Amber Anderson is the co-founder of Tote and Pears. Tote and Pears is a branding agency with a female focus. Even beyond that they look at not only women, but the different facets of where women are, from life stage to physical location and more.
Women and Purchasing Power
85% of women make or influencer purchasing decisions in both consumer and tech. Consumer products makes sense and is not surprising especially when it comes to them being moms. However, I found this surprising with B2B and tech especially with women being an emerging audience. This goes to show that we can't ignore women as their own audience. We need to include them (us) in our marketing efforts and even look at them as their own segment.
We have to go beyond just targeting women. We have to meet them where they are from life stage to ethnicity to physical location. A women in Minnesota is going to be very different than a women in Florida.
Kerry Guard: Hello and welcome to the MKG podcast where we help demand gen marketers grow their companies through SEO, digital advertising and analytics. At MKG, we hire experts. And to help me introduce today's guest, I have an Account Director expert, Jenna Hasenkampf. Jenna, hello.
Jenna Hasenkampf: Hi Kerry. Hi, everybody else.
Kerry Guard: Thanks for joining.
Jenna Hasenkampf: No problem. Good way to end the week.
Kerry Guard: So Jenna, in your household, who makes the purchasing decisions?
Jenna Hasenkampf: Most of the time it's definitely me. I am a total research nerd and I overthink everything. A perfect example of this was I was looking at holiday photo options for my family because I really like during the cheesy ones and I spent like an hour and a half researching all of the different costs and dates and styles going on in New Orleans before settling on let's see when we these last two years a good time. But yeah, from cars, to technology, to vet like it's almost always me sitting there doing the research and making that decision. The only exception would be grocery shopping because grocery stores totally stress me out and my husband does all the cooking so he is Lord of the grocery store list. I occasionally throw some things on there I need but mostly yeah, I stay out of that.
Kerry Guard: Does he help you make the decisions or is it pretty much all you. You're like this is what we're rolling with it and he’s like, cool.
Jenna Hasenkampf: I usually make him participate when it's a larger decision, for example, where we went car shopping and we needed a larger car for our family. I spent much time researching, I also went to test drives by myself, and then I narrowed it down to two options and he was literally like, just tell me which one we should get, like this is a huge decision, if you don't like it, I don't want to be all like, it was your decision, it was more like a plausible deniability. I wanted him to participate.
Yeah, mostly it's me sitting down doing the research, narrowing it down to a couple options and then having him weigh in. I'm also really indecisive, though sometimes it helps me to get someone to make the decision for me, like we got our living room rug, and I narrowed it down to three options. And he hated one because it's no, because he's like, no, just whatever you want. But I really like to know that we both signed off on something when it's going to have a significant presence in our life, whether it's the living room rug, or the car that we're going to drive.
Kerry Guard: So that's really interesting, because my husband and I are totally the opposite. He is a researcher. I'm “see it, like it, buy it”. He's trained me a bit in the last 10 years where I'm definitely better at looking at reviews, digging in a little deeper, making sure it's the right choice. But generally, if I'm making a decision, I see it as a bite for him. I have to mull it over for six months before I even pull the trigger on anything. And especially if it's a big purchase, I generally like to default to him when it comes to because I know he did the research. But it's interesting because Amber said in our interview today that women either make or influence 85% of purchase decisions, which totally threw me, especially given my household. Was that a shocker for you too or were you like, oh, yeah, no, duh.
Jenna Hasenkampf: No, it wasn't. But I also think I've worked in a lot of B2C and consumer packaged goods advertising, where we talk a lot about the purchase power of women and why they're such an important demographic to target. So that wasn't a big shocker to me. But I always like hearing it.
Kerry Guard: I definitely weigh in more on things for the kids, for sure. But from a tech standpoint, or from a big purchase standpoint, I rely a bit heavier on my husband. And what Amber was saying was that it doesn't really matter whether it's B2B or B2C, women influence 85% of purchasing decisions, which I think for our clients. It was just an interesting sort of revelation.
Getting to Amber's podcast, let's see what she has to say.
Kerry Guard: Well, thank you for joining me on the MKG podcast.
Amber Anderson: Pleasure’s all mine. Thanks for having me.
Kerry Guard: Why don't you tell the audience about yourself, Amber, and why you started to Tote and Pears.
