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Making Meaningful Connections with Women

  • February 25 2013

What you think you know about women isn’t necessarily what women really think.

Today’s woman hardly fits the stereotypes that have been used for generations to reach this lucrative demographic. She’s more ambitious than ever before and earns more too. She spends more time online than her male counterparts and interacts with her communities in unique, emerging ways. She’s engaged with her brands and expects them to understand the nuances of who she is and what she wants—and she’s disappointed when they fail to do so.

To help brands gain a keener, more meaningful understanding of women, Starcom MediaVest Group is taking a new approach to discovering insights about what women want today, and just as importantly, what they don’t want.  Through its Global Human Experience Center, SMG is employing leading-edge techniques to harness human behavior and gain access to the distinctions that answer the important questions about today’s women.

“We recognize that human understanding is the greatest source of competitive advantage for brands today,” explains Laura Desmond, Global CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group. “Our clients are frequently looking for global insights, but in reality, these insights live at the local level. We’ve organized our Global Human Experience Center to provide these global-to-local capabilities to get brands there faster and with more authenticity.”

According to SMG, broad-based strokes and generalizations about “what women want” fail to incorporate the level of tone and shading that’s required to truly engage women. But the techniques employed by SMG’s 125 dedicated human experience strategists can uncover subtleties that traditional methods typically miss.

“The Global Human Experience Center enables our clients to involve women as active partners in brand experience design by understanding what matters most to her,” says Laura Krajecki, SMG’s chief consumer officer. “This helps brands navigate emerging connections and media channels and validate which experiences she really values most.”

“Women are already breaking down the barriers between themselves and brands,” adds Sarah Kramer, president, global managing director of SMG, responsible for the agency’s P&G business. “There’s an amazing opportunity for brands to provide value to women in new and innovative ways by knowing what matters most to them.”

The Human Experience Center harnesses the global voice of women across her life stages and funnels it to build innovative ideas for SMG’s clients. They’re seeing how moms are finding new uses for products, why young women are “hacking” solutions to create new applications, and the ways older women are demonstrating a new energy and bringing new purpose to the products they buy.

Consider some of the novel methods SMG’s human experience strategists are employing. From global co-creation communities to social listening, netnography and video ethnography, they are harnessing the power of next-generation research to put brands closer to their consumer locally and at scale globally.

For example, when SMG needed to understand how moms were connecting with other moms, SMG eschewed classic research surveys and interviews. Instead, it observed how they were using online forums as gathering places and how they were now connecting with friends virtually to socialize. Observing this behavior led to insights that clients were able to leverage immediately.

Via co-creation techniques, SMG’s brand clients are able to work together with women to take ideas and build them into better experiences in the market. It’s not simply a matter of asking women what they want, but having them show and literally develop the solutions they want to see from their brands. Consumers engage in more immersive ways and provide SMG’s strategists with the nuances that can define market success.

The SMG philosophy further incorporates cultural identity techniques that have provided a unique perspective into multicultural segments including African-American, Hispanic and LGBT women. Strategists delve into the audience’s personal experiences and their self-defined identities, giving advertisers new ways they can connect with multicultural women. As Esther Franklin, head of SMG Americas Human Experience Strategy, notes, “When you have this level of nuance, it allows you to tell a more authentic and inspired story.”

This special section incorporates insights that have come out of SMG’s ongoing research into women. It outlines her experiences across her different life stages, giving greater clarity to what she really wants.