Monday, May 15, 2017

Women Are Not Robots

Women Are Not Robots

Erica Eden, Director, Global Design Innovation, PepsiCo

“We don’t treat women like people,” Erica begins this talk. “If you look across multiple categories, the overall hypothesis is that the men’s brands cast a shadow over the women’s brands.”

Women’s innovation lags behind men’s brands. The most obvious mistakes are these three:
(1)  Brands lack identity and are generic, older women (around age 50) don’t exist in the ads, for examples, until they are elderly
(2)  We lean on female stereotypes, instead of really understanding them
(3)  Hyper focus on the functional and data-based needs—too many functional benefits as the main selling point. Men’s brands tend to do this better in the food and beverage category.

Women’s innovation follows this robotic formula that is generic, stereotypical and too based on functional benefits.

“The truth is right at hand, ”Eden claims, “just look at the men’s brands. They are not afraid to be bold, to break categories, to push the limits. They solve for tribes, not targets. Think of Gatorade or Mountain Dew—those are male brands in our portfolio.” Pro athletes are the target for Gatorade—and this focus leads the whole innovation pipeline, who they are designing for, though not necessarily the target audience.

Bros. Dudes. This tribe loves our Doritos. They play video games. They are deliberately exclusive, which is bold for a mass brand.

So it’s a simple equation: “tribes verses consumption group.”

How do women really make decisions? Herein lies the solution.

“There’s a moment of truth where she wants something. Her mind has a push-and-pull that she both wants it and that it is a good choice, so you have desire competing with reason.” 99% of all such decisions, according to research, are emotional, but the 1% of reason tries to justify the purchase.

“For food it has to meet the midpoint between delicious and healthy enough,” says Erica.

We design for three female tribes. “There are more, but this is the little unlock that gets us started.” These tribes include:

(1)  Motavatours—teenagers who have influence, named after start Bethany Mota who insists on fun above all else. Not as particular on healthy as much as the other tribes. It’s whimsical, playful, it’s Instagram worthy.
(2)  Boss Ladies—30s-to-40s professional women. Products better perform, be polished, poised, and make her look good. Her ideal experience is to feel tidy, collected, and elegant.
(3)  Eat, Pray, Lovers—empty-nesters. She has time on your hands, travels, years to explore and discover. New places. New experiences. Good for the world. She is a conscious consumer. She moved from Lipton to Pure Leaf whose tagline is “The best things in life are real.”

How to find a tribe? Use insights tools. Discern different clusters. Find the influencers and role models, then study the net of influencers and see who has staying power.

Then, make sure there is an open space in the market for this tribe. “If you focus on a genuine tribe and find something relevant to their world, then you will begin to truly innovation for real women.”

Michael Graber is the managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an insight, innovation, and strategy firm based in Memphis, TN, and the author of Going Electric. Visit

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