We discussed last week how trust was an essential component of doing business with women. Women insist on it, and businesses must earn it to be successful with the female market. In our second installment in Beyond Shrink It & Pink It, we’re discussing how to build a trustworthy brand. Trust is hard to quantify, but we know when it’s missing. There is no ‘instant fix’ for building trust, but here are 4 concrete steps brands can take:
- Stand for something – develop a brand personality that connects with women based on shared values. Think of Starbucks, with their commitment to equality and worker conditions, or Unilever, which has started the Project Sunlight. 73 percent of consumers say they would switch brands according to how they perceived its social purpose. Women’s attention to what a company stands for has led to the development of sites like Good Guide, which rank products based on health, environmental, and societal factors.
- Cleanliness and safety – women are keenly aware of their personal safety. Your store or retail outlet should feel inviting yet safe. This applies to both brick-and-mortar stores, as well as your online presence. If a business is dirty, or if an online retail site does not seem secure or up-to-date, women are less inclined to do business there. Women have stonger memories, and can remember the details of both pleasant and unpleasant experiences. Retailers definitely need to pay attention to detail to build the positive experiences.
- Strong customer service – Often brands are equivalent with their competitors – no better or no worse, such as Zara vs. Top Shop. The brands have equivalent selection and price point. What makes one ‘better’ than the other? When a brand is in this type of situation, customer service matters a lot. Consider Zappos.com. Their shoe selection isn’t the largest, and their prices aren’t the cheapest, yet the win over customers with great service. Whether this is knowledgeable sales staff or great online support, how a company serves its customers builds trust with women. For women, the amount of money that firms spend on customer service is equivalent to marketing. It is a reflection of the brand.
- Transparency – Women want businesses to be transparent and up front about the challenges or crises the brand is facing. But transparency extends beyond crisis management to standard business practices, such as transparent fees and pricing structures. If a female customer is caught off-guard by unexpected fees, or perceived deception in the purchase process, not only will they probably avoid doing business with that firm again, they will tell all their friends about the experience.
Many times, when a brand considers making itself more female friendly, they are concerned that the efforts might drive away male customers. Women may be more attuned to these factors, but all consumers appreciate when companies understand that their corporate responsibility, attention to safety, customer service, and transparent operations can result in more loyal customers.
A great read on this subject is Why She Buys, by Bridget Brennan. You can read our review of her book here.