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A recent study by WomanWise – an insight consulting firm specializing in marketing brands to women – finds that in this time of economic uncertainty and global conflict, The American Dream has not gone away, but it has changed… especially for women.

WomanWise’s new multi-generational study of 800 women across the U.S. reveals how they are recalibrating the American Dream. But what’s replaced the quest for fame, fortune, knights in shining armor and white picket fences, and what does it mean for American businesses? Download the executive summary or check out ForbesWoman’s take on the topic.

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From the highlights of BlogHer’s 4th Annual Study of Women and Social Media, and Luth Research’s case study illustrating the marketing impact of integrating research and web behavior, to the insights from the first-of-its-kind study of LGBT consumers by New American Dimensions, research will play a critical role for brand marketers at the 7th annual M2W® – The Marketing to Women Conference, April 13 & 14, 2011 at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Elisa Camahort Page, Co-Founder of BlogHer, said, “In this year’s study we learned that the same woman can be receptive or dismissive, eager to share or holding her cards close to the vest… depending on how and where you reach her. When it comes to effective marketing techniques: Location matters, even online.”

Further illustrating that point, Candice Hinds, Vice President at Luth Research, will present the case of a software company that learns surprising insights about their ad campaign by integrating digital behavioral data. According to Hinds, “With the integrated insights, the software company was able to pinpoint exactly which ad to use for women, and on which website.”

“We’ll help brands better understand and gain a greater, more loyal share of the lucrative Lesbian women’s market,” according to David Morse, President of New American Dimensions. Morse, accompanied by Chris Lehtonen, President of the Asterix Group, will present market research data on Lesbian consumers from the study "Real World Lesbians and Gays," a first-of -its-kind segmentation study of the LGBT market.

Morse, Lehtonen, Hinds and Page will be joined by over 30 other speakers, notably Nan Forte, EVP, Consumer Services, WebMD; Bridget Brennan, CEO, Female Factor and author of Why She Buys: The New Strategy for Reaching the World’s Most Powerful Consumers and Wall Street Journal Columnist Jeffery Zaslow, author of The Girls From Ames.

“M2W® is annually attended by Fortune 1000 senior brand marketing executives,” according to Nan McCann, M2W® producer. “Registration has included companies as diverse as Harley-Davidson, Bayer, Aetna, ESPN, Kraft Foods, Ford, GM, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg, Diageo, Walgreens, Wells Fargo, NBA, Burton, Ampersand AD, L’Oreal, Kodak, ConAgra and Whirlpool. They attend because they recognize the importance of reaching women – who control 85% of all consumer purchasing in virtually every product category.”

M2W® is presented by Associate Sponsors: AOL, BlogHer, Ketchum, PMP, New American Dimensions, Vibrant Nation, General Growth Properties, WE tv, Ask Patty, AutoTex Pink, Wedding Central, Passchal, BzzAgent, WebMD and SheSpeaks; Workshop Sponsors: Marketing Drive, Luth Research, Euro RSCG Chicago and The Kaleidoscope Group; Showcase Sponsors: Carolina Pad, Smudge, Inc., Redbean Society, Varsity, WNBA, NBA, Women On Course, MassMutual Financial Group, Barbie, Meredith Print Advantage and Trek Women. Video Content Resource: Snippies. Media Sponsor: Today’s Chicago Woman.

For complete conference schedule and information visit: www.m2w.biz or call 860.724.2649 x11. M2W® is produced by PME® Enterprises LLC, 216 Main Street, Hartford, CT 06106.

Vibrant_Nation_book_cover “Marketers interested in women understand why the Boomer woman matters. She represents the healthiest, wealthiest, best-educated generation of women in history. But marketers haven’t always known how to market to this valuable and fast-growing demographic,” according to Stephen Reily, Founder of VibrantNation.com, outlining his upcoming presentation for the 7th annual M2W® – The Marketing to Women Conference, April 13 & 14, 2011 at the Chicago Cultural Center.

“Marketers at M2W® will learn how—and how not—to succeed in winning business and market share with this valuable consumer. I’ll draw on research, insights and case studies from the real-life activity and experience at the Vibrant Nation online community, which,” Reily explained, “is the leading online community for women 50+.”

