Who controls the budget in most U.S. households? Women. According to a Harris Interactive study, women control 75 percent of household finances. Who makes the buying decisions in most U.S. households? Women. According to that same study, women make 80 percent of purchasing decisions.
Not only that, women have a lot to say when it comes to making purchasing decisions for businesses. According to the Center for Women’s Business Research, 10.6 million firms are at least 50 percent owned by a woman or women and the average growth rate of women-owned firms is nearly twice that of all firms. Women-owned firms employ 19.1 million people and generate $2.5 trillion in sales.
A Simmons National Consumer Survey report stated, “The majority of high-income women are married or divorced, and the share of women who earn more than their husbands is growing exponentially. The share of all women (not just high-income women) who earn more than their husbands has increased 58.3 percent between 1987 and 2004. Women are earning the majority of post-secondary degrees and will continue to earn these degrees at a faster rate than men. Their greater educational attainment will fuel growth in personal earnings and, in turn, purchasing power.”
Knowing all of that, is it any wonder that HVAC contractors like Robert McClelland of A-1 Quick Service in Kansas City, Kan., have made the decision to channel their company’s marketing efforts toward women? A-1 primarily sells Nordyne branded equipment, which includes Maytag, a product with name recognition among women shoppers.
Doug Jones, VP of sales and marketing for Nordyne, discussed women’s roles in his company’s marketing strategy. “Recent research shows women are becoming more heavily involved in the household purchasing decisions,” he said.
“Our contractors find that many of these women hold a personal and emotional connection to the Maytag brand that is driving them to increasingly purchase Maytag heating and cooling products.”
“Nordyne recognizes the potential that marketing to women holds for our dealers. During our 2007 Maytag National Meeting, Nordyne hosted Sharon Roberts, a leading expert in selling to women, to share her insights and tips on how to effectively communicate with and sell to women.”
A-1’s McClelland has taken the ball and run with it, too. “Robert has noticed that women are increasingly becoming a decision-maker for heating and air conditioning purchases,” said Andrea Mollet of Osborn & Barr Communications, a public relations firm that represents Nordyne. “He took this idea and chose to target women in what has become a successful marketing strategy.”
A-1'S STRATEGY“We choose to market to women because Maytag is a name recognized by women,” said McClelland. “Their moms used Maytag so they use Maytag, and it is likely that their children will use the equipment as well. So ultimately it was no question as to what demographic we should market to.”
A-1 markets in places where people are, e.g., grocery stores, pharmacies, movie theaters, and restaurants. McClelland said he believes in repetitive advertising and “We try to be in areas in which people will see the name. When their equipment needs to be serviced or replaced, they think of us and Maytag.”
He cited one specific example of how this strategy worked. “We were doing a proposal with a husband and a wife in their home,” he said. “We were offering a couple of different brands to choose from and the wife keeps picking up the Maytag literature, but the husband wants the cheapest and most economical. Like in many households, the wife is the boss, although most of us men do not want to admit it.
“This woman does some convincing and they meet in the middle - a piece of Maytag equipment that is affordable, but yet very dependable and well-built. Most of the time we even finance individuals with 12 months deferred interest and no payments for a year.”
He feels that, on average, women in his Kansas City market have taken very well to his marketing strategy and added, “I think as long as Maytag begins doing some mass marketing nationwide, identifying the company as HVAC equipment manufacturers, and their dealers and distribution centers do their part, Maytag as an HVAC business will become a household name.”
The strategy will still take a while to settle in since McClelland believes that many people do not even know that Maytag makes HVAC equipment. But he knows it is just a matter of time because women and men think so differently when they look at a product. That notion is supported by author and marketing expert Martha Barletta in her book,Marketing to Women: How to Understand, Reach, and Increase Your Share of the World’s Largest Market.
Barletta wrote, “Men like the bells and whistles of a new product. Women prefer a warranty or service guarantee. Men shop in terms of technology specs. Women shop in terms of how the product meets their lifestyle needs. Men are happy with a good solution; women seek the perfect answer.”
That suits McClelland just fine, since he believes that Maytag “comes with the best warranties in the business and has a good selection of price ranges to meet most any consumer’s needs.”