By Bridget Brennan
Crown Business, 2009
On seeing Why She Buys on the list of GBR books, I was quick to offer a review. Understanding purchasing motivation is absolutely imperative to ensuring a positive ROI on marketing expenditures and a topic that I enjoy.
The author contends that gender is the most powerful determinant in a person’s view of the world more than race, age, income, creed, or ethnicity. She informs us about women’s overwhelming influence on almost every purchasing decision of note in today’s economy; the word used by the author is “dominate.”
Female purchasing drivers must be studied with the same intensity as a new industry or foreign market, Brennan admonishes, an argument that I believe should be given serious consideration by both sales and marketing professionals. Even when the female is not the primary household decision maker, she almost certainly still has veto power something I am learning first hand as I prepare to purchase a new automobile.
Why She Buys offers the marketer a great deal of useful case discussions ranging from Proctor and Gamble’s Swiffer cleaning products line to Callaway Golf Clubs. Another area of valued content is the lifestyle analyses of modern women as young single working professionals, working mothers, divorces, and widows, followed by helpful suggestions for offering services to fill the needs of each.
One feature of the book that I did not find of great value was what Brennan termed the “mencyclopedia,” a dubious list of vernacular or catchphrases used by modern women. Although cute it may have been better placed in a witty blog than a marketing “how-to” book.
Why She Buys would appear to provide the most value to a male professional intent on selling to women as most of the demographic and psychographic profiles, I imagine, would be naturally understood by women (I tread lightly here). That said, if the book was in fact written for male marketers, the target audience may find that the author has a tone that can be somewhat shrill and off-putting. At the beginning of the book, when the case is being made for the undeniable importance of the feminine consumer, one senses an indignant tone from the author. Yes, many members of the male gender have incorrectly stereotyped female consumers, but surely, the reader does not want to be made to feel guilty for the past transgressions of his gender?
Nevertheless and in spite of this initial tone, I found Why She Buys to be a worthwhile and valuable read for marketers.