On Earning Trust and Understanding Women

SheReports Interview

Benish Shah is the vice president of marketing at Raised Real, a new start-up offering a subscription service for organic baby food. Previously she was head of product marketing and strategy at Refinery29, a lifestyle site for women. Shah recently spoke to SheReports about digital marketing to women consumers in the retail space.

You work for companies that are very women-focused.

At Raised Real, it’s actually both women and men, because you really want to think about parenting as a cohesive effort now. In general, though, yes, most household incomes are spent and controlled by women. And at Refinery29, I was the head of product marketing and strategy, which included our entire shopping product. So we were really analyzing the user behavior behind what it takes to influence our audience of women to make a purchase.

What have you learned about speaking to that audience?

There’s this thought in the digital world that women want gamified shopping. In a lot of ways, this is guys trying to create a fun shopping experience for women. And the reality is that’s just not how women shop.

Shopping for women, it’s twofold. It’s either an emotional purchase — because you’re in the mood for it, you’ve had a bad day or you’ve had a really great day and you want to spend the money — or it’s because there’s something very specific that you are looking for. In the fall, you know you’re going to need boots, so you go online and search for a list of the top boots that every editor or every blogger loves.

What we do — and what I suggest that every marketer do — is think of how you’re going to solve a shopping problem for women. It’s very easy to create a page where it’s 50 products that they love, but the question behind that has to be, how do you service a user into buying?

There’s this thought in the digital world that women want gamified shopping. In a lot of ways, this is guys trying to create a fun shopping experience for women. And the reality is that’s just not how women shop.

Are there other ways retailers can customize digital marketing to women?

It’s always a matter of brand trust. What women look for is a trusted voice. If you are a new company that no one’s ever heard of, you need to align yourself with media companies or bloggers or influencers that women already trust.

It doesn’t matter how many times you serve your ad on Facebook, women are still not going to trust you until someone tells them to trust you.

What do you see as the key best practices for digital marketing to a woman consumer?

Again, make sure she trusts your brand. You shouldn’t be coming to her to sell a product but instead to show that you’re a solution to a need. I think that’s the first and absolutely the most critical one.

Second, make sure that you’re aligning yourself with the right, trusted partners. It doesn’t matter how big of a brand you are. It’s always good to align yourself with the new voice so that you can capture their audience as well.

It doesn’t matter how many times you serve your ad on Facebook, women are still not going to trust you until someone tells them to trust you.

And the last thing is to never assume that just because you’re a trusted brand you don’t have to work to continue to gain and regain your consumer’s trust and love. The loyalty factor is really critical, but an established brand has to work just as hard for their customers’ loyalty as they did when they first started.