Social Media Week panel looks at women's buying behavior

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Even as their means for sharing product information grows, female consumers continue to seek out relevant reviews and simple ways to access them, said members of a panel discussing “Insights and Predictions on Women's Buying Behavior.”

Members of the panel, held on Feb. 14 at the Empire Hotel as part of Social Media Week, addressed how the shifting roles of digital channels are building communities of women, and how this has influenced women's browsing and shopping experiences.

“Everything's more instant and more of a direct-response model now,” said Erica Rubach, director of strategic marketing and social media at NBC Universal, emphasizing that consumers now often watch television with smartphone or tablet in hand. “Consumers are taking immediate action based on what they're seeing on air — immediate purchase, immediate rewards.

Tonie Shin, vice president of marketing at NYX Cosmetics, cited product sampling as growing in importance for female consumers, as it encourages them to discuss products and exchange thoughts on them in online communities. She added that services like Instagram and Pinterest have been “huge for us,” as women are drawn to communities that emphasize sharing visual experiences of products.

The event was sponsored by Total Beauty Media Group, tied to its launch of the new live streaming show Total Beauty LIVE. Broadcasting on both the company's website and Facebook, the show offers beauty-product demonstrations and live chat sessions with viewers.

While sampling and conversation between community members was important, the panelists agreed that brands must avoid heavy-handedness when interacting with consumer communities.

“You have to put your brand out there and let the community and ecosystem react the way they're going to react,” said Danielle Cherry, vice president and human experience strategist at Starcom MediaVest Group.

Jonny Bauer, head of strategy at agency Droga5, agreed that when product issues do occur, brands should remain open about what is happening and that “advocates and fans will come to your rescue.”

The panelists also agreed that mobile has proved to be a growing draw for women, especially while shopping in store, seeking reviews and comparison shopping. Cherry pointed to the popularity among young mothers of the voice-activated Siri feature on the iPhone 4S.

“You would think that someone like that would look at Siri and say, ‘why do I need one more thing in my life?'” said Cherry. “But it's simplicity of the technology and that is what's driving her back.”

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