Consumer insight: what marketers need to know about the New Type A woman
She is your most important consumer and she hasn't been affected by the economic downturn. Nicola Clark unveils a category of female who will shape future brand marketing strategies.
The superwoman is past her sell-by date. The image of the power-crazed, corporate-career woman, having it all at the expense of everything else, is as out of fashion as bankers' bonuses.
According to a research project conducted by Marie Claire, IPC's flagship monthly women's title, the 'New Type A', a fresh breed of empowered, but highly empathetic, female consumers, form the key target market for brands seeking to connect with affluent 28- to 38-year-old women in the UK.
For marketers grappling with the conflicting ways in which consumers are responding to the effects of the recession, understanding the New Type A is crucial for success. A more complex, interesting and demanding incarnation of her classic alpha predecessor, the New Type A represents a significant shift in women's attitudes.
According to the research, this target market of ABC1 women are still feeling good about their lives, achievements and prospects, and are therefore still spending on themselves. They have not been negatively affected by the economic crisis and continue to buy the brands and products that matter to them, according to Justine Southall, the publishing director at Marie Claire.
'This is a hugely important group of women and on the whole they have been one of the groups least affected by the recession,' she explains. 'There is a real sense that they are women who have established themselves and still have their heads up. However, they are very aware that other people don't have it so good.'
Sandra Ferreira, brand manager for Dove Hair at Unilever UK and Ireland, says that this group of women is redefining what it means to 'have it all'.
'These women want a career, family, social life and social media. Their lives have brought new meaning to the word multitasking,' she adds.
According to Ferreira, on a practical level, it is important in terms of branding for marketers to recognise that these consumers are part of an 'endorsement economy' in which they are reliant on recommendations when it comes to deciding what to buy.
'People are seeking advice on Twitter and other social media, blogs and rate-and-review features in magazines,' she says.
Research shows that friends and family are very important to the New Type A – 80% of them agree that women should support each other.
Those brands that market to these affluent women need to accept that the emphasis has shifted away from the individual. In essence, affluent women in this age group are far more collegial than their predecessors and focused on the collective success of their peer groups.
There are signs that some brands are already taking this into account and tailoring their strategies to better connect with them.
L'Oréal adapted its famous 'Because I'm worth it' in the mid 2000s to 'Because you're worth it'. In 2009, after a study of consumer psychology, the brand moved to introduce the 'Because we're worth it' slogan in some markets. Many experts argue that in a broader context, this switch from 'me' to 'we' is key in relation to connecting with the New Type A.
Another key point, particularly in the health and beauty category, is the importance of innovation when it comes to this target audience.
John Frieda launched its Precision Foam Colour range last year to offer 'hassle-free' haircare to time-poor women. It achieved £11m in sales in its first year. Caroline Wilding, senior product and digital marketing manager at the haircare brand, says that these consumers are 'very demanding' and new products are crucial.
Julia Goldin, global chief marketing officer and executive vice-president at Revlon, says that women now have a greater balance in their outlooks and that today's typical female consumer is more comfortable with playing multiple roles. She argues that it is no longer about just going out and conquering the career world or being a great mum or partner. 'Women truly want it all – and they're finding ways to combine it in a very elegant way,' adds Goldin.
Women are actively changing the world around them to better accommodate them, she argues. 'That's what is really unique about women; it's not that they went and competed in the market, it's because they are such a massive target and such a massive driver of the global economy.
'They really are the future of the economy worldwide. The world around them is changing, and they're changing,' she concludes.
Consumers are in such a constant state of flux, experts argue that there are no longer any rules when it comes to consumer insight, and brands must appreciate that the New Type A is a fluid group.
'The concept of having it all has become much more personalised,' explains Rebecca Ironside, qualitative director at market research company SPA Future Thinking. 'The New Type A is hugely self-analytical, far more thoughtful and not simply relentlessly climbing the ladder.'
The research seemingly confirms that this type of woman is ambitious, driven, confident and successful, but also kind, compassionate, fashion-loving and funny.
