What women want (in 2015)

Marketel's Jessie Sternthal says its time to embrace the funny girls, imperfections and lists.

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By Jessie Sternthal

Yesss, a new year. A fresh start. A blank page. And in my case, a blinking bloody cursor.

It’s that time of year again when anything’s possible. New opportunities, new relationships, new hair and even new ways to use that wilted kale you bought four days ago with such great intention.  And with the start of any new year come new briefs, new products, new services and new business pitches. None of which are relying upon old ways to solve, sell and seduce thousands with. So before we all get too comfy back in our swivel chairs – and back in our ways – let me try to arm you with insights you need THIS year to get that big, bad female audience of yours begging you for seconds.

1. More funny girls

Kristen Wiig, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham. Good luck trying to sign any one of them. Great luck taking a cue from the masters. Or mistresses, as it were. The rise of the bitingly witty, whip smart, painfully and pleasurably honest funny girl is on and not going anywhere fast. We bought their books by the million, subscribed to their blogs in droves and illegally streamed HBO from our office computers just to be part of their hilarity. What’s the appeal? What’s not the appeal? Women are laughing loudly and laughing at themselves. Ride that wave. It’s a good one. (But note of caution: if you’re not a writer for SNL, don’t try to write like you are. BUT, do get some good funny brains in the room, maybe partner with an improv troop and definitely get a tough crowd to bounce work off of).

2. Imperfection

Last year, “Pinterest stress” became an actual disorder – a phenomenon causing depression and anxiety amongst its female victims. And there were shockingly many. In a recent study conducted by Today, 42% of moms surveyed suffered from this modern affliction – brought on by feeling consistently inadequate as mothers, wives and women in the pressuring face of 17 layer rainbow cakes, yarn-wrapped-ombre-monogrammed letters (I just looked those up. Wow.) and even innocent little birthday party decorations…made with GOLD LEAF OVERLAY. Perfection is creepy and boring. But social media is great at blanketing our screens with what appear to be perfect lives and perfect things. We all know better by now though, right? So let’s be smarter about it instead of feed it. Let’s make 2015′s insights a little more transparent. A little more “let’s just do our best.” Inspiration is a wonderful thing. But I’m not certain that Xanax is.

3. Fun-ness over fitness

I love a tight tush on me as much as the next girl. Or guy. You know what I meant. But it seems that you can’t pick up ANY magazine anymore without a barrage of headlines still prompting women to lose weight, cut calories, stay fuller longer, get fitter, flatter, firmer, smaller, bendier. If we aren’t learning how to do planks then we’re trying to figure out how to detox without dying. Let’s stop feeding the frenzy. Health is in but so is joy. Getting (or staying) fit is an amazing endeavor that all of us should be partying with – but maybe if we shifted the focus from “have to” to “want to,” women would respond better. Doing activities you love over ones you feel you have to do in order to stay fit, is a subtle but profound shift in messaging to consider this year. Also, the token yoga mat in every spread and spot? Getting dated. How about a pair of spinning shoes? A badminton racquet? A circus trapeze? Speak to women’s happy place and brand love will follow.

4. Better intimacy with the over-50 set

A cool thing happened last year. For the first time ever, an attractive, middle-aged woman was the star and voice of a hugely successful Viagra campaign – a brand and category that has forever used guys as (mostly comic) messaging vehicles. What can I say? The women have spoken. And I imagine, will continue to. Snap to it, 2015.

5. Lists. More lists!

We love lists. I’ve just spent the last hour and a half turning this column into one. From the classic yellow notepad to-do to the Buzzfeed variety, women are all over making, reading, sharing, crossing off, losing and finding lists. It’s our own personal little regulation-lined control tower. And it’s already been a big part of our 2015 – just days in. Brands that jump on the list train will be tapping into something, um, notable. What’s the next Buzzfeed? Let your brand decide. Then let ‘er rip.

6. Full fat food

I think I can speak for most when I say that we’re 100% done with 0% fat Greek yogurt ads. Let’s start marketing real food to real women who really eat things. Or better yet, let’s just market food to people. Not just guys, not just girls, but humans. There’s really no need to segment the market when it comes to chicken or oatmeal or jam or jerky. Let 2015 be the year that everyone gets to eat everything. Fatty or not.

7. And lastly, nice guys

They say that nice guys finish last. So, I’m finishing this article with them…because they’re the best. Last year was the year to be a “nice guy.” I have never seen so many women fall irrationally in love with the likes of Jimmy Fallon, Paul Rudd, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jason Bateman, the cute dad from that Tide commercial and pretty much the entire cast of The Big Bang Theory. The shift is on and casting sessions in 2015 should start to mirror that. Spots, pre-rolls, print ads or content capsules featuring likeable nice guys? Now you’re talking modern woman. Sorry smoldering jerks. Maybe next year.

So whatever your budding year brings, bring the kind of work that works. Women will always buy your stuff. But buying into your stuff is a whole other thing. Happy 2015 everyone.

 jessie_1Jessie Sternthal is a senior writer at Marketel. 

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