Faith Popcorn is still percolating with EVEolution, her third book
after The Popcorn Report and Clicking.
This one explores marketing to women - as in Eve, the original one. I was
prepared to hate this book. It just rang too cute. All those references to
EVEolve, EVEangelical, EVEsdropping. We're talking about EVEolution. Are you
with me? It's a shtick.
That said, Popcorn, who runs a marketing consultancy in New York called
BrainReserve is a real presence in the business world and has been for the
past two decades. She is not to be dismissed lightly. She's got a roster of
big-time clients that makes your head spin, ranging from BMW to IBM to
Nabisco. When Popcorn speaks, they listen.
This time she has taken on the task of telling marketers how women think and
how they should sell to them. Within a decade, the companies that do the
best job of marketing to women will dominate every significant product and
service category, she predicts.
"The way women think, act, and react is greatly impacting the culture," she
writes with co-author Lys Marigold, BrainReserve's creative director for 12
"Women and men are as different shop-ologically as they are biologically,"
the authors write.
The bottom line is that women today have economic power, and corporations
and marketers who want to succeed better figure that out.
Read an Excerpt
EVEolution: What It Is, How It Works, Why Your Business Can't Survive Without It
A Pop(corn) Quiz:
Go ahead. Explain it.
- Explain why the Web has a long list of successful "Women Only" sites--and why there are no comparable communities for men.
- Explain why the take-out-foods industry (home meal replacement, to marketers) has changed the eating habits of Americans over the last five years.
- Explain why home spas and other pampering products have gone from a niche for the rich to class for the mass.
- Explain why industrial appliances and professional cookware are the "must haves" for the home kitchen.
- Explain why door-to-door selling is booming, with over 7 million female salespeople, more than double the total employee base of the top ten companies in America.
- Explain why kids don't dress like kids anymore.
- Explain why women have created a $9.8 billion pharmacopia of alternative medicines.
- Explain why organic foods have moved from an esoteric sliver position to become a major force in the marketplace.
Is there any unifying explanation? I have come to realize that there is. One fundamental reality underlies all these marketing phenomena.
A single canopy insight explains it all: EVEolution. And marketers don't understand its power and its inevitability.
EVEolution is a series of marketing axioms built around the reality that women and men are as different shop-ologically as they are biologically.
It's a profound realization. And it makes EVEolution the essence of successful marketing to females for the decades to come. Ready or not ready: EVEolution means that all you've learned, studied, and thought was sacrosanct will be replaced by a new marketing mantra.
We've organized EVEolution into Eight Truths that reveal how to understand, reach, motivate, and sustain the loyalty of the female customer.
And that is the force behind this book.
I'm convinced, based on everything I know and believe, that EVEolution is the most powerful marketing principle ever developed for understanding and motivating women.
EVEolution guarantees success, if you get it right. Or your biological blueprint for disaster if you mess up. EVEolution will change forever the way products and services are developed, marketed, and distributed, period. Beginning (and end) of story.
In short, these Eight Truths represent the foundations that will define the new marketing to women. Each Truth was identified and defined and enriched through an ongoing dialogue with thousands of women (and men) across the globe. Individually, the Truths are powerful. Together, they can change your world.
I recognize that EVEolution will encounter some resistance. Habits die hard. Traditional business defaults to the familiar; it's easy, comfortable, and bonus-building to rely on old business models, outdated templates, yesterday's strategies. That's why every market-shifting idea I've had that ran against the tide, from the Trends of Cocooning (my prediction in the disco-dancing '80s that people will be returning home) to Pleasure Revenge (a defiant turning away from guilt and self-denial) was originally pooh-poohed, laughed off, and otherwise dismissed. Now, these identified societal Trends are accepted marketing dogma that are studied at business schools around the world.
I'm used to skepticism. But even so, all the business leaders I've talked to know that somewhere, somehow something is very wrong with their marketing approach to women. I can see it in their body language (pulling back, fingers tapping, eyes shifting). They recognize, deep down, that women are different from men. They know it's true from their real lives and their experiences. But they keep on marketing to them in the same old way because they don't know exactly how to change, what is needed, or where to begin.
