The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider, delivers interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align marketers on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of the brands they manage.
One of the six guidelines to transparent marketing in reaching women, as laid out in Don’t Think Pink, is: to build customer feedback into your process. Over the years since DTP published (and, to be clear, my co-author and I were by no means the first to tout the value of such feedback), the idea of a somewhat structured board or panel of customers (gender-specific or no) seems to have slowly caught on for improving brand connections.
Women-specific advisory boards seemed to come first. Perhaps it’s because women, oddly, and even as recently as ten or so years ago, were seen as some sort of “whole new market,” enough that “radical” new methods had to be put into use in order to understand them. And yet, market researchers the world over are now realizing that everyone – male or female – is willing to engage in brand conversations (and will spill the goods when asked direct questions).
According to a MediaPost article by Phil Leggiere, companies like Chrysler are really starting to mine their CABs for key consumer insights. As Emily Gates, Chrysler’s Group Account Director for auto and entertainment verticals put it in that piece: For customers, the value is in having a real voice in the decision-making process and a chance to speak directly with key members of the brand team.
Women aren’t the only ones who respond to being asked for their opinions, even if they might be those who engage most quickly in comparison to men. They are certainly getting used to being the “it” or most sought-after customers these days. Still, anyone who has a vested interest as a consumer would likely be thrilled to be invited into regular CAB participation (as long as the activity feels substantive). It would seem to be basic human behavior to respond to being “desired,” as it were…
Studies do show that men and women communicate differently, but that’d all be part of the process of managing and interpreting your feedback, wouldn’t it? Men may chime in a few days later or with fewer words to various email or online forum discussion topics, but their insights will still count. You may have to cull through more words and stories with women (if the stereotypes are true with your particular market), but again – the nuggets will pay off. And, depending on the topic, response styles may completely switch places (tech gadgets inspire much gender-neutral discussion, for one). No stereotyping or assumptions allowed!
In recent months, we’ve read news of the power of such customer panels for P&G brands, OfficeMax and now Chrysler. Even if a great idea was launched for women-focused reasons, in the twenty first century, the most “radical” idea might be that CABs should have no gender about them.
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