“Vibrant Nation has hosted more lifestage-related conversations among Boomer women than any other. We’ve conducted countless surveys on the interests and buying patterns among women 50+. We’ve partnered with advertisers to learn what makes these Boomer woman talk, click – and buy. I’ll share all these insights in my presentation.” Reily is co-author of Vibrant Nation: What Boomer Women 50+ Know, Think Do & Buy, which he will give to everyone attending M2W®.

“M2W® is annually attended by Fortune 1000 senior brand marketing executives who target women,” according to Nan McCann, M2W® producer. “Registration has included companies as diverse as Harley-Davidson, Bayer, Aetna, ESPN, Kraft Foods, Ford, GM, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg, Diageo, Walgreens, Wells Fargo, NBA, Burton, Ampersand AD, L’Oreal, Kodak, ConAgra and Whirlpool. They attend because they recognize the importance of reaching women – who control 85 % of all consumer purchasing in virtually every product category. Women mean business and brand growth.”

Reily will be joined by over 30 other speakers, notably Marti Barletta, President of the TrendSight Group and author of Marketing to Women; Kelley Skoloda, Partner/Director, Global Brand Marketing Practice, Ketchum, and author of Too Busy To Shop: Marketing To Multi-Minding Women; and Wall Street Journal Columnist Jeffery Zaslow, author of The Girls From Ames.

M2W® is presented by Associate Sponsors: AOL, BlogHer, Ketchum, PMP, New American Dimensions, Vibrant Nation, General Growth Properties, WE tv, Ask Patty, AutoTex Pink, Wedding Central, Passchal and SheSpeaks; Workshop Sponsors: Marketing Drive, Luth Research, Euro RSCG Chicago and Hoffman York; Showcase Sponsors: Carolina Pad, Smudge, Inc., Redbean Society, and Trek Women. Video Content Resource: Snippies. Media Sponsor: Today’s Chicago Woman.

For complete conference schedule and information visit: www.m2w.biz or call 860.724.2649 x11. M2W® is produced by PME Enterprises LLC, 216 Main Street, Hartford, CT 06106.

The importance of connecting with Millennial women has been an M2W® conversation since 2008.  “Millennial women have the power to change everything in the world,” said Gigi Carroll of Draftfcb during her 2008 M2W® presentation.  “They have the power to change everything in marketing.”  And now, according to a new study by Levi’s®, it appears a generational shift in life priorities is truly changing the marketing to women playing field for this new group of women consumers.  Key highlights from the Levi’s® Shaping a New Future study include:

Redefining success and how to get there:

  • Ninety-six percent of Millennial women worldwide list “being independent” as their most important life goal.
  • Last on Millennials’ priority list? Marriage and other more traditional pursuits – being a mother (68 percent), getting married (50 percent) and being wealthy (43 percent), were seen as far less essential in defining success.
  • Not only are Millennial women reshaping what success looks like, they’re changing the way they reach their goals as well. More than half (58 percent) of women worldwide “do not have a definite plan to achieve their long-term goals.” This lack of a “life plan” is precisely what Millennial women seem to relish – and perhaps what makes previous generations so nervous, leading to accusations of Millennials extending childhood into their twenties.

Re-imagining mentorship:

  • While they might not desire a prescribed path, Millennial women do express a need for perspective from other women. To that end, they are re-imagining traditional mentorship – transforming it into a communal exchange that’s two-way rather than one-way, shared among many women rather than one-on-one.
  • In fact, 94 percent of Millennial women agree that “the best mentors are people you can both give advice to and receive advice from.” In addition, 88 percent agree that “a mentor is someone who helps them shape their future, regardless of their age or professional experience,” and 77 percent say that “mentors can be someone their own age.”

In response to these findings, the Levi’s® brand has launched ShapeWhatsToCome.com, a global online community where Millennial women around the world can connect with peers and mentors to shape their futures.  “Since introducing the first pair of women’s jeans 75 years ago, Levi’s® has been a relevant part of women’s lives,” said Mary Alderete, Vice President of Levi’s® Global Women’s Marketing. “Today, young women face more opportunity in their twenties than any generation of women before them. It’s important we understand their mindset and their cultural and societal impact. We truly see ShapeWhatsToCome.com as a community of women changing the world – it’s a global platform of women coming together to share, inspire, grow and shape their futures.”