This book will show the how, what, and where of marketing to women. And it will make it crystal clear why American business, and in fact, global business, needs to change. It will demonstrate why the traditional approaches for reaching women must be:
1. dragged into the Recycle Bin (today's computer metaphor of choice) or
2. tossed into the Circular File (the quaint paper-based metaphor of my youth)
As the EVEolutionary Truths challenge conventional thinking, you'll find something invigorating washing over you. It's intellectual refreshment. You'll be inspired to explore the new marketing pathways. To redefine what a brand is, what it represents, and what it can be.
I've worked hard to bring the Eight Truths alive with case studies and real-life examples of EVEolution in action (or in-action), as well as future-focused examples of just how powerful and effective EVEolved marketing can be. If your brand is a poster girl for counter-EVEolution, I'll apologize in advance for being tough on you. But won't you want to know before it's too late?
Those of you who've read my other two books, The Popcorn Report and Clicking, know that I tend to be pretty direct (it's my style). And I've learned that sometimes, most of the time, it's the only way to make a point.
So if you think EVEolution is something your company can relax about and put off for a while, I've got some important news for you. YOU CAN'T. EVEolution won't wait. Understanding EVEolution and implementing it (the most difficult part) means the difference between building healthy brands and profitable relationships with women...or building a flimsy, fluffy foundation with no future. And the latter inevitably leads to decreasing market share, eroding loyalty, plunging earnings, unhappy shareholders, early retirement.
Women Don't Buy Brands; They Join Them
If I had to summarize the Eight Truths of EVEolution in a single sentence, it would be this: A customer of the moment is the one who buys your brand; a customer for life is the one who joins it.
Think about it. The things we join--clubs, political parties, organizations, even religions--are the institutions in our lives that really matter. The ones we stick with through thick and thin. The ones we cherish and value and grow old with.
These institutions that women join are also a vehicle for meeting people, building relationships, finding like-minded people. We all know how women are gifted at finding the common ground, at identifying the ties that bind rather than the differences that divide.
Is it over-reaching to think that a brand...your brand...can fill an EVEolutionary role? Not at all. In our blurring, shifting, spiraling society, all roles are up for grabs. And I believe that in this, the twenty-first century, the dominant brands with women will be the brands women join.
It's a mind-altering experience. You'll need to think about your brand more expansively, more deeply than ever before. It isn't a tweak. It's a tornado. But you don't have to cope alone. This book will help you construct an entirely new framework for brand-building. It's not a book about theory, but a practical solution for understanding and implementing the Eight EVEolutionary Truths.
There's something else really important that I want to reinforce. Most mainstream marketing books are about the One Big Idea, the Global Solution. The 115 mph ace that spectacularly ends the tennis match. EVEolution works differently. You'll soon see that EVEolution isn't about a single corporate overhaul. It's not a magic bullet. It's a systemic redefinition that leads to dozens and dozens of subtle shifts and fine alterations.
EVEolution is about a cascade of changes. It reminds me of F. Scott Fitzgerald's definition of "personality" in The Great Gatsby as "an unbroken string of successful gestures." The sheer depth and breadth of EVEolution makes it a revolution with profound implications--not just for marketing, but for the way your business is structured, financed, organized, and managed on a minute-to-minute basis.
How to Please a Woman
At one time or another, all men (including John Gray in all his Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus books) have railed at the heavens, trying to figure out what would make women happy. Most of the time, their plaintive questioning is used to underscore the issue that pleasing women is an amazingly difficult, almost impossible task. We are, or so it appears in the popular press, impossible to satisfy in our capriciousness and emotional volatility.
Beyond being insulting, it simply isn't true. I'm not a psychologist or even a pop-psychologist, so I am not a licensed expert about what women want out of life. But I am tenured in interviewing, positioning, and marketing to women. I'm secure in my knowledge and understanding of what women want out of the companies and brands they share their lives with.
Women want a brand to extend into their lives in as many ways as possible. They want a brand to speak to their heads and their hearts. To understand them. To recognize their needs, values, standards, and dreams.
They want a brand that doesn't say, "Tough luck, that's not our strategy," but that says, "Tell us what you want and we'll make it our strategy."
