Avoid Stereotyping Pitfalls
OK, so you’re ready to improve the feel of your store for your female patrons, so you dress up your camera cases with twirly ribbons and doilies, right? Wrong. “I think a big mistake retailers make is to assume you just have to add some pink or other clichés if you’re targeting women,” says Pageau. “It’s more subtle than that. It’s more about appreciating her time, making the store neat, clean, and efficient to shop.”
Another mistaken belief, according to Pageau, is that if you target women, men won’t shop in your store. “This is wrong,” he says. “In fact, studies have shown that men are more likely to patronize stores that treat well the women in their lives.”
Learned agrees. “Many retailers think that if they offer a couple of women’s classes and have a child’s play area, then they’ve served their women customers,” she says. “I also suspect that a lot of photo retailers are still assuming that women are technically less savvy than men or that all they do want is to make prints and buy frames. This is not Mayberry, and a lot of these women are way more efficient and passionate about their camera/photos/prints than men could ever be. Don’t talk down to women, and don’t assume that if a couple walks into a store that the man is the one who will do the final buying. Look both parties in the eye and make sure all of their questions are answered.”
Final followup is also a good toll to ensure that you will have repeat customers from the women’s side. “A successful lifestyle marketer looks at the customer as having a relationship with the store, so any activities—classes, events, newsletters, websites—that help drive that home will be helpful,” says Pageau.
Learned recommends a possible “digital owner’s club newsletter to keep the relationship going. “The customer gets her first issue a few days after her big camera purchase, and she can see that your store is there for her, right away,” she says. “Emails and newsletters with no real substance, however, are quickly seen as ploys, so don’t bother if you can’t commit time and effort to make them really info-packed. Classes and workshops are a great idea, but maybe have a ‘customer advisory board’ of your top five most passionate female customers to help you design those events to draw in like-minded women.”
In the end, it may just be a simple human connection that keeps the divas diverted to your merchandise. “The store at which a woman has found more in common with the staff members and owner will be the one she most often heads to—it will just be more of a fit from her perspective, even if she actually can’t identify or tell you why,” concludes Learned.