A new survey of Boomer Women conducted by VibrantNation.com, in partnership with marketing to women expert Holly Buchanan, indicates a dramatic shift in the way Boomer Women think about responsibility for their financial futures—Boomer Women want and expect financial service firms to recognize their independence and their importance as decision makers.  Some other key insights:

  • While almost half of Boomer Women respondents said they were raised to believe a man would take care of them financially, only 3% believe that now with a stunning 97% saying they have to take control of their own financial future.
  • 78% didn’t relate to current images in financial advertising, many of which show women depending on men.
  • Key emotions Boomer Women feel about their futures include fear (52%) and uncertainty (39%) with only 10% expressing calm or security about their financial future.

“Financial service companies that want to help the Boomer Woman maintain her independence need to talk to her directly, not through surrogates like her husband, children or parents,” said Stephen Reily, Founder and CEO of VibrantNation.com. Reily led a roundtable lunch discussion on connecting with Boomer Women during M2W® 2009 and VibrantNation.com is set to be a 2011 sponsor of M2W®.   Added Holly Buchanan, “The language and images used in financial services marketing aren’t connecting with Boomer Women. They prefer images of families (with no clear hierarchy) over images of couples. Terms like ‘feeling financially secure’ and ‘having a comprehensive plan in place’ scored higher than traditional marketing language like ‘wealth management.’”

“This survey underscores the fact that this is a generation of women who want to have as much control over their lives as possible,” said Carol Orsborn, Ph.D., Senior Strategist with VibrantNation.com. “Even those who allowed others to call the financial shots prior to the Recession have now taken the reins. Marketers who ignore this trend take the risk of alienating the very decision-makers they now most need to reach.”

Get more from Reily and Orsborn by picking up their latest book, Vibrant Nation:  What Boomer Women 50 Plus Know, Think, Do and Buy. Also, don’t miss VibrantNation.com at the 2011 M2W®-The Marketing To Women Conference, April 13 & 14, 2011, at the Chicago Cultural Center.

During last year’s M2W®, Jeff Weiss and Deborah Adams of Harbinger Communications gave us insight into how the dynamics of word-of-mouth marketing have changed in the ‘real’ and digital worlds and how the lifestage of a woman affects the way she gets and spreads information.  Now, Harbinger has released findings from their latest study that suggests that not only does the lifestage of a woman affect how she uses off and online forms of word-of-mouth, but product category also plays a vital role in how women seek and spread the word about brands.  So which categories are most word-of-mouth worthy?  The study found women are most likely to share information about restaurants (78%), automotive (74%) and entertainment (72%) and are least likely to share their preferences about fashion jewelry and accessories (30%).  Other interesting nuggets:

  • Nearly three-quarters (71%) of women rely on friends and family when exploring restaurants, but only 41% rely on them when deciding about clothing or fashion.
  • Half (51%) of ‘Singeltons’ (defined by Harbinger as women who are single, usually under the age of 45 without children), but only a third (34%) of ‘Career Graduates’ (women who are no longer working fulltime; over the age of 50, without children living at home) rely on family and friends when making choices about home furnishings.
  • ‘New Moms’ are the most likely to go online first for product information before turning to family and friends to finalize their choice while members of the ‘Back to Me’ lifestage (women with children who have all left home) are most likely to look to family and friends first for information before going online to finalize their choice.

”Marketers need to be aware of how product category and lifestage impact the decision-making process so they can provide women with relevant, useful information where they prefer to find it,” said M2W® speaker Deborah Adams, SVP, Harbinger.  “Our study has provided a general roadmap for reaching women at different lifestages with category-specific messages.”

A recent poll done by the UK Nielsen Media Research revealed that almost half of the online gaming population is female—a statistic that has online casino operators moving to add more female oriented graphics, games and promotions to the mix.  In addition, online gaming brands are being encouraged to create environments just for women such as the new landing page on Casino.com.  “Designing pages like this gives us a chance to do something different in the world of online gaming,” says Mor Zesso, Director of Graphic Design at Casino.com.  “It gives us a chance to focus on what it is that women like.”

