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Are you being authentic?  That seemed to be the theme of the first official day of M2W®-The Marketing To Women Conference.  There seemed to be a time when—as marketers—we wanted to show women nothing but the aspirational.  Yet, according to Draftfcb’s Gigi Carroll, “Those brands that represent authentic value are still finding success” despite tough economic times.  Gigi reminded us all that it isn’t so much talking about a recession as it is talking about a rebirth, a renaissance, a “resetting of our socioeconomic thermostat.”  Isn’t that the truth.  Let’s face it—we are living in tough times.  And what I thought was so unbelievably refreshing about today’s speakers, was the simple fact they recognized the reality, but still gave us a practicality of hope.  That isn’t an easy task—but one they all managed to do and one we should do with our consumers.  “Women play an extraordinary role in driving today’s economy,” said Lauren Zalaznick, President of Women & Lifestyle Entertainment at Women@NBCU, Exclusive Presenting Sponsor of M2W®.  She continued, “Brands need to have the right message, at the right time, to the right segment.”    Here are some key quotes from today’s presentations (I just didn’t have time–or space–to put more than one per speaker.  So much great stuff!!):

Kelley Skoloda, Partner/Director, Global Brand Practice, Ketchum
“We all have dragon’s that blow smoke on our dreams, but you can eventually find your white horse.”

Caryn Carmer, Senior Vice President, Co-Practice Leader & Allyson Clarke, Vice President, Insight Creation, MS&L
“Digital is at the center of women’s conversations.  More than 8 in 10 women gather information from external sources and look for more info or online or they start online and take the information to their offline world.”

Wendy Joyce, Marketing Director, H.J. Heinz Co. & Aliza Freud, CEO, SheSpeaks
“We used WOM as a marketing tool, but found it was also a learning tool.”

Mary Lou Quinlan, Founder & CEO, Just Ask a Woman
“Marketers need to stop selling and start listening.”  

Emmy Berlind, Brand Manager, Clorox – Green Works & Diane MacEachern, Founder, Big Green Purse
“It’s a real struggle to say ‘it’s got be for something that’s perfect.’ There isn’t a perfect, but there’s better.”

Kelley Styring, Consumer Strategist & Principal, InsightFarm, Inc.
“We carry more stuff [in our cars] if we have more people around us and if we have more uncertainty in our day.”

Denise Waggoner, VP of Creative Research, Getty Images
“It’s the ‘Obama Effect’—thinking that hope that transcends everything we are going through.”

Melissa Read, Ph.D, VP, Research & Innovation, Engauge
“In addition to the makeup of our brains being different, men and women have different life experiences that drive our needs and behavior.  Boys and girls engage in different things and in different ways making women more relational.”  

Jory Des Jardins, co-Founder & President of BlogHer; Danielle Wiley, VP, Edelman; Jennifer Cisney, Chief Blogger, Eastman Kodak Co.; Susan Wassel, PR & Social Media Manager, Sharpie®; Tina Sharkey, Chairman, Global President, BabyCenter, LLC; Ian Wolfman, Partner, SVP, imc2
“Conversations are already happening before you show up [in social media].  Should we engage in social media has now been replaced by how much do we invest.”

It’s been a day packed with information, insight and fabulous networking—I have business cards falling out of my brief case and am eager to start implementing so many of the wonderful ideas shared during the presentations, workshops and networking sessions.   Can’t wait for tomorrow!  Keep following us on Twitter #M2W.

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When it comes to advertising, there is no better form of marketing than word of mouth.  According to the 2009 Women and Social Media Study from iVillage, BlogHer and Compass Partners, women are connecting like never before with online communities to do their shopping research and share information. Whether they are looking for a new SUV, a family vacation spot, or the best brand of baby food, women are relying on message boards and blogs for trusted advice.  “This study confirms that women, with such hectic daily lives, want to break through the marketing clutter and get first-hand recommendations about consumer products from their peers,” said Jodi Kahn, Executive Vice President, iVillage Networks. “iVillage – where 8,000 conversations were started during last week alone – is the ideal place to make those connections and share experiences.”
 
