Tapping Today’s Culture? Swiffer Vs. Target

{Originally Published on Learned on Women}

To feed both my quick hit Tweets (I’m @AndreaLearned) and longer blog posts, I  survey the many marketing-related news stories on a daily basis.  Today, I found plenty of food for thought.  Two articles in the same MediaPost newsletter caught my eye: 1) a story of Swiffer doing promotions at the much-buzzed Blogher conference, and 2) the story of Target sponsoring “staycation” events.  Those news bits brought to my mind the broad continuum of marketing to women (over which the pendulum regularly swings) – from pinky, pink-ness to transparency – all in one place. Fascinating!

The background on those two tales -

(Visibly pink pitch) P&G’s Swiffer appealed to the girly side of female bloggers by sponsoring a pre-event Blogher lounge, SocialLuxe, which was described this way in Karl Greenberg’s MediaPost article:

As part of the partnership, P&G and Swiffer will offer guests manicures, pedicures, something called “clean-tinis,” and the first-ever BlogLuxe Award presentation — awards given by bloggers to bloggers — to recognize outstanding efforts in the blogging community.

(Full-on transparent approach) According to MediaPost’s Sarah Mahoney, Target is leveraging awareness of the bad economy/staycation trend to appeal to women and families trying to have fun with less money this year by:

…sponsoring a long list of local art events, offering 2,200 free days at more than 100 museums, theaters and cultural institutions throughout the country.

One approach resonates with today’s culture and the other seems lost in never-never land.  One is relevant to a lot more women for a longer period of time and one is fun for a small amount of women who may well not remember it a few days later.  One encourages/embraces a larger trend toward experiencing the wonders of your own “backyard,” and the other is counter to the more sustainable sensibilities that a lot of the members of its target market exhibit in their real and daily lives.

The pinkwashed, mani-/pedi angle was likely buzzing with activity and taken advantage of by plenty of early Blogher attendees.  By that measurement the promotion will be deemed a huge success.  But, do the SocialLuxe lounge event and Swiffer demonstrations/give-aways really speak to who those women deeply and for the longer term?

The transparent, not obviously “for her,” family culture and entertainment approach, on the other hand, can be appreciated by women as well as their kids and husbands.  It really does speak to a lot of women, in their language and around their values – especially right now.

Of course, we can go deep into each brand’s corporate history and practices, and pick them both apart in various ways.  No brand is, or will ever be, perfect.   My point was to simply take two marketing news-worthy stories on an average day in July and examine them for relevance to our immediate culture.  What do YOU see when you look around yourself today?  Which of those two marketing efforts would catch and hold your attention?

Pitching a product that is the antithesis of sustainable in a quick-hit, girly way to those assumed to still do all the housework (how 1950s) seems like a major disconnect right about now.  One more thing: do non-women-focused conferences have sponsored manly beer and sports caves with lawn mower and power tool demonstrations?  Argh.

What marketers have learned, especially in the past year or so, is that female and male consumers have very high expectations of the corporations behind the brands, as well as their marketing approaches.  They demand finely-tuned relevance to the issues and values that match theirs, or they can easily find another brand.

Is a pink drop in the promo bucket wise for Swiffer?  Once the super-influential target market of women bloggers gets back to writing, will cleaning gizmos or sponsored free museum visits this summer inspire their positive words?

Editor’s Pick by Melissa at Breaking The Dress Code: Andrea Learned, the co-author of Don’t Think Pink: What Really Makes Women Buy and How To Reach Your Share of This Crucial Market, is a leading women’s market expert, speaker and writer.She specializes in helping traditionally male-dominated industries learn about women’s ways of buying in order to serve everyone more effectively. Andrea shares her consumer gender insights and analysis via her Learned On Women blog, and regular contributions to the Huffington Post and the MarketingProfs.com “Daily Fix” and Women-omics Follow her on Twitter @AndreaLearned and download her latest manfiesto on ChangeThiscom: Beware The Gender Gap

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One Comment to “Tapping Today’s Culture? Swiffer Vs. Target”

  1. “One more thing: do non-women-focused conferences have sponsored manly beer and sports caves with lawn mower and power tool demonstrations? ”

    Um. Yes!

    As a refugee from a couple of male-dominated (not male-focused, I should add) industries, I’ve seen booths where one could meet a Playboy bunny, booths where one could shoot baskets, booths where technology was demonstrated by showing sports 24/7 (and not just at the Sports Channel booth), and of course at most booths, it was always beer that was the libation offered.

    Social Luxe was not a BlogHer event, and Swiffer not a BlogHer sponsor, so I can’t comment on what went into planning that particular activity. But I’ve seen the conventional wisdom floating around that only women and their interests get exaggerated and stereotyped, and my personal experience is that it’s not true.

    At BlogHer itself we did have Tide and Clorox as sponsors. We also had HP, Intel, Microsoft. Sometimes my life does indeed feel like it’s dominated by the 3 big Cs: Cooking, Cleaning and Computers. No kids necessary to have a house to clean, a mouth (my own) to feed, and an operating system to upgrade :)

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