Female Economy. Case Study

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Of all the consumer target groups available, women come out on top as far as marketing viability is concerned. They represent a group that offers the biggest opportunity for businesses due to the wide variety and complexity of their needs. However, research indicates that most women feel left out and that the companies manufacturing their products do not adequately meet their needs. This paper seeks to address the key issues that arise in the Female Economy and how companies can improve their approach regarding women.

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The first issue that arises is that marketing strategies are condescending to women. A good example is Dell’s effort of reaching women with their laptops through the Della website. It was wrongly assumed that all they needed to make the connection with women was to “go pink”. The result was a huge failure on the part of Dell. Most women reacted negatively to the website that supposedly contained tips on how to count calories or find recipes, among other things. To Dell’s credit, they responded quickly to that oversight and changed the website’s name and focus. (Silverstein & Sayre 2009, p.46). The response by dell shows that it understands people according to the 7ps of marketing.

Women feel unappreciated and overlooked, both in the workplace and in the marketplace. Instead of coming up with designs that meet specific needs, companies are continually upholding female stereotypes and offering products that are poorly developed. For instance, in the automobile industry, preference is given to speed without considering that single mothers might have children hence the need for more space. Such seemingly small and insignificant details make women feel ignored. (Silverstein & Sayre 2009 p.48). it is important to look into the product to provide customers with those that will fulfill their exact needs. This will minimize the chances of a company coming up with products that consumers do not want.

Most businesses have ignored to research the women. As Silverstein and Sayre (2009) put it, “most companies have much to learn about selling to women” (48). Although the market has made remarkable strides, women are still undervalued and the marketing strategies have failed to address this issue. Women have needs that the market has failed to address in the functionality of their products. This makes it difficult for women to find products that satisfy their needs and most of the time. At times, they have to buy products and alter them to fit their specific needs especially the clothes. Therefore, most women have no control over what they buy because businesses do not seem to mind the practicability of the goods they offer to the women thus making it very difficult for them to find suitable goods. On the other hand, businesses take time to research the needs of men and thus produce goods that meet their specific needs. For instance, men love fast cars and the industry has met this need by producing many models that have high speed (Silverstein & Sayre 2009). It is imperative for businesses to diversification as outlined in the Ansoff matrix to increase the market share.

Moreover, such products are marketed vigorously to men. This makes men aware of the products and they can capture this market niche. It is also common to see the products targeted for men being advertised by women who reinforce the stereotypes about the role of women in men’s lives. This kind of adverts may discourage women from buying products from such companies as they clearly show who their preferred clients are. Thus for any business to make it in the female economy, it needs to market its products vigorously to the women to capture the unlimited market they offer. This can be done through promotions that will tell potential consumers about a certain product and the benefits therein. Once the women are told why to buy certain products the businesses will increase their sales.

The industry of financial services has been touted as the major culprit in undermining women. It is a male-dominated world and women have complained about the poor services that they continually receive. They are treated like infants who can only grasp the basics of the financial markets. This is even though the number of wealthy women is increasing every year and more and more women are seeking financial independence by either going to school to acquire business acumen or starting their businesses once they acquire the knowledge (Meissner, 1990).

One of the key marketing issues from the Female Economy is price. Price is perhaps the most dominant factor that people consider when shopping and it determines to a large extent whether a company will retain its clients in the long run. A case in point is the Swedish H&M store. Over the years, it has managed to surpass its competitors in the apparel sector because it offers trendy but affordable products. Women are not afraid to shop there because they know the prices are within a reasonable range. The majority of its staff and management are also women, hence they know what their fellow women want (Silverstein & Sayre 2009).

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Food chains such as Wholefoods have managed to succeed despite their high prices because of the high quality of their products and the services offered by their staff. The clients, especially women, are willing to overlook the high prices because they know the product is as good as it looks, if not better. Tesco has been successful as a household store because it offers convenience for women who have very little time for shopping by stocking a variety of goods under one roof (Silverstein & Sayre 2009).

Le Chique is a medium-sized company

One such company is Le Chique. It is a medium-sized company that specializes in ladies’ and children’s clothing. The company’s main plant is located in a rural town that is ideal for its manufacturing purposes. It creates employment opportunities by enlisting the services of the local citizens for its factories. The company relies on locally available raw materials, specifically cotton and silk that are acquired from the surrounding farms. Occasionally, shortages are experienced, especially where silk is concerned. In such cases, the company is forced to import raw silk from silk farms outside the country. However, the warehouses and depots for the finished product are found in almost all the major towns. There is a wide network of distributors who are responsible for transporting the products to all the major outlets in the country. Some of the products are exported to neighboring Mexico by road (Dolan, 1991).

Like most medium-sized companies, Le Chique does not have a big budget that would enable them to conduct research and development. Instead, they engage in cheaper ways of finding out what their customers want. For instance, they deploy customer care staff at their retail outlets that are strategically positioned to receive customer complaints or suggestions. In that way, the management can make informed decisions regarding the company’s products. They also conduct routine surveys by asking their customers to fill in questionnaires. In that way, they can find out what their customers want and whether they are satisfied with the current products and services (Piercy, 1986).

Apart from its physical resources, the company has been able to develop its human resources to the point that the workers in each section are highly motivated to perform their tasks. Seminars are held regularly to inform the workers on the latest technology available as well as to remind them of the company’s regulations. Thorough training is offered to new employees who are instilled with a strong work ethic and the importance of treating customers with respect (Dolan, 1991).