Together, iVillage and BlogHer, who form the largest interactive community of women online, conducted the research in partnership with Compass Partners to gather insights on the ways women in the United States use social media tools, such as message boards, blogs and social networking sites, in their everyday lives. The habits and attitudes of 42 million women who participate in any social media activity weekly or more often were measured.
 
According to the study, 64% of these online women polled are posting product recommendations to message boards and articles online.  An even higher percentage, 79%, of women in the iVillage Community are doing so.  Those postings are extremely influential, as 77% of women polled say community recommendations impact their purchase decisions.  Within the iVillage Community, even more women are impacted by online recommendations – 87%.
 
The study also found that in these tough economic times, 62% of those surveyed are comparing prices online more often, and 48% are spending more time online researching purchases.  Specifically, “Millenials” (women 18-26) and “Generation X” (women 27-43), are the largest segments of social media users, representing a powerful audience of moms and other women with major purchasing power.
 
Message boards and forums are women’s resources for “finding out about new products” (47%) and “giving me ideas about how to manage my household” (40%).  Message boards and forums are also used to “get information” (68%), “share opinions” (70%), “seek advice, recommendations” (49%), and “provide advice, recommendations” (49%).  Also, women who post to message boards enjoy influencing their communities.  80% of those who post to message boards report investing time searching for new products online and 53% agree they are on the leading edge of new trends.  Among those surveyed, topics that rank high include Parenting (70%), Pregnancy/Baby (71%) and Health/Wellness (71%) as key message board topics.
 

About the Survey:
 
The study compared two cells:

  • A general population sample consisting of a sample size of 2,821 U.S. women aged 18 – 77 years, weighted by key age breaks to be representative, of which 1,505 qualified as “active” social media participants who participated weekly or more often. The margin of error at 95% confidence = +/- 3.0%
  • An iVillage sample, consisting of iVillage website intercept sample of 788 respondents. The margin of error at 95% confidence = +/- 3.5%

 
Both portions of the study were conducted in March, 2009. The data is comparative.  Responses from two cells were not combined. 

“Women 55+ are the fastest growing demographic using Facebook.”  That is just one of the many social media truths I discovered during today’s Pre Conference Workshop during the 5th Annual M2W®-The Marketing To Women Conference.  I came with my laptop charged and ready to learn all things social media during this workshop that was sponsored by imc2.  Their team of experts—Malinda McFarlane, Kristi Maynor and Tim Rumpler–along with One2One Network’s Barbara Jones, did a wonderful job of taking us through the various social media tools that brands can use—and included such valuable information as who is doing it right, who isn’t paying attention and how do you measure and track your results. 

Probably one of the greatest lines was Rumpler saying, “Just get started.”  With so much information about the various social media platforms and tools, it is easy for brands to just assume it is all too complicated—or too much of a fad—and just choose to not participate, but that could quite possibly be a pricey mistake.  “You always have to be listening,” says Jones.  “Even on the weekend, you need to be paying attention to what others are saying about you and your brand.” 

The “social media consumer” is quickly just becoming the consumer—or more specifically, becoming a person (what a novel idea!).    Just as we build our personal relationships by connecting and communicating with our friends and family members, so must we do the same with our customers and consumers.  It’s about participating in the process, advancing our efforts and listening to our audience—continuing to do all three at all times. 

As marketers we are being challenged to truly practice interactive brand management—which includes always being engaged and moving people from being our fans to being lifelong advocates.  Powerful stuff—and this is just the first event of the 2-day conference!!!

 After lingering over questions, we all managed to make our way downstairs to celebrate the launch of Kelley Skoloda’s new book, Too Busy to Shop, during the Preconference Reception.  It’s just like a homecoming—seeing faces I always like to see and hearing stories I can’t wait to share.  Even as my feet started to ache from my “big girl shoes” (why must I always sacrifice comfort for style?), I didn’t want the evening to end.  It is exciting to be surrounded by so many great marketing-to-women minds—can’t wait to see you all tomorrow!!!!

