As a founder and CEO of a women-centric marketing company, I’m always attending women-targeted events. Recently at an all-day conference, a group of us sat down for our three-course lunch, and I noticed how particular we all were about it. Are these salad greens organic? I hope that fish wasn’t fried in hydrogenated oil. They wouldn’t serve sauce with high fructose syrup in it—nobody’s using that anymore. I turned to the gal to my right and I said: “We sure are serious about our food!” This confirmed so much of what I already know about women consumers, and led me to dig deeper. I discovered that women are making inroads in all aspects of the food space: research, production, distribution, advocacy, media and especially children’s nutrition and food education.
As marketers, we need to study and understand how women are drastically altering the food landscape, which will ultimately lend us more insight about how women consumers make food-purchasing decisions. Savvy marketers are moving away from the “tried and true” messages and imagery that advertisers have had in their playbook for years. Aligning with female chefs, casting women in “traditional mom” roles or indulging in seductive “food porn” imagery just isn’t enough. As women consumers become more informed they seek concrete ingredient information and practical food preparation advice.
Press the marketing food to women reset button and take note of these three ways women are reshaping the food landscape:
1. Women are producing food
Women represent 43% of the world’s agricultural labor force according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO.) The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 30% of U.S. farmers are women—that’s one million women. And some of them are even writing about their experiences, gradually getting farming novels to replace chick lit.
2. Women are thought leaders in the good food movement
You don’t have to look further than your Starbucks menu to know women care about fair trade and sustainable food production. The industrial food system in the U.S. is wrought with problems, and women like Joann Lo, executive director of Food Chain Workers Alliance, are doing powerful work to help build a food system that is good, clean and fair.
3. Women are leading the way in teaching healthy eating to kids
First Lady Michelle Obama wasn’t just talking the talk when she implemented nutrition policy for U.S. schools. Her senior policy advisor, Deb Eschmeyer, has placed 200 service members in schools in 17 states during 2015 alone, promoting school gardening, cooking instruction and better school food procurement for our kids.
So before you launch your next food campaign for women look beyond your target market’s base appetites—bring their craving for information and globally based values to the table.