And what women don't want is just as important as what they do. They don't want to do business with an organization, a company, or a brand that condescends to them. That inconveniences them. That makes them wait, argue, or defend themselves. They don't want one that establishes the wrong role models or exploits the wrong kind of imagery.
Do men want the same things? Not necessarily. While many men--particularly younger ones--are becoming EVEolved, it is the differences between women and men that are at the core of EVEolution. And the Eight Truths are based on this fork in the evolutionary road.
The EVEolution Moment: The longer you wait, the farther behind you'll fall
Two forces--one economic, one biological--have come together to make the next two decades the onset of the EVEolved Era. The first is the economic power of women. Let's face it, if we were back in the warm bath of the Ozzie and Harriet 1950s, and women represented a small portion of the economy, no one would pay attention. But it's the next century, and women are the dominant economic force in the country. You've probably heard some of these statistics individually. But their power as a group is exciting--and chilling to those in EVEolutionary dinosaur-land. So here goes:
- Women buy or influence the purchase of 80% of all consumer goods. That includes 51% of consumer electronics and 75% of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. Women also influence 80% of all healthcare decisions.
- Automobiles are no longer the male bastion they once were. Women actually buy 50% of all cars and influence 80% of their sales. While once it was men who drove the computer market, now women buy 50% of all PCs. And in perhaps the most powerful symbol of economic clout--stock ownership--consider that 48% of stock market investors are women. Half of all women own mutual funds. By the way, by the day, these numbers are zooming. And in families where both spouses work, wives outearn their husbands in 22.7% of these households. Did you realize also that 40% of households with assets over $600,000 are headed by women? So ignore at your own risk.
Even though I'm sure you get the point, here are a few more statistics. Women start businesses at twice the rate of men (every sixty seconds), for a total of 9.1 million of them. Female-owned and female-run businesses generate $3.6 trillion annually and employ 27.5 million people--more than all the Fortune 500 companies combined, in America.
This is a ton of purchasing power. An influx of influencing power. Which is why marketers want to lock in on their female target. Except there's one major stumbling block: Although they know they should reach women, they don't know how to market to them. Big problem? Big opportunity.
The second reason that EVEolutionary marketing is so critically important is the biological one. Women are different from men. Very different. Like all the great truths, it's simple but complex. Women perceive the world through their own gender. It's a matter of genetic imprinting.
The point is that women process information differently because our brains are wired differently. We hear, acquire, and use language in our own way. Which accounts for the fact that girls generally speak earlier than boys, articulate their feelings more easily, and see themselves more as links, not as loners.
This isn't just interesting cocktail party patter. (Try it and you might get a very dry martini in your face.) It's wild in its implications. Yet it's a subject that never comes up in any marketing plan or strategy session. And that's not surprising. Tell a marketer that he needs to develop a program based on the neurological differences between women and men and he'll get a panicked look in his eyes.
This book will turn that blink of panic into a long and hard stare of opportunity.
Women are different and they have money. So, what do I do?
Here's the world as it stands. We know that women have greater economic traction than ever. And we know that women can't be approached by using the same traditional strategies that have worked with men.
But what's next? How does a company, a brand, a service, turn its business around and become more relevant to the women who will decide its fate?
This book, with its Eight Truths, will provide you with the keys to unlock your EVEolutionary future.
Remarkably, even shockingly, this subject has been virtually ignored by writers and business journalists. This has been one of the biggest business gaps (and gaffes) of the decade. Drop by your local Barnes & Noble (or check out their Web site) and you'll see what I mean. You'll find a vast acreage of books about the ways women differ from men. You'll find fields and fields of books on marketing theory. But never do the twain meet. Marketing to women is a big and echoing void.
Publishers are not the only ones who overlook the subject of marketing to women. There isn't a single course at Harvard or Stanford Business Schools or the Kellogg School of Management on the subject.
The answer is simple: Fear. After years of listening (or at least partially listening) to the Women's Movement, men have become hyper-paranoid about anything that smacks of gender stereotyping. It just hasn't been politically correct to think about, talk about--or worse, capitalize on--the differences between women and men.
Things are about to change. It will become safe (safer, anyway) to identify, analyze, and celebrate the distinctions between women and men. And to develop products and programs that women will need and want and relate to and own.
