As a female tech entrepreneur, I recently participated in a panel at Google's London HQ on women and technology. Organised in conjunction with International Womens' Day, Google posed the question: how has the digital industry shifted its online advertising approach to women's behaviors and trends? Having worked in e-commerce ad land all over the world, I've witnessed the evolution of the digital marketing space first hand. As a woman myself - and as the founder of the world's largest social shopping app - I believe that online ads need to get more female savvy. Without wanting to sounds like I'm jumping on the feminism bandwagon, there's a huge opportunity for women to shape the future of advertising. And there's serious data to back it up.
E-commerce has come from being mostly a search space, a place where shopping information was made accessible to everyone, regardless of gender. This was the objective of the first company I co-founded, PriceMinister. Often dubbed the French equivalent of eBay, PriceMinister connected the masses to the best prices possible. We started with the standard low friction categories (books, multimedia and technology) and quickly attracted millions of men and women. Shopping behaviours were quite standard, except that men were spending a bit more, usually buying higher priced items. Overall, the digital behaviour of men and women started to change when fashion and lifestyle expanded online. It was at this point that I saw a window of opportunity and created my second start-up Shopcade, targeting young fashion-conscious consumers - mainly women.
There are notable differences between men's and women's behaviours and advertising needs to adapt in order to capitalise. Here are a few examples:
- Women shop more often and are overall responsible for more than 61% of purchases online (although women are only 50% of the online population). They see shopping online as a form of entertainment and love to consume lifestyle content around shopping trends. Therefore brands that produce more organic and inspiring content get higher engagement - and ultimately sales. Dove is a great example of content driven ads that get shared organically by millions of women.
- Men are more compulsive shoppers, as they take less time to complete a purchase and browse fewer products. Women want to view different related products in an easy and visually attractive way. Brands that create great visual ads and cross selling allow for better creative impact and efficiency.
- Men also tend to be more "classical buyers" and prefer to see products like clothes before buying. Men also buy 65% of what they try on, against only 25% for women. Brands are strong influencers too for men, whereas women tend to shop based on other criteria such as style, shape, colour, etc.
- Women are very focused on social recommendations as well as discount vouchers (68% of vouchers are used by women). They are more eager to write and read blogs as well as share their shopping finds or looks, like millions do on the Shopcade mobile app. They follow more brands and celebrities than their male counterpart. On Shopcade, their engagement is double that of men and they love two-way discussions.
This means there are some big social and economic implications of understanding the female user base better. It will enhance any business in the future to connect digitally with their female consumers, whether they are young women, mothers or professionals. Therefore the opportunity is there for women to participate and lead in this young industry of digital marketing. They should embrace technology for its purpose of understanding the profound human behaviours.
Personally, I'm favourable to better behavioural targeting - thank god I'm targeted! I finally get ads that interest me and often convince me to buy. It really works to remind me of the cool stylish things I've considered but may not have bought yet. I also want to get quick access to what people I trust are choosing and buying. Can digital marketing be more organic, socially-driven and cost-conscious? This is what I asked Google, and they said they need more women!
Follow Nathalie on Twitter: @NathGaveau for news or Shopcade.com/Nathalie for style.