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Kaira Sturdivant Rouda, president of Real Living and author of Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs (currently featured in the Review section of M2W® E-ssentials), was the winner of the 2008 Stevie Awards for Women in Business in the category of Best Entrepreneur.  The Stevie(R) Awards are the world’s leading business awards. Since 2004, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business has honored entrepreneurial and executive businesswomen worldwide. For a complete list of winners, visit www.stevieawards.com/women. “It is such an honor to receive this prestigious award,” said Rouda. “Our great team at Real Living is the reason we’ve been able to grow this brand and take it across the country.”  Rouda, a small-business marketing expert, established the Real Living brand in 2001, and the company has grown more than 300 percent since its inception. She knew that women were the driving force in real estate transactions, making 91 percent of the home-purchasing decisions and 85 percent of all buying decisions. And single women are the second-largest group of homebuyers in America, after married couples. This became the basis for the creation of the first national women-focused brand in real estate.  Inspired by the entrepreneurial agents in the Real Living network, Rouda’s book, Real You Incorporated, is about empowering women to turn their personal brand into a unique competitive advantage. It recently received a National Best Book Award. www.RealYouIncorporated.com expands on the topics in the book and features a forum for women to share successes.

M2W® E-ssentials recently heard from Kelley Styring, principal of InsightFarm Inc. and good friend of the M2W® and M2Moms® communities.  As you will recall, Styring took her family on a 5,500 mile road trip this past summer—conducting ethnographies in 7 cities, visiting great American icons and automotive roadside oddities, and immersing themselves in a 2009 Honda Pilot courtesy of the American Honda Motor Company.   Combining this personal experience and ethnology with more than 200 quantitative interviews, Styring is working on her latest book In Your Car:  Road Trip through the American Automobile that will provide an in-depth look into the automotive lifestyle, unlocking innovation opportunity for any company wanting to market to this ‘home away from home.’  She has recently uploaded a video short on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2dGW9wXyLE.  Styring is looking for your feedback on the video and, more importantly, she says, “rate the video so we bump its ranking up!”  Also, check out her blog for highlights of an innovation tool under development, http://www.insightfarm.blogspot.com .

From teenage fashion model to pop culture icon, her famous face and signature style has made her the number one fashion doll in the world. On March 9, 2009, five decades after her debut at New York Toy Fair, Barbie proves that turning 50 is truly fabulous. Much more than a doll, Barbie continues to be a symbol of cultural relevance, continually evolving with women and girls of all ages.  The original billboard for “girl power”, Barbie has inspired several generations of girls to dream, discover and explore a world without limits and continues to find new ways to inspire and encourage the next generation. A snapshot of style and grace through the decades, in 2009, the original fashionista makes dreams a reality for women who played out their love of fashion and beauty through their favorite doll.  In celebration of her 50th anniversary, Mattel Canada has partnered with Canadian designer brands including fashion designer David Dixon, bath and body line Cake Beauty, jewellery house Foxy Originals, home and décor expert Glenn Dixon and retailer Town Shoes to create product lines inspired by Barbie.  Mattel Canada will also give Canadians the opportunity to share their favorite Barbie memories and learn more about the last 50 years on a new section of the Barbie.ca web site, built specifically for her grown-up fans.  “Our program is about paying tribute to Barbie and celebrating her success with Canadian women who grew up loving her,” says Reidin Goode, senior marketing manager, Mattel Canada. “A fashion and beauty icon, we partnered with five key Canadian brands, who, like Barbie are leading the way in their industry and are known for their unapologetic glam.”  This is the first time Mattel Canada has endeavored to reach-out to women who love fashion, beauty and home décor through Canadian partnerships.  “Barbie’s 50th birthday is the perfect time to launch into this market,” said Carmen Martinez, Country Manager, Licensing, Mattel Canada. “We are thrilled to announce these collaborations and are excited to show Canadian women how Barbie has evolved into much more than a doll.”

