In pursuit of what it calls “the power of the purse”—the $20 trillion in purchasing power possessed by women around the world—Montreal agency Marketel has launched a new marketing-to-women division called Marketelle.
Marketel’s executive vice-president, Diane Ridgway-Cross, is leading the new division alongside creative director Jo-Ann Munro. Senior writer Jessie Sternthal, director of interactive experiences Marie-Pierre Blanchette, and vice-president, strategic planning and client services Nadia D’Alessandro round out Marketelle’s senior leadership.
Ridgway-Cross has extensive experience in the marketing-to-women space, having previously run Frank About Women, a division of Interpublic Group’s MullenNC that’s dedicated to helping brands better connect with women.
In addition to her agency experience, Ridgway-Cross also has extensive client-side experience in the U.S. that includes senior marketing roles with both The Men’s Wearhouse and Hanes Brands.
Ridgway-Cross said Frank About Women’s clients tended to fall into two categories: companies that hadn’t fully capitalized on the female market, such as automakers, financial services, home improvement, sports brands and alcohol brands; and companies that already targeted women, but felt they could do better either through traditional marketing, changes to the in-store environment or deploying new media channels.
“If a client’s ultimate objective is to sell more to women, it’s not about advertising to women,” she said. “It can take so many forms… I dislike the challenge of ‘We want an ad campaign.’”
The key to success for more male-focused brands, she said, is to retain the attributes that make them popular with men; the machismo of a brand like Jack Daniels, for example, can also make it appealing to women.
“A lot of times clients would come to us and want to do something, but they didn’t want to paint their brand pink,” said Ridgway-Cross. “They’ll say ‘We need to grow our business, but we’ve kind of maxed out and is there a new consumer base we could go to?’ It’s a huge opportunity.”
Marketelle will focus on four key areas: digital and mobile; branded content; social media; and shopper science. While Ridgway-Cross did not disclose an operating budget, she said the agency is investing “very heavily” in research and consumer insight tools. Marketel plans to promote the new division’s capabilities in new business initiatives, she said.
Marketelle has been in development for approximately six months. During that time, it has built a research panel comprised of 1,000 women across the country, as well as a network of female bloggers that will be used to help clients build a presence in both the blogosphere and social networks.
The agency has also conducted extensive research into women that has led to a new study, “How Brands Are Winning (and Losing) with Canadian Women,” that features insight on the top 10 brands women can’t live without, the state of marketing to women and advice women would give advertisers [see below].
“It was important to us to not just be a new logo slapped on the agency, but an insights and experts division,” said Ridgway-Cross.
While Marketelle does not have a dedicated staff, it has access to what Ridgway-Cross called a “concentrated group” of employees from within the main agency. These have been assembled into teams with specific areas of focus, such as female millennials, women in digital, mature women, marketing to moms, etc.
The division is launching with two anchor clients in L’Oréal Canada and Maybelline (“They give us real credibility in the beauty space,” said Ridgway-Cross), and has also picked up two new marketing-to-moms clients—one a new product development assignment, the other a Quebec-specific assignment—that she can’t disclose.
While the sheer size of the U.S. market means specialist divisions can thrive, Ridgway-Cross said the challenge in marketing to women remains the same for clients regardless of the size of their market. “Given the economic environment we’re in, the opportunity to grow with a new audience or be smarter with their current audience has a lot of potential,” she said, citing research indicating that four out of five women feel advertisers don’t get them.
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