Amber Anderson: So my name is Amber Anderson. I'm the co-founder and Head of Strategy of Tote and Pears, which is a female focused branding agency. We're based out of Atlanta, but we have clients all over the world. And I started Tote and Pears, specifically because my background comes from tech. I was a tech strategist and Product Manager initially in corporate and then I moved into consulting and one of the things that I noticed frequently is that the people that were around the table deciding what products were being built and how we marketed them, very rarely reflected the people who are actually buying them. And in many cases, we would put things into the market that may do okay or even look successful. But we could do so much better if we were more in tune with what it was that our customers were looking for. And I felt like we could do a better job than just throwing up personas, but actually bringing the women to the table, who were influencing the majority of the purchasing decisions. And so after several years of kind of working in the tech space and helping to build products, from my perspective, I branched off and started my own agency, and then really focused 100% on the female market, shifting from doing just general business consulting, to actually focusing on the end consumer, which is women. About a year and a half ago, we rebranded but we've been doing the work in the female space for about two to three years.
Kerry Guard: In terms of those tech companies or even other brands that you've worked with, who would you say is the audience that you work with in terms of CMO, Marketing Manager or Product Development? Who do you work with mostly, from outside?
Amber Anderson: Yeah, so it goes across the gamut. Usually, we're going to work with an executive. So it's going to be either the founder or VC firm that has a product that they're putting into the market. Or it's going to be the research and development team, if you're looking to do something in a large organization, or a corporation that's going to be forward facing really needs to be cutting edge, they're gonna hire us to come in and make sure that we're thinking not just in the short term, but because our expertise is going to be female focused with intersectionality and journey in mind, understanding where she is today, and where she's going to be in the next 20 years. And so research and development teams eat our stuff up. And then certainly, you know, the marketing department is always gonna be very interested, and CMOs or VPs, and larger corporations are looping in to help make sure that their team is set up for the right stuff.
Kerry Guard: I'm going to pause for just a second because you mentioned the word intersectionality. And I've been listening to your podcast lately, which talks all about intersectionality. And I think it'd be really great to just touch on that because I had never heard that word before I started listening to your podcast, which you guys do a great job of really diving into and helping your audience understand that. But can you brief my audience a little bit on what that word means? And how Tote and Pears sort of helps bring that to light for those clients?
Amber Anderson: Yeah, sure. So intersectionality is a super powerful word. And it's powerful, because it means so many different things. And when you stop for a minute, it becomes really clear. So at the end of the day, what it means is that people are more than just one identity. So when we do things like say, we're going to focus on women, we have to recognize that women are a very multidimensional and dynamic group, right? You have women that are of all ages, races, cultures, languages, some have children, some have never had children, some are married, some have never been married. And that each of these different layers of our identity, when you add them together make us into a completely different persona, right. And a great example I give is someone that's at the tip of Washington State, that say it's a white woman with no children in her 60s is going to be very different than somebody at the completely opposite end of the country in Florida, who might be a Latina woman who comes from the Dominican Republic, who has three children, and speaks English as her second language, right? And so the way that we look at these women and understand where they are in their journey, and how the different identities intersect, and blend and blur, the more we understand about that, the more we can connect with them.
And so what we said at Tote and Pears is we're absolutely female focused, but we have an intersectional perspective, which means that we recognize all these different identities are important when it comes to understanding women, and building products and marketing to them. But also the overlay of these identities, and how they're going to change as she changes is something that we, we just, like to get so good at. And that's where we really put our energy is recognizing these differences. And intersectionality is a key component of that.
Kerry Guard: Do you have an example of how that was? So I obviously have a lot of tech clients, I'm in the tech space, and a lot of our clients are probably targeting big enterprise companies that are going to be maybe in the cities like San Francisco or it could even be in places like Minneapolis, which are totally two different places, you know, how have you sort of looked at from a tech perspective and intersectionality. Handling tech companies not only try and tap into the women audience, which is, you know, an undertaking, but also tying that into how these women are different based off of where they are and who they might be.
Amber Anderson: Yeah, I mean, I think the most important thing to understand about women is that women dominate the majority of consumer purchasing decisions. Over 85% of consumer purchasing decisions are made by a woman or influenced by a woman, and I need to stop and make sure everybody comprehends what that means. That means that women are not just buying lipstick and nail polish. Women are buying 8 out of 10, if not more of all products that go into their household. From the security cameras that come into the household, to the door, to deciding who's going to do the lawn, to picking which refrigerator we're going to buy, which cars we buy, the travel that we do, with schools, our kids attend, our husbands, what they're wearing, the type of deodorant that they're going to put on their skin, their watch, everything that comes into the household, for the most part, a woman has a heavy hand on. And so when people stop and think about that, even in their own household, it just starts to ring true, right.
