As Tom and I prepare to go to NY, for the Innovation Forum conference, I'm struck by how things change, and yet, remain the same. It almost seems as if the world has finally woken up to the power of a woman's purse, but - the truth is, they've known it all along. Most women don't feel recognized but, looking back at advertising, I notice that marketing has been focused on women for a long time.
Back in the day, according to this About.com page on the history of advertising, the consumer goods industry was marketing via Harper's Weekly, to...women. Maybe it wasn't stated that the ads were for women but...I have to believe that Harper's Weekly knew who was going to read the ads. Check out this ad for a sewing machine, endorsed by Mrs. Jefferson Davis (before the civil war) and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant (after the civil war). Hmmm...
And, here's whole page of ads for yeast, toilet soaps, and more. Now, who do you suppose was going to buy those items??
Then, there's this timeline of advertising showing how Procter & Gamble started advertising Ivory Soap in 1882, with a budget of $11,000! In 1883, Ladies' Home Journal was launched, by a husband and wife team.
So, this 'idea' that marketing to women is new...or that we ladies aren't on the minds of advertisers and marketers just might be an overstatement. I think, looking back at the 50s and 60s, that our newfangled invention, the TV, was a prime marketing tool to the ladies. We have to go back to The Mom Factor and how women, at that time, were likely to be homemakers. Homemakers with time on their hands - time to watch Soap Operas. Please, admit that advertising on soap operas was aimed at women. And, that it spilled over into the sitcom industry, even to the dramatic shows of the day like Alfred Hitchcock presents, and even The Twilight Zone.
Maybe women didn't hold the remote in those days (because there wasn't one) but they controlled the channel changer - for the family. That's what women did then. That's what women do now. Men may 'think' they have control over the remote - but, regardless of what comes on the TV as they click through, the commercials are aimed at women. Not always successfully, true. Still, hair color commercials, shampoo commercials, diet commercials, fast food, microwave meals, cleaning products, medicine - what isn't part of what all Moms take care of?
So...as we explore innovation in NY, you will not see a lot of "marketing to women online" talk here. You'll read about education, I hope. You'll read about creativity, I'm sure. You'll read about tomorrow and next year and how our thinking in this country has to change, if we want to stay competitive. And, maybe, just maybe, you'll learn something.
I know I expect to learn something. Stay tuned.