However, just as marketers may have been misled by the stereotype of the emotionally drained, workaholic career woman, brands should be wary of adopting a 'one-size-fits-all' approach to connecting with the New Type A.
Crispin Reed, managing director of consultancy and design agency Brandhouse, says that a lot of the mistakes made by marketers are predicated on inaccurate stereotyping. 'The time pressures marketers face are huge and the question is, how they really get under the skin of their target market,' he adds.
Some marketing directors claim their intuitive understanding of consumers is accurate. However, many in the research industry complain that, outside the retail sector, many marketing directors are too removed from the realities of their consumers' lives.
One brand that cannot be accused of losing touch is Procter & Gamble (see below). 'The key is understanding the whole life of the consumer,' explains Roisin Donnelly, the company's corporate marketing director and head of marketing. 'It is all about understanding that women don't want it all and to be the boss all the time at any cost.'
Ultimately, then, brands that fail to embrace the 'me' to 'we' paradigm shift risk appearing out of touch and being left on the shelf.
- Women will have two or three careers in their lifetime.
Source: Future Lab
- There has been a major increase in female entrepreneurs in the past 10 years.
- More than four in 10 ABC1 women are their household's chief income earners.
Source: TGI Jan-Dec10
- In 2011, 53% of ABC1 women were single, but there has been a 5% increase in ABC1 women married or living with a partner since 2001.
Source: NRS Jul 10-Jun 11
- Average age for women having first child has gone up from 28 in 2000 to 30 in 2011.
Source: Office for National Statistics
- Consumers have become more price-conscious. Three years ago, 70% of consumers were unable to pinpoint the price of milk to within 5p; today 70% can.
- Consumers are undertaking more planning prior to shopping.
- Many consumers are doing fewer, smaller shops.
- There is still a 'lipstick effect' of sorts, and consumers are still treating themselves with products they really want, such as moisturisers and shampoo.
THE MARKETING DIRECTOR'S VIEW
ROISIN DONNELLY, corporate marketing director and head of marketing, Procter & Gamble
'We have certainly recognised the changing attitudes of a growing base of affluent women,' says Donnelly. 'These consumers love innovation and want to be early adopters, not just in terms of technology but in other categories, such as beauty.'
She adds that it is important not to overestimate the negative impact of the recession on this group of consumers.
'Sixty per cent of consumers are spending more or the same as they were prior to the recession,' says Donnelly.
These consumers prioritise spending on beauty, she adds. 'The key is that we have a portfolio that gives consumers choice. So we are innovating at the top end of the scale with Olay Professional, but also not ignoring the bottom end of the scale.'
Procter & Gamble has tweaked its marketing strategy to better connect with these consumers, who care what experts think, but also depend heavily on their peers for advice. 'We have adapted to our market and invested in more digital activity, blogs and community,' says Donnelly.
The company has launched its own network, Supersavvyme, and is increasing its focus on 'creating a culture of trust' among consumers.
According to Donnelly, positive ratings and reviews on sites like Amazon drive sales of electrical products such as Oral B toothbrushes. 'It is important to have a dialogue with these consumers and engage with them across different platforms.'
THE NEW TYPE A
51% of New Type A (NTA) women are the main income-earner in their household
77% of NTAs say they want to be the best they can in every area of their lives
90% of NTAs say they have varied interests, from fashion, films and travel to international news and events
80% of NTAs say that women should support each other both personally and professionally
73% of NTAs agree that there is 'a world out there waiting to be discovered'
72% of NTAs say looking good is important to them
Source: Marie Claire
The New Type A is important to brands because she is
- An early adopter
- An influencer
- Eager to look good
Marie Claire undertook the research in June 2011. It included qualitative research of 56 women, aged between 20 and 49.
A quantitative survey of 1100 28- to 38-year-old ABC1 women also took place. Of these, 650 were from a nationally representative sample, and 450 were Marie Claire readers.
Nicola Clark is head of features at Marketing magazine. Follow her on Twitter @nickykc
This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk
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