So I think the first thing for people to realize is if you're creating a product, and it's a consumer facing product, that a woman is going to be heavily influenced in the decision making. And if she's not buying the product for herself, she's either influencing who makes it down to the top three, for somebody else to make the final decision, or she's buying it for someone else. Whether that be herself or her husband, her spouse, her children, her extended family, women are dominating. And they lead and have always led in that space.
So that is a mind shift change for the majority of tech teams to understand. Okay, really, who is my target audience, right. And once we understand what the woman's role is, we either need to make sure that she's not a heavy influencer in this case, or once we understand that she does play a part, what is the part that she's playing? And so if you were to ask me for an example, I think you were saying, like, cities were one example that you gave, right, to create tech products. So we worked with a tech company that was doing Smart City type of technology, right? And so you get into the point where you're talking about, let's say, your car is having IoT technology involved. And understanding perhaps, who's going to be the one making the buying decisions for those cars? Or where are we going? Or how do we make those connections to the places that she's traveling? And what do we want to do with the data once we collect it to help influence other spaces? Right? So once we understand where somebody's moving, based on the technology, what is she buying? How is she traveling? How is her family traveling, then what can we do with that data to be able to do other things. And that's a space where, for example, it starts off as something really simple, like Internet of things, technology, that seems like it's not very sexy. But when you start to really dig into the different ways in which it interacts with the customer, then there's a lot of cool creative things that you can do to leverage the products as well as the data that comes out of it.
Kerry Guard: You help clients and brands understand the audience. But you go beyond that, right? Because you talked about being a full service agency. So you actually take that information and bring it into the market. Correct?
Amber Anderson: Yeah, exactly. So the way that we view it is branding to us is not just your logo. Branding is about understanding that you have a product that you're putting into the market that obviously either solves a problem, or it capitalizes on an opportunity. And if we start from the beginning, our problem or the opportunity, then the first step that we would do is you need to understand the audience that's in that market. Based on the audience, then we build products that are going to match that audience's needs or their challenges, right? So it's building with the audience in mind, which is why we decided to go with the female focused angle saying, Hey, we get the audience. Now let's build it right the first time, right? So you start with understanding what the market looks like? Who is the audience in the market, and then creating the requirements for the product itself around that audience, understanding them so entrenched. And then once you do that, then the rest of it becomes a lot easier. The positioning, the messaging, the visual design, and the marketing to that audience is all part of the process. But it starts in the beginning with understanding the audience.
Kerry Guard: Well, it has to because you have to understand who you're going after, and where they are, and what stage of life they're in, and how that's going to impact them, right? Because you don't want to just build a landing page talking to a family, when there's people out there and women out there who are actually going to use the product too, might not have a family. So you want to create an opportunity where they're going to connect with that, beyond you know, how somebody else would essentially use it?
Amber Anderson: Well yeah, and I mean, what we find a lot of the time is that people will go after an audience and because they're generalizing, they'll make the landing page, all the same, right? Not recognizing that in some cultures, perhaps the language that you use might be a turn off, or you have no imagery of people that you think are going to buy the product because you didn't think them and they actually when they look at it don't see themselves so they don't think that it's for them. There's just so many different layers that take into consideration people and how they're going to perceive your products, that if you don't do the work to actually take intersectionality into account, you might be isolating a really great segment of your population.
And I can give you an example. There's lots of companies that have popped up, for example, with fertility treatments, both technology companies and medical companies, but a lot of technology companies are leveraging technology to help women that are having trouble conceiving, or families that are having trouble conceiving. And when we looked at the data, almost all of those companies were targeting white women that were looking to conceive, although what was really happening is black women are two times more likely to struggle with infertility than white women. And so by doing this blanket, you know, we're just going to target women that want to conceive, and looking at their, you know, their perception of who this audience was, they missed over their demographic, right, simply by not taking into consideration that this layer of race may be a factor. And if it was a factor, then by contributing to making sure that that audience understood that the product was for them, simply by adding images of women of color. And so those are the types of things again, that we just find, you know, we get excited about, because it's this concept of really having to do the work, which we enjoy, but other companies, without even thinking about it, don't realize they may be missing out.
