Average women an untapped group

In a Meredith Corp. study, The Gamma Factor: Women and the New Social Cur­rency, the company describes Gamma women as everyday women with a large circle of friends who enjoy freely sharing information within their social networks using multiple media — as opposed to Alpha women, described as leaders, who selectively pass along information in a top-down manner, with an eye toward status and popularity.

The study, released last month, adds that, although Gamma women have always existed, advertisers have largely geared their messaging to Alphas. But now, thanks to technological advances allowing Gam­mas to influence other women across the Internet, and with their spending power growing, these women are finally being acknowledged by marketers.

“It’s not a new discovery that women are a powerful force,” explained Paula Found­eur, executive director of market solutions for Meredith. “The news is that everyday women have a powerful economic impact, and it’s time for marketers and advertisers to recognize that and adjust their market­ing messages to speak to them.”

Though many marketers have yet to tailor their messaging to Gamma women, this segment — estimated at 55 million — has inspired a small crop of new companies over the past few years. SheSpeaks was established in early 2007, offering word-of-mouth marketing through a national network of close to 100,000 women.

“The Gamma woman that Meredith is describing is at the center of her friends, and wants to be in the know, share infor­mation and be an educated consumer,” says Aliza Freud, founder and CEO of SheSpeaks. “When brands engage these consumers, it builds goodwill and helps companies gain tremendous insight.”

In addition, BlogHer, a community for female bloggers, started in 2005 and launched a corresponding ad network in 2006 that reaches 8 million women.

“Bloggers are a sought-after demo­graphic. They tend to be 18 to 49 years old; more affluent, educated and [more willing] to spread the word about a prod­uct than other women online,” says Jory Des Jardins, president of strategic alliances and co-founder of BlogHer.

Britta Ware, VP of research solutions at Meredith, agrees that to reach this audi­ence, marketers must recognize the power of word-of-mouth and digital communi­ties. “The way women share information [has changed] over the past five years,” she notes. “In the past two years especially, blogs have taken off.”

Fully tapping into this important seg­ment won’t happen overnight. Marketers must work to forge personal connections with these influential consumers.

“It’s really not an efficient process,” admits Carolyn Hadlock, executive creative director of Young & Laramore advertising agency. “Marketers are not as plugged in to the complexities of the target, or don’t have the time to gather the qualitative data that is the new focus.”

Marketers have to be savvy when approaching Gamma women. A brand should integrate itself with their existing conversations if it hopes to get its message across through word of mouth.

“It’s about getting in front of bloggers and embracing what they are already interested in,” Des Jardins explains. “Being seen as a pawn is not attractive.”

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