Forget Tin to Celebrate Ten Years, the M2W Conference Struck Gold on its Tenth Anniversary

May 15, 2014

M2W ConferenceA decade after its debut, I was thrilled to attend my very first M2W: the Marketing to Women Conference. Working in public relations I’m fortunate to regularly see very smart and poised women captivate a room and build a relationship with an audience of strangers. It’s an impressive sight to behold. But at M2W, there was something even more compelling than the energy and eagerness among the 200+ women and men (yes, men do attend; stay tuned for more on that) in attendance that was both palpable and inspiring.

Unlike most conferences where the keynote’s “good morning” is met with a lackluster response until they guilt a few more people into participating, this group is totally different. When Nan McCann, co-founder of M2W, came out to greet the crowd, you could immediately see that they don’t consider themselves as part of an audience. No way. They are part of a movement. While that may sound borderline hokey, there is no doubt that this electric atmosphere contributed to the richness of the discussions and the eagerness to learn throughout the two day event.

And speaking of learning, I did. I learned a lot. I learned about multiple facets of not just PR, but marketing and advertising. I heard about upcoming product launches (and am already planning some short-term purchases), community development, marketing to women outside of the U.S. and how marketing to women has evolved – or not – in the past 50 years. I laughed a lot, I rolled my eyes more than a few times at stories of how women were once regarded (and occasionally still are) by marketers, and I took a ton of notes.

Since I’m a sucker for stats, here are a few that I found particularly compelling and underscore why women are increasingly capturing the attention of marketers worldwide:

• Women control 85 percent of all consumers purchasing and 90+ percent of all food purchases, amounting to US$20 trillion globally.
• In the next five years women will generate 70 percent of global household income.
• When it comes to gender diversity in the workplace, 59 percent of males say great progress has been made while only 39 percent of females hold that opinion.
• A mom is the only or primary breadwinner In 40 percent of U.S. homes.
• Women dominate the aging population and the “over 80” segment is the fastest growing of that segment.
80 percent of women say they will switch to a new brand if it is affiliated with a cause that is meaningful to them.

These statistics help provide the building blocks for great storytelling and trend spotting. And it’s those trends that take data beyond a number and give it a personality that people can connect to. As you would expect, the M2W conference covered many different trends this year – some that have been around for years and some that are just starting to emerge. Here are a few that captured my attention:

1. Marketers are smitten with the behaviors and purchasing power of millennial women

2. Women expect to be treated and marketed to as individuals.

3. Marketing to Women isn’t just for a female audience. We need the male voice in this conversation – and this year we heard more of those voices at M2W than ever before.

4. Content remains king queen and there are many brands delivering it really well in our multi-screen engagement world.

Have something to add to the discussion? I’d love to hear from you about any interesting data or trends you’ve seen related to marketing to women, so please feel free to leave a comment below.

A veteran of Ketchum, Jackie has held multiple roles within the agency. She currently oversees marketing and strategic planning for the agency’s global food and brand practices. Amidst a life of chaos juggling a family, house, career and the increasingly rare trip to the gym, Jackie finds her inner Zen at the beach and may even have salt water coursing through her veins. You can find her on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – @jackburt10.