Kerry Guard: 85% of women have some hand or complete hand in a purchase decision, then you absolutely should have women as part of all your marketing materials, right, it doesn't mean that you should leave men out, because, I'm married, and my husband and I actually find that we make most decisions together on anything that comes in the house from buying a sofa, to buying a Kindle for our kids. And so for, depending on what your product is, to me, you need both, right. And in some cases, you're going to need only lemon or you might need to be more heavy handed with women. And you'll need men to a certain extent, but it's this balancing act, right. Like, I feel like a lot of times women are just being left out. Or it is to your point being very generalized. You know, I work in the tech space, and I have a lot of tech clients, and all of our marketing is very general speaking to just, you know, the audience of tech, not necessarily men or women, or necessarily even the intersectionality of any of those people of where they live or taking into account their life stage. And just being like, this is a product for a business owner living anywhere in the United States.
Amber Anderson: Right. So there's a couple things. So one, women are making or influencing over 85% of consumer purchasing decisions. And what that means is, even if you and your husband make the decision on the candle, who researched that candle was the one that was going to come to the table to be purchased, right? Like, is it your husband that did all of the research, or when you step back and think about it was it you that went through and said Here are the top three options. And then we come to the table and say out of these three, let's pick the one we're going to buy. And in those cases, we're saying women are the ones that are doing that research. Women are the ones that don't make the final decision that are narrowing down the list. We had a guest on our podcast, she was the former founder of Blogher, which was a large media platform focused on women who gave the analogy of like Instacart. And she was saying people think women are the ones doing the grocery shopping. But in reality, women are the ones creating the grocery list. So if you don't even make her list, she's not going to buy it. And that's why you need to make sure that you're paying attention. Because if you don't even capture her attention in the beginning stages, then you're not even in consideration. So yeah, absolutely. We don't exclude men. But what we're saying is, we've been excluding women. And that's the problem.
Kerry Guard: I know that some of the tech companies I'm currently working with, the marketing department that they've sort of built are actually women focused, which is really cool to see. And so now it's like, Okay, now that you've worked internally on bringing those women to the table, and how they should market you should look externally and actually bringing in the purchase decision makers of being women into your marketing capabilities as well, which I just think is something that's has, I'm looking for that turn to happen. I think it's gonna be really interesting when it does.
Amber Anderson: And I pushed even further and said, you know, you should include women who are building the product, right? Because if you built the product and she wasn't included, then it's great that we can market it as much as we possibly want. But if it's not really built with her in mind, then you know, it's only going to get so far.
Kerry Guard: It's true. Well thank you, Amber for joining me, this was so insightful. I think what you guys are doing at Tote and Pears is amazing. And I think bringing women more to the forefront in everything that we do is just going to help brands go to that next level because they're just missing a piece of that puzzle. And a big piece of the pie for sure.
Amber Anderson: Yeah. Well, Kerry, I appreciate you having me on board. Thank you so much.
Kerry Guard: So that was Amber Anderson. Jenna, this topic gets a little more complicated when applying this to the tech and B2B versus the grocery store example Amber gives. So how do you think this applies to the space MKG works in with our clients?
Jenna Hasenkampf: Well, I think the piece of zero in on for me was where she said that we're not excluding men, we're just saying that we've been excluding women. And that's the problem. So that's the part that I kind of focus on because you're right, our targets, there isn't always a clear way that those specific demographics translate to the way that we're writing ads, or even SEO copy. But I think there's some nuances in there that we could think about, like where our ads are popping up, and when. So I'm absolutely certain that there are times of day that we could find that women are more likely to be doing these kinds of research and open to these particular suggestions around whether or not they have kids, for example, which one of the examples you and I have talked about how our brain shut off after 8pm At this point, because we have young kids and we are just not in the zone, where as some of the other target demographic that might be the perfect time for them to be sitting on their computer and open to research kind of mindset where they've been too hustling during the day to really be thinking about a new security cloud option for them. So I think that's something that I would like to think about and also where it's always a big question about where the C suite is consuming ads. We've had plenty of clients ask us it's always tough to kind of narrow in but I think it's something we could think about more is where C suite spending their time on the internet during work hours might differ across those different demographics she was talking about.
Kerry Guard: I definitely think there's some opportunity there for clients to think differently.
Well, thank you so much Jenna, for joining me. If you'd like to learn more about Amber and Tote and Pears, you can visit toteandpears.com. Amber also has a really great podcast on intersectionality. If you'd like to check that out and learn more, you can do that across Apple and Google podcasts as well.
Amber Anderson is a mother and wife. She is also a creative, a strategist and co-founder of Tote and Pears, the agency that designs and markets products, services and experiences for women and their families. Amber helps businesses and brands connect with women authentically by highlighting the multidimensional experiences that shape their identities.