Be sure to check back tomorrow evening for another update from M2W. Or, follow us on Twitter at #M2W.

Jon Lancaster Toyota Scion is pleased to announce they have completed AskPatty.com’s Certified Female Friendly training and are Madison’s first Certified Female Friendly location. To achieve certified status, their personnel completed a total of over 50 hours of online training on how to better meet the expectations of the woman consumer.  “Up until now, like most dealerships, we thought the obvious goal was to ensure that women were treated the same as men. Through the AskPatty program, we’ve learned that treating women the same as men does not result in the ideal experience for women. This may not sound profound, but with an increased awareness of what elements women seek in a positive automotive purchasing and servicing experience, our dealership is better prepared to meet and exceed the expectations of our female customers,” Joe St. Marie, vice president & general manager.  An Ask Patty certified dealership creates an inviting and comfortable environment where women feel welcome. They guarantee that the experience of purchasing and maintaining a vehicle will be a pleasant one. Ask Patty trained and certified dealers are held to a high level of customer satisfaction with women consumers.  Along with the certification, Jon Lancaster has enhanced its website to cater more to women, thereby reinforcing their commitment to the Ask Patty Dealer Program. This latest design integrates seamlessly with the existing dealership website for their vehicle lines and provides a platform to effectively deliver online information and services to female consumers.  The new website can easily be found and accessed utilizing the Certified Female Friendly web icon on the existing Jon Lancaster website. The site provides a host of features to assist women through the automobile purchasing process. The narrated credit application and online pre-approval process allows women the opportunity to get pre-approved for a loan before visiting the dealership, ultimately saving them valuable time.  Being Certified Female Friendly helps automotive organizations build, develop and maintain a high-performance workforce aimed at improving communication with women by offering virtual interactive training that transforms workforce performance management into an ongoing, dynamic process.  “Women are not the same as men, and they do not make purchasing decisions in the same way as men. Women not only communicate differently, but also buy differently. Business Week reports that women make over 80 percent of the buying decisions in US households today. In effect, they have become nearly every family’s chief purchasing officer,” says Jody DeVere, president and CEO of AskPatty.com “Businesses that do not change their approach to communicating more effectively with women will get left behind and leave themselves open to being over-taken by their competitors.”

While it’s been well documented that women have been cutting back on everything from clothing to grocery bills in the current economy, a new survey suggests that giving up some everyday luxuries may be out of the question. The survey(1), conducted on behalf of Degree Women Fine Fragrance Collection, a new sophisticated line of body mists and matching anti-perspirants, revealed that nearly two out of three (63 percent) women feel forced to make some tough choices and give up the small things that make them happy when money is tight. However, there are some indulgences women refuse to go without.  According to the Degree Women survey, it’s the small indulgences that are non-negotiable. At 40 percent, chocolate tops the list of must-haves women do not want to sacrifice, followed by their morning coffee or latte (35 percent). And although women have trouble forgoing chocolate cravings, it’s beauty that trumps all. Nearly six in ten women (56 percent) would give up their sweet treats to be able to afford their favorite beauty products and nearly seven in ten (66 percent) women would rather give up their favorite heels before giving up their favorite fragrance.  Additionally, women say they will go the extra mile for $100 to splurge on something fun, including more than half willing to wear “granny panties” (54 percent), half giving up sex for two weeks (49 percent), almost half going without shaving their armpits (42 percent) and even a small group of women would go so far as to kiss a friend’s ex-boyfriend (18 percent)!  To help women find ways to have it all – without losing a best friend or subjecting themselves to unattractive unmentionables – the new Degree Women Fine Fragrance Collection is partnering with actress and fashion guru Lindsay Price, star of NBC’s acclaimed series “Lipstick Jungle.” Price is spilling her secrets on savvy cost-cutting techniques and when to give in to the urge to splurge on  http://www.degreewomen.com.  In addition, Degree Women will make an in-kind donation to Dress for Success, an international non-profit organization that provides professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help disadvantaged women thrive in work and in life. The donation will help promote economic independence and make a lasting impact on women nationwide.

