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10.04.2013

Does recommendation have a sex? And is it a woman

Is the tendency to share opinions about products in fact more female or male quality? How can women’s natural inclination to talk, establish relationships and share opinions be reflected in the effectiveness of referral marketing? Can it be said that recommendation has a sex? We claim so. And surely – it is a woman.


Research showed that friends are the most reliable source of information for people who are looking for information about products and services. 92% of consumers trust their friends and family’s recommendations, 70% trust consumer recommendations found on the Internet, and only 47% trust TV commercials (Nielsen, Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages, 2012). This reflects in sales results because from 20 to 50% of all purchase decisions are made by consumers due to recommendations (McKinsey, A new way to measure word-of-mouth marketing, 2010). Whereas, only 9% of talks about brands which are important from a marketing point of view have a negative nature (Keller Fay Group, 2007). It is also worth mentioning that women most often decide on purchases – also in traditionally men’s product groups. They advise their men, take care of their households and are buyers of products from typically men’s categories, like cars or beer. Referral marketing is based on people’s readiness to share information, express opinions, as well as to gossip. Consumers can start to distribute among themselves the relevant marketing contents on products and services. You just need to know how to influence them using properly selected tools. Women as consumers are very favourably inclined to learn about new thing, test and share information. May it be connected with the natural women’s inclination to talk much? Is it a derivative of their nature? We leave this aspect to sex psychologists and sociologists.
Let’s look at the facts which justify the thesis that recommendation is a woman.
1. Women talk about everything. It reflects in categories of product which can be included in referral campaigns. Women most often recommend brands from traditional women’s categories, such as food products, cosmetics, children goods, cleaning products, dietary supplements. However, they are equally active in participating in campaigns of products from the area of electronics, household appliances and or financial services. Women recommend men products, and the men trust them. Only women were invited to one of campaigns of men’s shower gel carried out by the referral agency Streetcom. It resulted from a joint conclusion of both the client and the agency that nobody but a woman can judge a fragrance for her partner.

2. Mothers are women especially susceptible to other mothers’ opinions. Young mums a special and very active group of consumers engaged in campaigns. In this case, the power of recommendation is connected with reliability. It is proved by an exceptional engagement of mothers in campaigns aiming to know their opinions about children goods. In own research by Streetcom (June 2012), 93% of women declared that they asked familiar mothers for their opinions before buying the first cosmetics for children. 80% of the respondents decided to give up buying a product for the child due to their friends’ negative opinions. Is it then a great exaggeration to say that women are the first authority of the market?

3. Women are very different – among them, you can always find a group who will convincingly tell about practically every product. An accurate selection of participants of a campaign is the key to success in referral marketing. Women have extremely diverse needs and interests – and they talk about them with pleasure. A good choice results from careful listening. Does a selected group have to be so big? Not necessarily; it depends on the specifics of a product and the aims of a campaign. Only 10 consumers took part in the referral activities which last year accompanied introducing on the Polish market one of dietary supplements supporting weight loss. On the other hand, all of them were highly motivated: As a part of the action, they agreed to follow a rigorous diet, and they allowed to use their image in the media campaign of the brand. In fact, three of them became the faces of the activities promoting the market novelty in the press, on the company’s website and in online video clips. For other women, the most reliable is that they can hear an opinion of a woman similar to them, who they can trust. The mentioned campaign of supplement, carried out in the smallest number of participants in Polish activities of Streetcom, met this condition. On the other hand, an action of the greatest range in the Polish practice of the company engaged 12,000 participants.

4. In terms of recommendation, women are definitely the stronger sex. It is them who are the majority of the consumer community ready to test products and share opinions about them. It is proved by a success of typically female websites and the involvement of their community. Therefore, it is not surprising that women more often and more willingly than men take part in campaigns. They are engaged in nine out of ten referral projects. We can even assume that they are a representative group participating in recommendations of products and brands, although – as it was already mentioned (see points 1 and 3 above) – they are not always products addressed directly to them.
5. Women can see that they are good at recommending – and they are proud of it. A competent female adviser, a person of refined taste who is taken by friends for important shopping, a news and offers expert, sometimes simply a mentor – this is a status which gives women great satisfaction. Thus, willingly and eagerly, they improve their natural abilities to test and compare offers, as well as to carefully listen what others can say about the offers. On one side, it is connected with frequent in women willingness to help others, while on the other side, with pragmatism which, in relation to consumption, can be summarised as: “I’m nosy, but why should I reinvent the wheel? It’s better to use the experience of others.” Therefore, expressing opinion (online and offline) is perceived by women as a peculiar implementation of the principle of reciprocity: “Drawing from the consumer experience of others makes my life simpler, so I myself – once I have formed an opinion about something – will certainly not keep it for myself.

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