coupon collectors or fashion conscious women, the key to getting the most out of your social media marketing campaign is knowing where your target market is most active and what are the popular trends dictating their online activities. In order to get clarity on your market type (in this case, women) we recommend using social media monitoring tools such as Brand Monitor for complete understanding of your target demographic.

Why Marketers Should Reach Moms

With women being the most frequent users of social media, it is not surprising to learn that moms are heavily into social networking. One of the brands to understand this way before the others could catch up is Huggies. The baby products maker jumped onto the social media bandwagon back in 2009, by launching the Circle of Moms social site (also a Facebook page). The webpage, which includes an expert advice column, a mom-to-mom forum with relevant tips, age specific diaper information etc, was a huge hit with moms. That was a few years back; are mothers just as important an audience for online marketers today as they were then? Some reasons why we think marketers should reach moms online:

  • According to the Moms And Media: 2011 report, a whopping 62% of mothers have a Facebook profile page, while 70% of social networking moms are posting status updates online. This makes mommy “status updaters” an increasingly important part of the continuum of marketing communications.
  • Many brands perceive social-savvy moms as an important demographic because they not just share content, but also listen.
  • When compared to dads, moms are 40% more likely to follow a brand on social media channels.
  • Moms are still primary budgeters and spenders in the household, which makes them VIPs to marketers.

That was the ‘why’ of reaching mothers in the digital space; Let us now look at the ‘how to‘, the understanding of which comes naturally to brands that know precisely what the moms are doing and what they expect from online marketers.

  • Identify the power moms: These women communicate with their families and friends through various social networking channels as well as other mom-specific social networks. YoCrunch Yogurt Facebook PageThey are online paying bills, planning family vacations and downloading coupons.
  • Design Informative Ads: According to an About.com survey featured in eMarketer, 51% of moms said “ads that provide detailed information about how I can use a product” grab their attention. For instance, YoCrunch Yogurt’s integrated social media campaign that targets mothers also features a dedicated discussion space on the brand’s redesigned Facebook page that invites moms seeking product related information to chat with each other and with the brand.
  • Tell a Story: Moms like stories, and social media provides the perfect platform for brands to disguise their marketing messages in the form of interesting stories. This approach, we believe, is much better than simply ‘selling’ something online.
  • Engagement is the Answer: Marketing messages without focus on engagement are like one way traffic. Mothers today expect a dialogue with the brand online; the key here is to encourage your customers for their opinions, complaints and appreciations just the way P&G is planning to do with its ‘Life Well Lived’ campaign on BlogHer.

Marketing to Women: Popular Myths

Whether it is moms or women in general, the stereotypical image about this gender can sometimes lead to the creation of myths that could result in less-than-perfect marketing messages. Here’s a compilation of some typical myths on how to supposedly market to female customers online:

    • Myth#1: Women are technology shy: The fact? More women own smartphones than men and are more reliant and comfortable with technology than they were a few years ago. According to recent studies, 75% of women disagreed with the statement “men are more comfortable with tech than women”.
    • Myth#2: All women are moms: Most marketers simply assume that all women are moms. Designing online or offline campaigns based on this assumption may not yield the desired results. Why? Because they are not targeting the specific demographic. As quoted by the She-conomy blogAll moms are women, but not all women are moms.
    • Myth#3: Women only buy the girly stuff: Going by this belief means missing out on a huge customer base. The female customer’s shopping list in current times comprises of more than just lipstick and high-heels. According to the newly released “What Women Want From the Web Report,” Summer 2010, by Unicast, while women do look for beauty and fashion related products online, around 48% are researching travel destinations, and 59% are browsing for gaming and entertainment products. Our take on this? Women have moved beyond the ‘I love pink and frilly’ phase.
  • Myth#4: It’s all about emotions: While it is true that women are drawn to online campaigns that attempt to make an emotional connection, there’s a flipside to overusing the ’emotion card’. When Hoover vacuums launched their ‘Clean Freaks Rejoicecampaign on YouTube, the company’s aim was to emotionally connect with women who were usually tasked with the ‘after party’ cleaning up. However, the brand’s display of women as ‘neurotic’ and ‘anxious’ did not go down well with the female demographic.


Although there is a significant amount of stereotyping that occurs around women’s interests, especially assumptions that restrict women’s interests to fashion, cooking or childcare, this appears to be gradually changing. The modern marketer understands that female customers are no longer technology shy and are among the biggest buyers of smartphones and other gadgets. Online marketers targeting tech-savvy women should consider designing more apps that cater to the lifestyles of today’s female shoppers.

While there are several myths on how to market to women online, more and more marketers are broadening their horizons and are bold enough to design social media campaigns which, although are gender specific, are unconventional in several ways. Social media campaigns these days are detailed, interactive and seek to engage the specific target audience, who in this case, are women. Women, especially mothers, are interested in having on-going relationships with brands they can trust and ones that understand their needs. It is true that moms make up for a huge demographic online; however, brands need to keep in mind the fact that simply churning out mom-specific campaigns could mean missing out on other female customers, who may not be necessarily mothers, but nevertheless have equal maturity and financial stability. We believe that the modern woman is not your typical customer and most often than not prompts brands to put their thinking caps on; but what we also know is that coupon collecting, the inclination to shop online, and brand loyalty are behavioral traits that have been typical of the female demographic and will continue to be an integral part of online marketing campaigns. Meanwhile, what we are also eager to see is if the female demographic accepts Google+ with the same enthusiasm as they have for Facebook or Twitter. If Google+’s current popularity with the fairer sex continues, this could be a viable platform for online marketers looking to target women.

With this we conclude our three part series on the most important demographics online. Although the three demographics we mentioned, i.e. youth, baby boomers and women, make up for your typical customer base online, these three big subgroups have unique and specific needs and expectations from brands. Take a look at our previous posts on Marketing to the YouTube Generation and Marketing to Baby Boomers for more information.

Team Position²

Team Position²

Position2 is an innovative digital marketing agency that accelerates demand through integrated Content Marketing, Paid Acquisition, and Marketing Technology solutions. Our demand acceleration solutions map the buyer’s journey across multiple touch points such as search, social, mobile, media, and email. These integrated campaigns are powered by cutting-edge content creation, digital advertising, web design/development, marketing automation, and analytics. We serve hundreds of clients ranging from VC funded startups to Fortune 500 multinational firms. Our 200-member team is based in Silicon Valley and Bangalore and consists of marketing gurus, engineers, data scientists, writers, and designers. Founded in 2006, Position2 is backed by Accel Partners.