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Women Don't Buy Spark Plugs (Yawn)

By Guest Blogger, Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter

It's funny how the Universe works - here I am working with a new client,  Enerpulse, who's selling a "green" auto component, pulse plugs, and wants to sell more of them to women...and Yvonne's at Ford, having all the fun, test driving new cars, including green ones...So, I'll be very interested to hear how the car manufacturer thinks about women these days.

Woman_yawning One of the first questions I explored with Enerpulse was "Do women buy spark plugs?"  Well, of course not. At least not most of us. BORING!

We don't wander over to AutoZone for retail therapy and you probably won't see many of us browsing the aisles at Pep Boys for fun. We do, however, buy reliability. I recently had my Jeep in the shop twice in two weeks.  And, on one visit, I got a full tune-up, including spark plugs (sadly, my engine can't use pulse plugs).  Not because I wanted them ( you can't even see them after all, even if you open the hood) - but I DO want a dependable car, particularly when I'm out in the back of beyond here in the desert, hiking or collecting rocks for my garden.

We also don't buy:

Horsepower. We buy speed (a lot of us love to drive fast) and the ability to get out of the way of idiots on the highway. (Men also buy horsepower for status - and - ahem - sex, but that's a post for another day.)


Cup Holders. This is one of those things car makers seem to think we're simply mad about. ("Look at all the female-friendly features - cup holders galore!") However, not all of us have kids or want to drive minivans. And  what we really love is convenience and ease of use.  Simply plonking cup holders in won't do the job.  For example, while I like having cup holders right there in my Jeep, I've always been frustrated that they are two different sizes...and I invariabiy try to put the wrong size cup in the wrong holder.   

Etc. etc. etc...People don't buy your products for the reasons you think they're so cool (internal design, technology used, etc.).  They're buying accomplishment and feelings (including that all-important thing, status.  Why else can Ralph Lauren charge hundreds of dollars for basic clothing you can buy at Tarzhee for a tenth the price? Because it makes people feel like they've made it. The shirt must be worth the price...because they paid it.)    

Warning:  All of the above about women is a generalization. As with any group to whom you want to market, thare are some majority characteristics.  However, you can't take the easy way out. People buy for different reasons at different times.  For example, if you take,"Being a woman means loving kids" at face value, with no further work, you could waste valuable time and money marketing the wrong thing to the wrong the wrong place at the wrong time.    


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Joy Levin

These are all great examples of how easy it is to misunderstand your target audience and side-step the benefits sought. It's not a matter of just understanding the surface benefits, but the core values that lie underneath and addressing those effectively.

Katie Konrath

So true! I remember going in to buy a computer last time, and all it listed were GB and MB and all sorts of code that I didn't understand.

All I really want is storage capacity and speed... I don't care what it takes to get those.

It's amazing how many companies ignore what we really want in favor of their codes.

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