Discipline is highly maintained and respect for authority is encouraged. Employees interact freely with their superiors, as there are no barriers to care. The company organizes an annual retreat for its employees regardless of their position. It is usually a time of bonding and relaxation away from their busy schedules. It also enables the employees to know each other better as they interact with each other’s families (Rice, 1984).

Moreover, the company instills in its employees a sense of respect for its clients maintaining the policy that “the customer is always right”. Complaints are handled in a professional manner and feedback is provided whenever possible.

The company has recently developed a department that is solely responsible for strategic planning. This involves making elaborate plans for the near future say, five years down the line. This enables the company to be more focused on its activities and to budget as well as spend wisely. Increased accountability leads to better management (Rice,1984).

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Le chique is known for its quality products. Women frequent its stores to buy clothes for their kids as well as their own because there is a wide variety to choose from and the prices are affordable. Also appealing to the eye is the way the items are arranged. It is very easy to find what one is looking for because each isle has a sign indicating what is to be found in the racks and similar items are grouped. For example, scarves and blouses are found next to each other so that one can match the two items without having to walk all over the store (Kotler and Lee, 1998).

According to Silverstein and Sayre (2009 p.50), there are about six products that feature heavily on women’s expenditure. The major ones on the list are food, apparel, fitness, and beauty. The last two are healthcare and financial services. Le chique has managed to capture some of these promising products for the female. The apparel sold in Le Chique caters to a variety of women and this has resulted in many customers frequenting the store, as they are sure to find clothing that fits their different body types. The store offers a variety of clothes sizes because they understand that not all women fall under one body size. This makes it very comfortable for women to shop even when they do not have typical body sizes that most apparel stores mostly cater to. Buying in this store does not patronize the women or remind them that they do not have a body size that the society considers ideal (Silverstein & Sayre 2009).

Le Chique seems to understand the needs of women and go ahead to fulfill them. They fill a gap that has been left wide open by other businesses that have chosen to ignore the needs of women. The company understands the potential women have as short and long-term customers who can propel their business to greater success now and in the future.

For any marketing strategy to be effective, it is important to understand the potential consumers’ behavior and demographics. This makes it possible to understand what they require to be able to know the right products or services to offer them. The female economy is large and the great perspective lies within the six sectors. There are different women consumer segments in the market. The different categories have different needs hence specific requirements. For a company to be successful it has to understand its market growth and market share. A business with a big market share has the potential for faster growth.

The tables below look at Le Chique’s marketing strategies.

Table 1: Ansoff matrix

Key Strategies for Le Chique Clothing Line Detailed Information
Product development
  • The company has various products for women and children
  • The company has good customer service
Market development
  • The company sells its products across the country and abroad in Mexico
  • There are different groups of customers the company targets-women and children.
  • The company seeks to reach more people by increasing its distribution channels
Diversification
  • Greater customer value to customers by offering quality clothes.
  • the company has various products and uses various raw materials for the same
  • The company seeks opinions from customers before producing other products.
Market penetration
  • The prices in Le Chique are competitive
  • Provision of quality customer care service
  • Advertise new products to the customers more forcefully

Table 2: 7ps of marketing

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Product Life Cycle Growth Maturity
Marketing Objectives Diversify in product and maintain quality Maintain and attract brand loyalty and increase brand awareness
Competition Compete at par with others
Product Produce a variety of new clothing designs Make a known Product line
Price Maintain affordable prices to retain customers
Increase
market share
Try to keep and increase market share and profit
Promotion Emphasize the qualities that make the products different from competitors Explain to the customers the benefit of buying Le Chique products
Place increase distribution channels More distribution channels

Table 2 emphasizes on the importance of promotion based on quality products and diversification of product distribution.

Table 3:

Opportunities
  • Increase the demand for the clothes through promotion
  • Expansion to a new target segment and increase market share
  • Get more suppliers of raw materials
Threats
  • Stiff competition from established brands
Strength
  • Innovative
  • Diverse products
  • Wider customer base
Weaknesses
  • inadequate budget for its marketing strategy
  • lacks many distributions channels abroad

Table 3 shows how the company can improve on its marketing strategies by looking at its strengths and weaknesses to ensure that it reaches more customers and retain them.

Finally, Le Chique Company has put in place an effective marketing strategy that works. This is seen in the way the company does its marketing even without using a lot of money. They utilize the staff to get feedback from customers. Using the feedback, they can produce clothing that is in line with their customers’ needs. This enables them to know how to improve the current products and design new ones as well. Furthermore, through the study of the women segments, the company will be able to increase its customer base and penetrate a wider market. On the other hand, technology has advanced and Le Chique can use it to improve the quality of its products. This will attract more customers due to its high quality. They can also use it to advertise their products, especially through the internet. This will enable the company to become a cash cow in the future.

References

Dolan, J., 1991.Strategic marketing management. Harvard: New York.

Kotler, P. & Lee, N. 1998. Marketing in the Public Sector. Chester: Pearson.

Meissner, G., 1990. Strategic international marketing. Chester: Pearson.

Piercy, N., 1986. Marketing budgeting. London: Taylor& Francis Publishers.

Rice, C., 1984. Marketing planning strategies: a guide for small or medium-sized School. Journal of International Business Studies, 23 (3), pp 533-49.

Silverstein, M., Sayre, K., 2009. Women Want More: How to Capture your share of Fastest growing market. Web.

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