Why Brands Lag in Marketing to Women and Moms

Posted on by Patty Odell

Marketing executive Tania Haigh, most recently the lead for women and moms marketing initiatives at McDonald’s USA, has launched Magnolia Insights, Inc., a marketing strategy firm specializing in marketing to women and moms. Here, she shares her thoughts on why there’s a lag in effective marketing to this group and how brands can better position themselves.

Magnolia Insights, Tania Haigh
Tania Haigh

CHIEF MARKETER: What are the most important insights you learned about marketing to women and moms while at McDonald’s USA?
HAIGH: I established an expertise on the Family Business where I learned that women are truly the lead influencers and decision makers of the family visit. Today you’ll hear that mom is no longer the sole decision maker and all of the core family members including kids are contributing to the family decisions. At the end of the day, the woman/mom is still the lead influencer.

CM: What surprised you that you learned at McDonald’s
HAIGH: I also learned that women don’t just eat salads—they love burgers, fries—you name it! It’s easy to stereotype women and their food needs but at the end of the day, the entire menu at McDonald’s appeals to women.

CM: What do you see as the lag in effective marketing to women and moms?
HAIGH: A lot of stereotypes of women and moms continue to come through in advertising and marketing communications today. And what fires me up the most is that the ethnic woman is not represented as much as she should be given the demographics of our country. Latinas, African American and Asian women have their own nuances and insights yet there’s still common ground across all of these women.

CM: What are the biggest mistakes brands make when marketing related to women and moms?
HAIGH: Overall, it’s not even considering women as a stand-alone target and in turn lumping them into a general market. You will often see brands dedicate resources to multicultural but none to women targeted initiatives. I believe this poses a big opportunity for brands.

CM: How can brands better position themselves with women and moms?
HAIGH: First of all, brands need to better understand if/how/when their product or service resonates with Women. And if they don’t have the answers, go get them. Invest in research resources that will lead to greater insights and in turn tighter strategies. In addition, brands should assess their product line up and portfolio—if there’s nothing there that strongly appeals to women, innovate to close that gap.

CM: What needs to change internally at brand companies to make this happen?
HAIGH: Brands need to be brazen about leading with women insights in product development or communications briefs. There’s really no downside and the ROI will be there given that they make most of the purchases today.

CM: What was the motivation for founding Magnolia Insights?
HAIGH: I’ve been a marketer for 15 years, the bulk at McDonald’s USA, including five years working on the Family Business—Happy Meal brand, Food Quality, Brand Reputation and mom communications.   I had always wanted to be an entrepreneur and business owner and I found a topic that I am extremely passionate about and believe in from a business perspective. I launched Magnolia to help brands be smarter in the ways they engage the most important consumer group for their business—women and moms.


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