Starting with the design process instead of just launching a marketing campaign could be the key to winning with women.  “When it comes to ‘what a woman wants’, there are untapped business opportunities everywhere,” said Heidi Dangelmaier of 3iying and GirlApproved during her 2010 M2W® workshop presentation.   “To really give women something they will love means we need to rethink the entire design process and craft one that is capable of producing stronger products for females.”

According to a new Adweek Media/Harris Poll, if women could be granted one wish to change something about themselves they would choose to be richer or thinner.  In this poll, American adults were asked if they would most want to be richer, thinner, smarter, or younger, a large plurality (43%) professed that they would want to be richer, according to a recent Adweek Media/Harris Poll.  However, it appears men and women view these traits slightly differently.  Although just 14% of both men and women say they would choose to be smarter, that’s the only characteristic they agree on. More men say that they would choose to be richer (46%, compared to 41% of women), while 29% of women say that they would most want to be thinner, compared to just 14% of men who say the same. And while women may have the stereotype of lying about their age, 16% of men say they would most want to be younger, compared to just 8% of women who say the same.

Mary Lou Quinlan, CEO and Jen Drexler, Principal of Just Ask a Woman and co-authors of the recent book What She’s Not Telling You, see these results as evidence of women’s Half-Truth telling—a topic the Just Ask a Woman team spoke about during last year’s M2W®.  Quinlan observes, “While in public most women might claim the Half Truth that they’d prefer brains to money, the Whole Truth (especially in this economy), is that they’d like to be richer. With a little extra cash, they can always study their way to smarter or buy their way to thinner. It’s not politically correct but it’s honest.” Drexler weighs in, “Likewise, we’re not surprised that women chose being thinner above younger. Gen Y, X and Boomer women don’t necessarily want to “be” younger or sacrifice the wisdom that comes with age. They want to “feel” and “look” younger which is often equated to a mythical or real time when they felt happiest with their weight. Leave it to women to find a way to have their cake and eat it too!”

A new study from CareOne Debt Relief Services has found some interesting statistics regarding women and debt:

  • 45% of women seeking debt relief assistance have more than $50,000 in household debt, this is up from 33% just two years ago.
  • The increase in debt greater than $50,000 touched all regions of the country. But four states – Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington – saw more than a 50% increase in the number of CareOne customers with more than $50,000 in debt.
  • More women from upper income households are seeking debt assistance. CareOne has seen a 38% increase in the portion of women seeking debt assistance with an annual household income greater than $60,000.
  • The percentage of widowed and divorced women seeking assistance has risen dramatically over the last two years, while the share of single and separated women seeking help has declined.
  • Women who are retired or nearing retirement are more likely to seek debt relief assistance now than before the recession, while a smaller share of younger women are seeking help.

What can marketers learn from this study?  “The recent recession has impacted almost every family in the country, placing a particular burden on women who traditionally manage a family’s savings” said Jenny Realo, executive vice president and chief product officer for CareOne Services, Inc. “As a result, we have seen a drastic shift in the kinds of people reaching out for help in managing their debt.”

Mercedes and LexusWomen-Drivers.com, a consumer review website that connects women to women-friendly car dealerships, recently released its semi-annual 2010 report showing the top auto brands as rated by women’s dealership reviews.  The report was created by tracking thousands of consumer reviews with regards to a woman’s purchasing, browsing and service experience at car dealerships throughout the U.S.  Top five overall brands of excellence include Mercedes, Jeep, Lexus, BMW and Chrysler.  Other categories and their top five honorees (a complete list is available at www.women-drivers.com)

Top 5 Brands for Purchasing Experience
Mercedes and Dodge (tied for first)
Lexus
Chrysler
KIA
Jeep

Top 5 Brands for Browsing Experience
Mercedes
Mazda
Nissan
KIA
Jeep

Top 5 Brands for Service Experience
Acura
BMW and Mercedes (tied for second)
Honda
Chrysler
Lexus

“Car manufacturers and dealerships that highly engage and support women during the purchase process are placing themselves in a strong position to convert more browsers to buyers, and, to get more referrals—all translating to increased sales. Credit the top performing brands; clearly these companies and dealerships are doing a great job with customer engagement “, says Anne Fleming, president & car buying advocate of the Women-Drivers.com.

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