There’s a movement afoot across America. People are getting back to basics and learning to rely on each other for help, comfort and support. WE tv recognizes both the call to action and the current challenges faced by women nationwide. Illustrating “what a difference a day can make,” WE tv has launched WE Volunteer (www.WEVolunteer.tv), providing women and the people in their lives with the tools and support needed to help their communities — even in the smallest ways, even for just a day. Several partners have joined WE tv’s campaign to encourage volunteerism and are offering incentives for participation.   

  • VolunteerMatch, the web’s largest and most popular volunteer network, powers the search engine for www.WEVolunteer.tv
  • ESSENCE Magazine, the premiere lifestyle, beauty and fashion magazine for African American Women, offers discount tickets for this summer’s popular Essence Music Festival.
  • Step Up Women’s Network, a non profit mentoring organization for teenage girls, offers a six month complimentary membership which gives access to special events
  • Ladies Home Journal, the popular women’s magazine whose philosophy is “look good, do good and feel great,” offers discounted subscriptions
  • Stila Cosmetics, the innovative cosmetics company, offers a 10% product discount on their website.  “Stila is so thrilled to partner with WE tv and its WE Volunteer campaign,” said Stila’s CEO, Deanna Kangas. “Stila is a brand that celebrates and honors good will and volunteerism, and we are so pleased to partner with WE tv for such an altruistic cause.”

WE Volunteer is the latest campaign of WE Empowers Women, the network’s four-year-old public affairs initiative dedicated to fostering issues that impact the lives of women in the home and workplace.  WE tv has also created powerful PSA’s, now on WE tv, driving home the message that volunteering doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In developing WE Volunteer, WE tv viewers were polled in January to identify what issues were of greatest importance to them; the results named the economy, education, healthcare and the environment as the top causes viewers 18-49 years old see as critical. The first two PSA’s address these issues.

Mary Kay Inc. is celebrating 20 years of recycling efforts during Earth Month this year by completing a reforestation project in a national forest during two days in April, thanks to compact recycling efforts by its nationwide Independent Beauty Consultants and their customers, as well as the company’s employees. Through its Pink Doing GreenSM Compact Recycling program, Mary Kay Inc. exceeded its 2008-2009 collection goal of 200,000 old compacts, succeeding in its pledge to add 200,000 trees to Bitterroot National Forest, the largest expanse of wilderness in the United States, which the U.S. Forest Service identified as in need of replanting. The 200,000 trees donated by Mary Kay fulfill the entire planting need in Bitterroot National Forest for 2009.  Mary Kay partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation for the reforestation project.  “This commitment by Mary Kay to plant 200,000 trees in a national forest will have a positive impact on the planet for generations to come,” said John Rosenow, chief executive and founder of the Arbor Day Foundation. “These trees will clean the air and water and will restore important environmental benefits to the area. We are pleased to be teaming up with Mary Kay to restore a portion of this forest.”  The replanting efforts in Bitterroot National Forest, an estimated 1.6 million acres of forest land across the southern Montana-Idaho border, will begin April 28 and are expected to be completed within two days under the direction of the U.S. Forest Service.  “Sustaining the environment for future generations is an active priority for Mary Kay that we take very seriously,” said Mary Kay chief scientific officer Dr. Beth Lange. “We also recognize the importance of working with communities at the local level and the power of engaging our global network of Independent Beauty Consultants.  We have already seen success and impact with our Compact Recycling Program on a national scale.”  Since initiating one of the country’s first comprehensive corporate recycling programs in 1989, Mary Kay Inc. has been seeking new ways to empower women with opportunities to enrich their lives and their communities. The Mary Kay recycling program has been embedded in all corporate processes and will continue to adapt with the company as its sustainability efforts grow and change. As Mary Kay’s official corporate sustainability program, the Pink Doing GreenSM initiative will strive during 2009 to incorporate environmental improvement efforts that empower women to make sustainability commitments in their own communities. Mary Kay also plans to continue the Compact Recycling Program through July 2009.