Since when has donning a fake leather purse held more cachet than a designer Italian handbag? And when has the idea of keeping up with the Jones’ have more to do with a paid-off mortgage than a showcase home? A new MS&L research study, conducted with GFK Roper, reveals that in the wake of societal shifts American women’s definition of “status” is undergoing a sea change. The online survey polled 525 women, with a focus on mothers with kids under the age of 18, single women, and affluent women households to identify emerging trends. Among other findings, the vast majority of women (67%) feel an “animal friendly” faux handbag carries more status than the Italian-designed version. Notably, 68 percent of the survey respondents associate “status” with a paid-off mortgage more so than a beautiful home.  “This research suggests that 2008 clearly marks a major mind shift when it comes to women’s perceptions of status and success,” said Holly Jarrell, MS&L’s global director of insights and research. Jarrell along with her colleague Renee Wilson, deputy managing director of MS&L’s New York office, originally spoke about this new definition of status during the 2008 M2W®-The Marketing To Women Conference.  “Women are not only driving positive changes like going green and doing good works, they are also coming to terms with the current downturn by making the most economical choices look chic.”  Some of the societal shifts MS&L’s High Society research revealed:

  • Parenthood is all or nothing: The proverbial good life was once defined by having two children and a dog, but today a majority of women (54%) agree that people who can comfortably afford to raise more than two kids have really made it financially.
  • Doing good never felt so good: A trend connected to philanthropy has emerged, as 87 percent of women view giving back to society as a “personal sign of success.”
  • Discipline is making a comeback: According to women, discipline-focused success traits far surpass traditional marks of success, including being attractive (64%), having kids (63%) and even having a lot of money (74%).
  • Made in the USA: The much-hyped return of “made in the USA” is substantiated by the survey results, with 77 percent of women saying status in 2008 and beyond is more about being “made and dreamt up in the USA” than “European made and designed” (23%). 
  • Health is the new wealth: Finally, the survey reveals that health really is the new wealth. Among 15 possible symbols of personal success, being emotionally healthy is ranked second among American women (94%), followed closely by being physically healthy (93%).  And 74 percent claim that looking healthy represents status more than looking young (26%).

“This survey shows us that what women find important these days is drastically changing, and marketers should take these findings seriously to understand their target better,” said Wilson. “The ways marketers connect with consumers has to adapt to women’s shifting standards, and this study is a guidebook into the new culture of women,” notes Wilson

On Faith, the joint washingtonpost.com and Newsweek feature devoted to the intersection of religion and news, has launched an online reader discussion group on women and spirituality and values called “Women on Faith.”  “Women on Faith” will be moderated by On Faith co-founder and co-moderator Sally Quinn and Newsweek religion editor Lisa Miller, who have assembled a group of leading women of all faiths and no faith to participate and discuss how spirituality and values play into their lives. Each week, Quinn and Miller, along with the panelists, will pose and answer questions about faith impacting women, and will encourage people around the Web to join the conversation.  Main discussion participants include:  Maria Shriver, Rita Wilson, Melissa Etheridge, Elsa Walsh, Janet Langhart Cohen, Dr. Samina Ahmad, Susan Thistlethwaite, Maureen Orth, Rebecca Goldstein and Queen Noor of Jordan. “Through our work with On Faith, it became clear to us that faith and values play critical roles in a woman’s life, especially when it comes to making decisions about family, relationships, careers as well as selecting the best presidential candidate,” said Quinn. “Creating ‘Women on Faith’ is an opportunity to have an honest, ongoing dialogue about these issues, and we’re delighted to have some of the most provocative women of our time participate.”  Some topics likely to be discussed include marrying someone of another faith, children choosing a different religion, spiritual inspiration and the true meaning of life.  . For more information or to visit “Women on Faith”, go to http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith.

Ann Taylor Stores Corporation has announced that Michelle Gass has been elected to the Company’s Board of Directors. She will also join the Board’s Compensation Committee.  Gass currently serves as executive vice president, Marketing and Category, at Starbucks Coffee Company. Commenting on the announcement, Ronald W. Hovsepian, chairman of Ann Taylor’s Board of Directors, stated, “We are delighted to welcome Michelle to the Board. She brings with her deep knowledge and experience in developing and marketing products for iconic brands, and her background, combined with her consumer-focused and entrepreneurial spirit, will make Michelle a very valuable addition to our Board.”  Gass will bring the number of independent directors on Ann Taylor’s nine-person Board of Directors to eight.