The truth is that the failure to explore the EVEolutionary road has set marketing to women back about two decades. It's time to make up for lost time. And lost business.
EVEolving to EVEolution
As many of you know from my other books, I am a futurist. A trend-spotter. A cultural detective. My detective agency is BrainReserve, a marketing consultancy like no other. I started the company in 1974, many futures ago, with a Creative Partner (and Art Director), Stuart Pittman.
Our idea was to help companies understand the future, so that they would be able to build and secure a place for themselves in it. It seems so basic: How can you build a successful strategy unless you understand the world that is evolving? Unhappily, with the time it takes companies to develop products, most end up marketing to the past.
In 1978, Lys Marigold joined us as our Creative Director, and thanks to her analytic acumen and uncanny instincts, we began to name and frame our Trends. Soon after, we developed a 36-step proprietary methodology that enables us to create a vision of the future. This broad vision, which we call a FutureScape, is built through the careful execution of the BrainReserve process, and allows us to position or reposition global brands.
We use tools like our TrendProbes, highly imaginative ideation sessions where we encourage consumers to think beyond the moment. We also rely on our computerized, global TalentBank, 6,000 female and male experts who represent the best and the brightest and the brainiest--from bio-engineers to Indian chiefs to great chefs to political leaders who help us Braille the Culture and anticipate SocioQuakes long before they make the national news.
It was through BrainReserve's work with the Fortune 500 that I began to realize how neglected the female market truly was. On one hand, I watched as the stories and the statistics that tracked the economic power of women kept going through the roof. On the other, I would sit in meeting after meeting where women were described as a "niche market" or as a "segment" or a "special interest group." What an upside-down, inside-out take on the world, I thought.
I began interviewing thousands of women, exploring their thoughts about brands. The technique that we used was to ask them to personify their favorite companies and brands (being candid about their strengths and their weaknesses), as if they were good friends. We also probed for any differences between the way women shop vs. the way their husbands or boyfriends or brothers do.
These TrendProbes unearthed surprising insights, interesting twists, and unexpected flashes of clarity--the best of which we used to build this book. Because women love to share their experiences, and are committed to making their world a better place, these interviews were revealing and rewarding.
Read EVEolution front to back. Or back to front.
Most books--it's safe to say almost all of them--are written to be read front to back. (Except in the Middle East and Asia, of course.) EVEolution can certainly be read that way. But that's not the only way. In the spirit of women, who are nonlinear and approach the world (and problems) from every possible perspective, EVEolution was written to be read in virtually any order you want.
There are eight main chapters that cover the EVEolutionary Truths, and they can be read in or out of sequence. The Truth is the Truth, from any angle.
Each chapter will explain the essence of a Truth, giving you examples of brands that flopped because the marketer misjudged it...or triumphed because they grasped it early on. To give "in-real-time" applications, we go through BrainReserve case studies showing how we took each Truth and used it to help build our clients' businesses. My personal favorite section in each Truth chapter is "Around the FutureCorner," which imagines the EVEolutionary future in categories as divergent as healthcare to fast food. I think you'll find "Around the FutureCorner" helpful, because:
W A R N I N G
T h e F u t u r e
I s A l w a y s
c l o s e r T h a n
I t A p p e a r s
All in all, this book is a marketing to women wake-up call. To grasp the enormity of what we're saying, you have to understand the Eight Truths of Marketing to Women. Here they are.
1. Connecting Your Female Consumers to Each Other Connects Them to Your Brand.
2. If You're Marketing to One of Her Lives, You're Missing All the Others.
3. If She Has to Ask, It's Too Late.
4. Market to Her Peripheral Vision and She Will See You in a Whole New Light.
5. Walk, Run, Go to Her, Secure Her Loyalty Forever.
6. This Generation of Women Consumers Will Lead You to the Next.
7. Co-Parenting Is the Best Way to Raise a Brand.
8. Everything Matters--You Can't Hide Behind Your Logo.
The Answers to my Pop(corn) Quiz
Explain why the Web has a long list of successful "Women Only" sites--and why there are no comparable communities for men.
