Women start to get their due online

As women continue to migrate online, a small number of Canadian marketers have begun rolling out Web sites geared toward female consumers - and none too soon, according to a number of industry analysts. While marketing to women online hasn't had...

As women continue to migrate online, a small number of Canadian marketers have begun rolling out Web sites geared toward female consumers – and none too soon, according to a number of industry analysts.

While marketing to women online hasn’t had to be a major focus for marketers before now – women have never before used the Net to the same extent or in the same ways men have – the reality of online gender parity is one that has to be dealt with, says Sandra Tamburino, director of business development with ACNielsen-DJC Research.

‘Whether you need to market to women depends on your product, but if you do, you can’t just make a blanket statement,’ says Tamburino. ‘It would be wise to market specifically to them – and that comes with understanding not only their usage on the Net, but their traditional decision-making process.’

In anticipation of the female move online, Citytv’s home- and lifestyle-oriented television talk show CityLine recently made its debut on the Web. The Net version features how-to instructions, projects, recipes, an ask-the-experts section and the online CityLine AXS loyalty club. The site mirrors the show’s programming by covering several of the main subject areas – health and family, home, fashion, gardening and cooking – and targeting the same audience of women 25 to 34 years old. According to Maria Hale, managing director of ChumCity Interactive, Web-exclusive information will also be developed in an effort to further draw its strong female following online and encourage new viewers to both the show and the site.

‘We’re going to be featuring things like online chats, chats with our experts and a message board system so that our audience will be able to communicate with one another. This is one of the areas that we think will grow and receive a lot of attention moving forward,’ she says.

Last year, 51% of Canadian Internet users were women – a ratio that reflects Statistics Canada numbers for the population as a whole, according to Tamburino. In January, ACNielsen-DJC Research published the 4th annual Women Online Study, which polled a sample of 6,000 Canadians over the age of 12 who’ve used the Net in the last year. In 1997 and 1998, 47% and 49% of those online were women.

The percentage of men engaged in Net activities like downloading, clicking on banners and participating in newsgroups, however, is considerably higher than that of women, according to Tamburino. Women most often use the Net to find education and health information, participate in chat rooms, and obtain recipes. Kraft Canada’s Web site, for one, boasts several female-oriented features including an interactive kitchen, a meal planning service, and a recipe finder/cookbook.

Although women exert a great deal of purchase power, the study shows they are trailing men when it comes to e-commerce: 34% of men have made a purchase online versus 19% of women. And only about 20% of women do online research about future purchases, compared to 36% of men.

Tamburino says while women still do not use the Net as frequently as men, nor do they spend as much time per visit, the time spent online will increase as their experience and comfort level increase.

‘All the types of things women look for in the traditional environment, they also need on the Internet,’ says Tamburino. ‘If your site is difficult to use, loaded or embedded with all kinds of information and layers of content, you’re going to create a barrier.’

She suggests marketers build a community of interest among women by giving them something of value.

Ford Motor Company of Canada has been attempting to do just that by moving some of its traditionally female-oriented activities online, according to Lauren More, the automaker’s sales and marketing communications manager. The company features its Car Smarts Interactive Seminars program for women, offered in partnership with Chatelaine magazine, on its Web site. Bobbie Gaunt, president and CEO of the auto manufacturer, also recently hosted a one-hour live interactive chat from the Canadian Auto Show.

‘Certainly e-initiatives are a focus for Ford in general and the women market is definitely a focus. If you consider that one in three cars and one in five trucks are purchased by a woman, and 85% of all vehicle purchases are influenced by women, it’s absolutely an important market for us.’

According to Web measurement company Media Metrix, U.S. sites with a high concentration of women include toy, greeting card and health sites. In the U.S., women represent 48% of Internet users, with forecasts estimating they will begin to outnumber men online within the next 12 months, according to Jupiter Communications.

Christina Rodmell, co-founder of The Wired Woman Society, a Toronto-based association representing women who work in the online and digital communications industry, says advertisers and marketers need to forge connections and relationships with their female audience if they’re to thrive. They can do this, she says, by making their sites friendly, easy to use and visually appealing, and by including a mechanism by which women can ask questions and offer criticism.

‘The virtual world is slowly starting to reflect its brick-and-mortar counterpart. It’s important to tap into the female market, but you can’t umbrella us under one ad campaign. You really have to understand the dynamics,’ Rodmell says.

Knix goes against the flow in new unapologetic campaign

The DTC brand is driving awareness for its leakproof undergarments with a brutally-honest music video-style spot.

Apparel brand Knix is touting the functional benefits of its protective underwear in its latest campaign, “Every body in Leakproof.”

Created by newly minted Toronto shop, Hard Work Club, the creative is intended to be brutally honest about taboo subjects like bladder leakage, menstruation and perspiration. The campaign is centred around a music video-style spot with the song “Blood, Sweat & Pee (Nothing to Hide)” by Toronto rapper Exmiranda, and features diverse uninhibited women skipping rope, dancing, skateboarding and drumming.

“Every body in Leakproof” is supported by unapologetically forthright OOH, with headlines that read “What’s a little blood, sweat and pee?”

“We really wanted to develop a campaign that broke through and caught people’s attention,” says Barry Alexander, VP, brand marketing at Knix, who says the jarring taglines are meant to reflect the everyday language and experience of the consumer.

Music, Alexander maintains, is a universal language that can be understood by anyone, and is an effective way to get users engaged in the concept and to drive awareness for Knix, which was named strategy‘s Brand of the Year in 2020.

In fact, he says, this campaign represents the largest brand awareness spend in its history, running on TV and online across the U.S. and Canada. And its launch coincides with the largely DTC brand’s recently expanded brick and mortar presence stateside.

Alexander tells strategy that Knix was able to weather the pandemic storm as it moved to being a primarily online business in 2016, and so consumers were already accustomed to engaging with the brand online. Also, he says, the period underwear, which was previously a niche category, is increasingly being seen as both a sustainable and functional menstruation solution.

“We want to make sure we’re shouting from the hilltop that Knix is the leader,” Alexander says, who says New York-based feminine hygiene company Thinx is its immediate competitor, a brand that launched around the same time as Knix, but in the U.S.

The buy was handled internally, with support from partner Tatari for TV.