She-conomy: Why Your Advertising May be Missing the Mark

stephanie holland she-conomy

Today’s post is guest post written by Stephanie Holland. Stephanie  one of only 3% of female creative directors in the country. That minority status is becoming a strong point of differentiation for her agency, Holland + Holland, located in Birmingham, Alabama. Especially since 85% of all brands purchases are made by women. It gives her a unique selling proposition and strength as her agency competes with the “big boys.”

Check out Stephanie’s new blog: Even though she’s speaking about marketing to women, she isn’t losing sight that her target audience is primarily men, who should be marketing to women. She has discovered that her blog allows her more flexibility to explore this positioning as her agency’s brand evolves.

she-conomy logo

Is Your Advertising Missing the Mark?

A quick Google search will flood your screen with seminars, new business models, web sites, articles and blogs dedicated to the recently discovered art of marketing to women. The foundation being that 85% of all brand purchases (that’s about $7 trillion annually-more that half of the GNP) are made by women. And yet more and more conclusive research is revealing women are not swayed or influenced by the traditional branding messages. In fact, more often than not, women are turned-off by the very brands seeking to target them. The modern woman has become numb and indifferent to ads that speak to her husband, or even worse, her great aunt.

“Only 3% of advertising creative directors are women”

This is not at all surprising considering a measly 3% of advertising creative directors-the people in charge of communicating to purchasers-are women. Even the advertising industry award shows can’t argue the point. Less than 15% of the top honors are awarded to ads targeting women. It’s like some very valuable logic was lost somewhere in the last 50 years.

Change is on the Horizon

It’s been a very slow realization, but it’s finally happening. Established traditional agencies are seeking out the female creatives, new female-focused agencies are cropping up all over the U.S. and Europe, and even the huge, super-star ad agencies are adding entire departments dedicated to tapping into this gold mine of a market.

“71% of women feel that brands only consider them for beauty products and cleaning products”

More Stats Making the News

Research tells us that 71% of women feel that brands only consider them for beauty products and cleaning products. Which is astounding considering the additional statistics state the following:

  • 94% the wealth acquired in the next four years, will be acquired by women
  • 69% of household health decisions are made by women
  • 74% of all NBA & NFL apparel is purchased by women
  • 91% of new home decisions are made by women 81% of grocery decisions are made by women
  • 60% of the online population are women
  • 62% of all workers are women

Does this Mean Excluding Men? Absolutely not.

Improving your marketing doesn’t mean making it “for her eyes only.” That would be short-sighted to say the least. In fact, making your product more desirable to women will more than likely make it more appealing to everyone. Quite simply, if you connect with the intelligence and sensibilities of a woman, chances are good your message is effective across the sexes.

Business owners, both male and female, should consider the fact that this information is immensely valuable to every person wanting to thrive or, and in some cases, survive in today’s tenuous market place. Particularly in a fragile economy, advertisers should focus on trying to understand how women think and feel in order to expand their audience.

In other words, if you want your company to shoot for the stars, you may want to aim more in the direction of Venus.

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


  1. Those are interesting statistics, but I don’t just accept any numbers without citation, especially numbers that seem much higher than expected and that have self-serving potential. Still, it is a good point to consider that women do have more influence in some purchase decisions than is sometimes acknowledged.

  2. The statistic, 85% of all consumer purchases are made by women, came from marketing expert and author, Martha Barletta’s book, “How to Market to Women.” Martha is president of Trendsight.

  3. Great post. There are many prejudices that have yet to be overcome in advertising. Too often advertising talks to groups of people using shallow thinking, instead of talking to individuals using insight and intelligent communications.

  4. Mike, thanks for taking the time to comment. I wholeheartedly agree.

  5. Great post Stephanie and thanks for hosting it, Michael.

    Good to be reminded of those numbers. Other folks like Marcus Graham have taken it on themselves to champion the underrepresented in our industry and Orgs like the 4As are listening (finally).

    Newsflash: White Men don’t run the world (they just think they do).

    Signed an enlightened white dude.

  6. Thanks for your comments David. Especially, Newsflash: White Men don’t run the world (they just think they do). Our industry needs to wake-up and catch-up.

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