Chris Brogan, president of new marketing agency New Marketing Labs (which is home to the New Marketing Summit conferences and New Marketing Bootcamps) recently gave a video review of M2W® presenter Kelley Skoloda’s new book, Too Busy to Shop.  In addition to thinking Kelley’s book is one that is “filled with really great information about real core stuff involving behavior and mindsets behind marketing”, Brogan says, feels it is the type of read you can take “into your office, shut the door, get out a notepad, and come out wanting to change at least 40% of what you’re doing with marketing, if not the whole thing.”  Click here–http://www.chrisbrogan.com/–for the review—which also includes a review of Geoffrey Miller’s Spent:  Sex, Evolution and Consumer Behavior.

According to two new skin care surveys, women are not scaling back on their anti-aging skin routine, despite the current state of the economy. The Economic Impact on America’s Skin Care Habits, sponsored by Obagi Medical Products, Inc.  reported that many continue to spend their hard-earned money on favorite at-home regimens, continuing with regular visits to the doctor and sacrificing other luxuries in order to do so. Further supporting this study, a recent article in Global Cosmetics Industry (GCI) magazine published a forecast from Mintel that stated they expect a 20% increase in anti-aging skin care sales over the next five years.

The Economic Impact on America’s Skin Care Habits survey found the majority (98%) of women 25-54 years of age surveyed who see a dermatologist or plastic surgeon for their skin care needs say that they currently spend up to $500 a year on facial procedures and half (50%) would be willing to spend up to $300 on a personalized skin care regimen. Yet even those women who are still spending money for in-office procedures at their dermatologist or plastic surgeon’s office, are looking for ways to save money. According to the women surveyed, such savings come in the form of choosing a professional skin care regimen that helps to extend and enhance the benefits of their in-office procedures.  Other key findings:

  • Over 50% of women 24-54 years of age surveyed who see a dermatologist or plastic surgeon for their skin care needs say they are extending the time between their doctor visits to save money in the current economic climate;
  • Half of the women 25-54 years of age surveyed who see a dermatologist or plastic surgeon for in-office procedures say they would be willing to try a personalized skin care regimen that extends the benefits of the in-office procedures;
  • 41 % of those age 35-44 surveyed are the most likely to have cut back on other areas of their life, such as child care and money spent on groceries, but maintained the amount of money spent or the frequency with which they visit a dermatologist;
  • Among those respondents who do consult a dermatologist or plastic surgeon regularly for their skin care needs, 88% say they visit a dermatologist, 13% visit a plastic surgeon and 13% visit some other type of medical professional; and
  • More than nine out of ten respondents who are age 18-34 or 45 and over say they see a dermatologist regularly. Over a quarter of women age 25-34 see a plastic surgeon regularly

Spotted: Four real girls taking you behind-the-scenes of their gossip-worthy New York lifestyles in a new video series “GOSSIP GIRL: Real NYC Stories Revealed,” produced in partnership by Dove go fresh and GOSSIP GIRL. The video series will air during episodes of GOSSIP GIRL on The CW, beginning April 27, 2009.  It will introduce four girls sharing their real stories about growing up, surviving and succeeding in New York City. The video series will give GOSSIP GIRL fans a glimpse into the real lives of four young women who lived in the same Manhattan hotbed as the GOSSIP GIRL characters, while revealing real life stories about juggling careers, love, finances, family and friends. These four real girls are sharing their stories in hopes of encouraging all 20-something girls to live life with a fresh perspective and inspire others to pursue their dreams. GOSSIP GIRL star Jessica Szohr is partnering with Dove to promote this new program to celebrate the launch of the new Dove go fresh Burst Body Wash.  “As the number one rated show among 20-something women, GOSSIP GIRL gives us the perfect opportunity to share inspirational stories from four real girls who have taken risks to pursue their own life passions,” said Kathy O’Brien, Dove marketing director. “We hope these stories encourage a new generation of women to view their lives in a fresh perspective and to define their own versions of success.”

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