I probably shouldn’t write about female consumer psychology and marketing, but I’m going to.
The world of marketing is a savage and treacherous landscape, where the slightest misstep can lead to certain doom.
The people who inhabit this strange and wondrous realm believe themselves to be masters of manipulation, able to bend the will of the masses to their own twisted desires with little more than a few carefully crafted words and images.
And like any good story, there’s some truth to it.
Peeps in marketing, branding and conversion rate optimisation want to understand their customers on a deeper level so that they can influence more people to buy.
At the beating heart of female consumer psychology and marketing is segmentation.
The psychological differences between sexes have a symbiotic relationship with marketing and conversion rate optimization.Chris McCarron – GoGoChimp 2023
When you look at segments of traffic to your website, it’s impossible to ignore the different behavioural patterns that exist between males and females.
Unfortunately, the relationship between female consumer psychology and marketing is an unavoidable and sometimes emotionally charged topic.
One minute you’re talking about A/B testing product images and website buttons and the next you’re brawling over the importance of gender roles and toy preferences.
And that’s exactly where we find ourselves today.
We’re talking about the age-old question of whether little boys really do prefer blue and “boy’s toys” or little girls love pink and “girly things“.
We’re looking at how females respond to different things than males and how these differences relate to marketing and consumer psychology.
Hear me out…
All this gender stuff might make you want to pull your hair out, and scream at the top of your lungs “what the hell does this madness have to do with marketing or conversion rate optimization?“.
It’s worth me taking the time to point out that the sex of a website visitor isn’t the only defining factor that shapes consumer behaviour.
All segments of website traffic and of a target audience behave differently.
It might be geography; age; the device used; page speed or psychographic differences.
And the further down the rabbit hole you go…
Well… You come to realise that many segments can be broken down into teeny-weeny bite-sized audiences.
For example, a refined segment might be: females; aged 21-30; who own an iPhone; use a Google Chrome browser; 5G connection; located in Glasgow, Scotland.
WARNING: If you’re easily triggered, then look away now…
Boys like “boy toys” and girls like “girl toys“.
“An evolutionary perspective of sex-typed toy preferences: Pink, blue, and the brain” by Gerianne M. Alexander is a research paper that argues sex-typed toy preferences (stereotypes) are not a social construct but are hard-wired into our mushy brains.
Alexander’s research highlights that sex-typed toy preferences are ubiquitous in human society, with girls typically preferring to play with toys such as dolls and boys wanting to play with spaceships and action figures.
The study also explores the biological mechanisms that cause gender preferences such as differences in prenatal hormone exposure and brain development.
Male vervet monkeys prefer “boy toys” and females like “girl toys“.
As you’ll already be aware of, there are both male and female-dominated professions.
In fact, only 16 per cent of engineers and 21 per cent of computer programmers are female.
However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only ten per cent of nurses and four per cent of preschool and kindergarten teachers are male.
The journal Frontiers in Psychology published a study that indicates that male and female career goals might be shaped by how much they value the importance of caring for others.
Lead author Katharina Block, a PhD student in social psychology at UBC states:
We found that men place less importance on more basic communal values, such as how important it is to help others, and that others are taken care of. They also tended to be less interested in very care-oriented careers, like nursing. One reason that men, on average, might not be interested in taking on these types of jobs is that they don’t really fit the kind of values men learn to pursue.Katharina Block, a PhD student in social psychology at UBC states
However, I believe this to only be partially correct as there is substantial evidence to support that male and female values are not something we learn but rather we’re born with.
Male and female toy preferences are present in non-human primates.
Female vervet monkeys show a strong preference for dolls and other “mothering” toys, while male vervets gravitate towards toys that allow them to engage in rough-and-tumble play.
The study notes that these preferences emerge at a young age and before being exposed to cultural conditioning.
But the real kicker, my friends, is that there are structural differences in the brains of males and females. Particularly in the areas of spatial reasoning and object manipulation.
