Wake up big business: Here's how to better value women and make 2017 a seriously profitable year - Women's Agenda

Wake up big business: Here’s how to better value women and make 2017 a seriously profitable year

It starts with women. Marketing expert Bec Brideson urges businesses to change up old habits and appreciate the value of women as employees, customers and brand advocates. 

In KPMGs 2016 global CEO report, 86% of CEOs cited a lack of time as a barrier to thinking strategically about the forces of disruption in business. Eighty eight per cent reported being concerned about loyalty with existing consumers, and 89% said they’re confident that they can succeed in transforming their company.

So given they’re confident about transforming their company — but don’t have the time to ‘think strategically’ — I want to help them out. Below are four ways businesses can make more money in 2017. 

 1. Get your hands dirty in the research. Ask questions that haven’t ever been asked before. 

Get your “growth mind set” on, and encourage your teams to find new opinions about old thought patterns. Given we’re living in a time of endless data, we can often find too many assumptions being made about behaviour and feelings, and this leads to opportunities being overlooked.  

The same questions give us the same hackneyed answers. This single lane thinking reminds me of the drill company thinking they were in the power tool business, when in fact they were in the business of making holes. And we all know the story of the intern who came up with a way to sell more toothpaste by making a bigger hole in the tube. Don’t you love the smell of fresh thinking and new approaches?

Procter and Gamble did business unusual with their beauty brand Dove. Rather than undertake the same approach to research, they trusted a few outsiders to find a new way in to seek out the truth in the beauty business – a Harvard Professor and a London School of Economics PhD. A couple of new eyes and brains to a category problem set them on a completely new path of examination. Twelve years later the results still show growth and ROI from an unorthodox approach to the same problem.

2. Put your monocultures on notice, remove groupthink, sack the myopic business partners.

In 2016 in the US, CMOs Antonio Lucio of HP, Pepsi’s Brad Jakeman and Ann Simonds of General Mills put their money where their (customers) mouths are. They asked for an accurate reflection of their consumers in their agency teams. They justifiably exercised their power as the client to demand a smarter approach to their business. Hopefully, this is just the beginning and the catalyst that will bring about greater change. It’s time the advertising industry followed suit and reflects the diverse world that purchase product.  

It is this kind of perspicacity and willingness that is required to redesign the system and better understand women with their unmet and overlooked needs as consumers. Time to transform our old ways of working and operating, in not only the marketing and communications, but also all industries and all businesses today.

3. Get more women in your business. Appoint more women to your board. Results show Boards with more women make more money.

Diversity is better for business. Plain and simple. It has been a much-discussed topic with executives for at least a decade. Diversity translates to innovation, improved outcomes and bigger profit. Catalyst, McKinsey and EY present countless in-depth studies that show diversity in all forms including gender, race and disability will yield upwards of 15% greater returns.

In 2015 McKinsey published a study “Diversity Matters” where they examined data sets for 366 public companies across range of industries in Canada, Latin America, UK and US.  Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Companies in bottom quartile, both for gender, ethnicity and race, were statistically less likely to achieve above-average financial returns than the average companies in the data set – they are lagging, not leading.  In the UK, greater gender diversity on the senior-executive team corresponded to the highest uplift in our data set: for every 10% increase in gender diversity, EBIT rose by 3.5%.

In 2016, Peterson Institute for International Economics & EY created a study called ‘Is Gender Diversity Profitable’? It examined 22,000 public companies across 91 different countries in 2014 about half of which had no female executives. Moreover 60% had no women on their boards and fewer than 5% had female CEOs. Evidence from a Global Study found that companies with at least 30% female leaders had net profit margins up to 6% points higher than companies with no women in top ranks.

The facts speak for themselves. The latest 1Australian report showed that women in full-time employment earn almost 23% less than men. And at CEO level just 16.3% of women are represented, making up just 37.4% of managers despite making up 46% of the workforce.  The Global Rankings from the United Nations Gender Inequality Index 2 show Australia and the US in positions 46th and 47th out of 144 countries. 

4. Add female-think to your process of design and development.

If Philip Kotler was the father of segmentation, then marketing needs a new parent.

Add more steps, refine the methodology, don’t think efficiently – think more deeply. Marketing process was developed by men in a different era and we need to give the process an overhaul through a female lens. Our brain chemistry and our behaviour are different and significant enough to rethink old world marketing. Try segmentation processes that consider her options, her concerns, her alternatives and ideally what they would look like. Bring in an A-team to solve the problems – try a new approach, and a new lens that works for the nuances and subtleties of your business and your customers. Be bold, try a new tact – test it, refine it, launch it.  

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