Answer: The First Truth: Connecting (we're calling the Truths by their shorthand names). Because women love sharing ideas, feelings, dreams, fears and most of all, information--forming spontaneous communities, whether it's in the playground, gym, or out in cyberspace. That explains why women-geared dot.coms are so EVEolved, including: ivillage; oxygen; oprah; chickclick; women; hipmama; wiredwoman; womanconnect; hersalon; igc; journeywomen; she-net; and coffeerooms.
Explain why the take-out-foods industry (home meal replacement, to marketers) has changed the eating habits of Americans over the last five years.
Answer: The Second Truth: Multiple Lives. Women are hard at work and yet are still responsible for getting food on the table (or, at least, in the fridge). Hence, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners come in pre-packaged, complete "square meals" (think of Lunchables). That explains the success of Happy Meals at McDonald's drive-thrus; the popularity of chains such as the Boston Market; the emergence of hot food counters in every deli and supermarket.
Explain why home spas and other pampering products have gone from a niche for the rich to class for the mass.
Answer: The Third Truth: If She Has to Ask. Oh, our aching backs. Anticipatory marketing follows the formula: X (more stress) and Y (more cash) equals Z (more ways to relax). This category includes huge Roman-like tubs with Jacuzzi jets; steam showers; bidet toilets; massage tables; aromatherapy products; richer, more complex creams, lotions and potions.
Explain why industrial appliances and professional cookware are the "must haves" for the home kitchen.
Answer: The Fourth Truth: Peripheral Vision. There's a good reason why home kitchens have gone from avocado-green stoves to six-burner stainless-steel Viking ovens. From an odd assortment of pots and pans to matched sets of heavy-gauge black Calphalon. And it has nothing to do with cooking. A woman looks at such state-of-the-art appliances, over and over--in the open kitchen of her favorite Tuscan restaurant; in the editorial pages of Architectural Digest; on B. Smith's TV show or the Food Network. The point is, if you gently surround a woman, instead of attacking her head-on, she'll notice and she'll buy.
Explain why door-to-door selling is booming, with over 7 million women salespeople, more than double the total employee base of the top ten companies in the Fortune 500.
Answer: The Fifth Truth: Walk, Run, Go to Her. Marketing that goes to the home is marketing that hits home. Shopping in the comfort of the living room saves one more trip on crowded roads to the crowded stores. Time and stress savers--from the Avon lady to the manicurist to delivery of almost everything--are the necessities of life today.
Explain why kids don't dress like kids anymore.
Answer: The Sixth Truth: This Generation Will Lead You to the Next. Fashion retailers are on to what mothers have always known (and what I, as the mother of an almost-two-year-old nicknamed g.g., am fast learning): Kids can't wait to grow up. Creating Mom-alike ways of dressing will lock in the loyalty of a whole new generation of consumers. Early on. Mini-trend-setters, as young as 18 months, are decked out in beaded, flared jeans; cropped sweaters; long wrap skirts; platform shoes; and your basic black, instead of baby pink and blue. (How come "one-sies'' don't come in black, navy, and gray and we have to hand-dye the plain white ones?)
Explain why women have created a $9.8 billion pharmacopia for alternative medicine.
Answer: The Seventh Truth: Co-Parenting. Women are turning away from traditional doctors and healthcare (for treating them as second-class citizens), and instead embracing alternative medicine. About 65% of the market in herbal remedies, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids are women--who like this opportunity to mix-and-match such things as anti-blues St. John's Wort with resistance-enhancing Echinacea tea, a get-aligned chiropractic neck adjustment with a flu-fighting vial of Boiron Oscillococcinum. The issue is control. Of bodies, of self. Being involved in basic decisions makes a woman stay involved.
Explain why organic foods have moved from an esoteric sliver position to become a major force in the marketplace.
Answer: The Eighth Truth: Everything Matters. Women will now pay $5.49 for a pound of Horizon organic butter or $3 for a small container of Fresh Samantha tangerine juice because they know they're better for their families. Watch out--all you hormone-pumping, pesticide-wielding, big league marketers. There is not a spot on the supermarket shelves that's safe from the Everything Matters woman.
That's EVEolution. That's our future. Our Female Future.