It’s all over the news that the current economic downturn will be affecting holiday spending. However, a recent holiday spending survey of 1,000 consumers conducted by the marketing-to-women experts at Frank About Women (FAW) revealed some surprising results.  Who is most likely to be trimmed from women’s holiday shopping lists? The answer: themselves. According to the FAW study, 62 percent of women are asking friends and family to forgo buying them a gift this year due to the economy. In years past, items that topped women’s wish lists were things that offered “me-time” and self-pampering. This year, women are focusing on what really matters — the gift of time with family and friends.  “Not only are women planning to spend less on others, they are actively encouraging their friends and family to omit them from the gift list this year,” says Nicole Green, senior strategic brand planner at FAW. “This self-sacrificing mindset represents a significant cultural shift as a renewed sense of fiscal responsibility and frugality trump spending and splurging for many women. Marketers who speak to the real meaning of the holidays are more likely to resonate with women this season and benefit from their spending power.”  Adds Green, “While the crowded marketplace will be screaming ‘sale, sale, sale,’ there is an opportunity for brands to focus their messaging on what the female consumer finds most important this holiday and strengthen their loyalties to their favorite brands. We’re seeing a dramatic shift in values take place, and this means new opportunities for marketers to connect with women.”

Recognizing the power of personal recommendations in purchasing decisions, Prevention, partnering with Keller Fay Group, has released a first-of-its-kind report that aims to better understand the influence of word-of-mouth (WOM) communications among Baby Boomer women.  The study, which involved an analysis of the conversations of more than 14,000 women over the course of a year, found that Baby Boomer women (43-62) have higher quality WOM than younger women (18-39)—what boomer women say is more credible, they’re more likely to pass on what they hear to others, they’re more likely to seek additional information and they’re more likely to purchase.  The conversations were collected from April 2007 through March 2008 via TalkTrack®, Keller Fay’s ongoing study of the nation’s word-of-mouth conversations, in fifteen purchasing categories, including Food & Dining, Personal Care & Beauty, Health & Healthcare, Financial Services and Household Products.  The study found that purchase intent for Boomer women is higher than younger women in 14 out of 15 categories including Food & Dining, Personal Care & Beauty and Shopping, Retail & Apparel.  “Drawing on greater experience and sophistication, the social networks of Boomer women are very powerful, whether it is face to face or Facebook,” says Cary Silvers, director of Consumer Insights for Prevention, who led the study.  “In this era of less trust in our institutions, marketers would be wise to pay attention to the power and influence of Boomer women talk,” adds Bob Ziltz, VP/publisher of Prevention. “The credibility factor will be the key issue for any marketers looking to connect with Boomer women.“

Zimmerman Advertising has been retained for services by specialty women’s clothier Lane Bryant(R).  “The Lane Bryant brand has outstanding name recognition and is truly synonymous with plus fashion apparel,” notes Michael Goldberg, executive vice president, chief marketing officer at Zimmerman. “Its position as a leading specialty store spans decades, and the opportunity for Lane Bryant to grow their market share has never been greater. We know that by strengthening its identity as ‘the source’ for both up-to-the-minute and classic fashions that meet the needs of fit, different body types, and the demand for quality plus-size fashion, Lane Bryant can expand its leading position in this important category.”   “Lane Bryant plays a major role in the women’s clothing industry,” says Jordan Zimmerman, founder of the agency. “We know that the talents of our creative team and our ability to help track results of our efforts can help Lane Bryant create real excitement in their leading fashion brand.”

Sony Online Entertainment LLC (SOE), a global leader in online gaming, invited all companies doing business in the video game industry to join SOE’s efforts to educate and recruit more women into the field of video game creation, design and production.  In a lunchtime keynote speech during the International Game Developers Association conference in San Francisco, Torrie Dorrell, senior vice president of Global Sales and Marketing for SOE, challenged companies in the video game industry to each make a $10,000 donation toward the G.I.R.L. – Gamers In Real Life – scholarship, with the goal of creating multiple scholarships and more opportunities for women.  “Today, I am challenging everyone to take action to help level the playing field for women pursuing a career in video games. By donating to the G.I.R.L. scholarship, we can encourage diversity in development and make a difference, hopefully creating more opportunities for women and ultimately making more video games women will want to play,” said Dorrell.  First awarded in 2008, the G.I.R.L. scholarship was created by SOE and encourages female students toward career paths in the creative and applied arts, with the ultimate goal of developing video games that are more interesting for women to play. In 2009, the program will be managed by Scholarship America(R), a leading non-profit educational support program. SOE will offer students of undergraduate programs related to video games a chance to compete for the scholarship by submitting original artwork and essays to a panel of judges.  “SOE’s vision is commendable, and we fully endorse the G.I.R.L. scholarship program and look forward to the results of this initiative,” said Joseph Olin, president of The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. “Expanding the presence of women in video games reflects SOE’s foresight and acknowledges its contributions to the future of our dynamic entertainment medium.”

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