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Futurist sees women’s EVEolution

Updated: May 3, 2013 12:14PM



Originally published: August 7, 2001

Faith Popcorn is a futurist--an expert in spotting trends long before they start. She created the term “cocooning” in the early 1980s and correctly predicted it as an influential marketing force.

Today, she says the next trend will be “eve-olution,” the rising use of economic power by women.

“Women are just starting to recognize the immense economic power they have. After all, women influence the purchase of over 80 percent of all consumer goods. Female-controlled businesses generate $3.6 trillion annually, and employ 27.5 million people--more than all the Fortune 500 companies combined,” says Popcorn. “Successful companies will recognize that you must market to women in a different way.”

What do women want?

Futurist Faith Popcorn says that varies woman to woman. But here are the eight key points to remember when selling to her:

Connecting your female consumers to each other connects them to your brand.

If you’re marketing to one of her lives, you’re missing all the others.

If she has to ask, it’s too late.

Market to her peripheral vision, and she will see you in a whole new light.

Walk, run, go to her, secure her loyalty forever.

This generation of women consumers will lead you to the next.

Co-parenting is the best way to raise a brand.

Everything matters: You can’t hide behind your logo.

``If I had to summarize the Eight Truths ... in a single sentence, it would be this: A customer of the moment is the one who buys your brand, a customer for life is the one who joins it,’’ said Popcorn.

-- Terry Savage

Popcorn’s latest book, EVEolution (Hyperion, $24.95), is not only a marketing directive to corporate America, but a wake-up call to the women of this country to recognize, and use, the economic power they wield.

Popcorn’s think-tank, Brain Reserve, uses its Web site (www.FaithPopcorn.com) and other techniques to regularly survey thousands of people and business experts to develop its trend-setting predictions. Out of the latest research comes Popcorn’s eight “truths” for marketing to women.

(By the way, Popcorn’s name is one of her own best “branding” techniques. She jokes that when her father immigrated to the United States, the immigration official misunderstood when he explained that his name was “Papa Korny” and wrote it down as “Popcorn.”)

“Is there a difference between women and men?” she asks an audience. She responds: Absolutely.

Look at all the recent books pointing out those differences--whether men are indeed from Mars, and women from Venus, or why the sexes can’t seem to communicate well with each other.

“Since we know there’s a difference, why wouldn’t corporations market differently to this growing economic force of women decision-makers?” she asks.

Popcorn’s list of clients, ranging from McDonald’s to Procter and Gamble, reads like a who’s who of corporate marketing giants. All are suddenly demanding her thinking on how to correctly market to women. Among her insights:

* Connecting your female consumers to each other connects them to your brand.

Popcorn notes that among the most successful Internet sites are those designed to connect women to each other. That’s because women share information as a part of their genetic makeup--whether it’s advice about rearing children, getting ahead in the business world, fashion trends or products they use. Women connect, and smart companies create real opportunities for women to interact, and thus bond with their products.

“Women don’t buy brands,” she said. “They join brands.”

So, following her advice, clients like Nabisco’s SnackWell brand donated funds to Girls Inc., the largest girls’ advocacy group in the nation. Customers who bought the brand and sent in proofs of purchase received a Mother’s Day remembrance journal. The project led to more than 100 mother/

daughter workshops across the country, sponsored by SnackWells, and ultimately a Lifetime TV documentary, “Mothers and Daughters: A Lifetime Bond.”

* If you’re marketing to one of her lives, you’re missing all the others.

Popcorn points out that corporations must market to all of a woman’s life, because all parts of her life are interconnected. It’s obvious that women do more than one task at once--talking on the phone while fixing dinner, juggling work/family responsibilities. Women work a 24/7 life, and their work and family life blends together.

Corporations should take these needs and talents into consideration when dealing with customers and women employees.

Now EVEolution comes to the workplace, and Popcorn suggests that is the perfect place to get women involved with your brand.

Thus, comes the new Popcorn term: Perfessional--the ultimate blurring of the personal and professional.

Instead of bosses looking askance at children’s photos on the desk, or banning personal calls and time off to deal with day care issues, Popcorn suggests that the corporation that values women will instead cater to those needs.

Remember the AT&T commercial in which the mother takes her kids to the beach and conducts the conference call on her cell phone? It struck a responsive chord because it showed AT&T respecting two of her lives. Very EVEolutionary, according to Popcorn.

* If she has to ask, it’s too late.

This is one of my favorite EVEolution truths. Of course, she notes, for eons men have been wondering what women really want. So how can men be expected to anticipate her economic and marketing needs, any better than they’ve been able to anticipate her emotional needs?

This is especially difficult for male-dominated corporations seeking to market to women. Notes Popcorn, “Women will never tell you what they want. They’ll utter a phrase like, `It’s not the same if I have to tell you.’ “

I’m no futurist, but I predict that all women reading this section of her book will sigh in recognition, and all men will shake their heads in agreement that they simply don’t understand how women think.

Popcorn continues: “It’s puzzling and frustrating to women that men don’t tune in early to our needs. Because it’s first nature for us to tune in to theirs.”

She has some recommendations for how corporate America should tune in, but for that you’ll have to read the book.

That’s exactly what Popcorn is hoping will happen, that this book, like her previous best sellers, The Popcorn Report and Clicking, will reach a dual audience. Businesses hoping to market to the $3.4 trillion of buying power generated by women-run businesses can’t afford to ignore her forecasts.

But Popcorn has another agenda. She’s quite sure that once these EVEolutionary truths are recognized and discussed, women will develop and expand their economic power in all sorts of social arenas.

She advises us to “remember that bit of historical wisdom: Species that don’t EVEolve, die.”

It’s good advice for corporate America and for women as a power group. Her research is a direct hit for corporate America, with plenty of practical advice on how to forge deeper connections with women as customers, consumers and employees. But EVEolution also is a subtle pitch for women to recognize and respect their own growing economic power.

In case you somehow missed the point, Popcorn’s closing lines remind us that the last three letters in “believe” are EVE.

If you don’t believe in EVEolution, you’re missing a trend that could be vital to your future. That’s a Faith Popcorn “truth,” and I firmly believe it’s a Savage Truth, as well.

Terry Savage is a registered investment adviser for stocks and commodities and is on the board of directors of McDonald’s Corp. and Pennzoil-Quaker State Co. Send questions via e-mail at savage @suntimes.com. Her third book, The Savage Truth on Money, recently was published by John Wiley & Sons Inc.



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