These differences may explain why boys prefer toys that involve building and manipulating objects, while girls like toys that encourage nurturing and socializing.
Female psychology and marketing: Objects and social settings.
So how can you use this aspect of male and female consumer psychology in your marketing campaigns and landing pages?
- Marketing psychology men respond to: Males like objects and things that build or manipulate something. For example, a badass saw that chews through a tree in under 30 seconds.
- Marketing psychology women respond to: Females value social settings; mothering; nurturing and caring for others. For example, a lady cares for a child with a scraped knee.
Parents don’t influence what toys children like to play with… So what chance do you have?
Call me old-fashioned…
But in my mind, the golden rule to psychology and marketing is: “give what the audience wants” rather than “give the audience what we think they want“.
There is a growing trend with brands preaching a message that aims to shame consumers into feeling and acting a certain way.
Contrary to this, consumer psychology research shows that our values are not shaped by an outside force, but are hardwired by genetics.
Alexander’s research examines cultural and societal factors that contribute to sex-typed toy preferences.
- A child’s own preferences influence the kinds of toys they choose to play with
- These preferences are shaped by a variety of things such as early experiences and exposure to different types of toys
- Parents (and other adults) who reinforce gender stereotypes do not have an effect on what type of toy a child wants to play with
I’ll leave it up to you to decide if there are evolutionary differences between genders and if this is intertwined with female consumer psychology and marketing.
Male psychology and female consumer psychology in marketing.
Lee, Fernandez, and Martin released their groundbreaking 2002 study about the power of self-referential advertising.
They found that when a consumer is exposed to advertising that aligns with a salient aspect of themself, they are far more likely to engage with it on a deep, personal level.
In simple terms…
Customers respond to marketing and landing pages when they are represented by someone who mirrors them.
This self-reference leads to a flood of positive thoughts, attitudes, and purchase intentions because the consumer is reflected in the marketing.
It’s a fascinating phenomenon and one that has significant implications for the world of female consumer psychology and marketing.
It’s about authentic marketing campaigns that reflect who your customers are.
So, how do you create authentic marketing campaigns or sure-fire landing pages that resonate with your target audience?
Understand who you are trying to reach.
You must know your customers’ shared values, beliefs, and aspirations on a deep and intimate level.
- What do they care about?
- What drives them?
- What do they look like?
- Who do they admire?
- What age are they?
- What gender are they?
- What race are they?
- What is their financial situation?
Customers respond to self-referenced ads that mirror their circumstances.
So let’s say you sell watches and that the majority of your customers are middle-aged Asian females who have an interest in art and design: Simply show a middle-aged Asian female using your product in an art and design setting.
It’s really that simple and in my experience, it’s a force to be reckoned with.
Female colour psychology for marketing and design.
Studies have shown that women are better at discriminating between colours than men, particularly in the red-green spectrum.
For example, spotting red colours such as a red website button is easier for females than males.
So why do females spot the colour red faster than males?
Contemporary visual bases are evident in many species including humans.
The ability to detect and discriminate red wavelengths may originate from most human foragers being female.
This gives them an advantage in locating ripe fruits and berries.
Alexander insists that this evolved from foraging activities, which are predominantly carried out by women.
Additionally, the paper highlights that many cultures associate the colour red with femininity, fertility, and sexuality.
The idea that colour discrimination may have evolved in response to foraging needs is a relatively new one.
However, studies such as this help to shed new light on how visual perception is shaped by evolutionary forces.
Naturally, this colour psychology research can be applied to your website, marketing and branding.
If the majority of your website traffic is female, then you could use a green background and a red website button for your call to action.
Male and female colour psychology for conversion rate optimization.
We might think there’s not much of a relationship between genders and conversion rate optimization, but Alexander’s research suggests otherwise.
The presentation of product images is critical.
Products images set in a social setting will have a stronger appeal to females than to males.
Additionally, research into female consumer psychology has proven that certain colours on your website, marketing or branding may be easier for females to spot.
This means that you can use certain colours to guide female consumers towards looking at your most important content.