Uncovering modern women

Life experiences, tastes and habits shape modern women, affecting motivation and buying behaviour. Across Europe, the differences are stark.

While brands are becoming increasingly global, marketing strategies must take into account national consumer characteristics and behaviour to be successful.

BMRB’s European Women’s Report deals with attitudes, product, brand and media consumption marketing across Great Britain, Spain, Germany, France and Italy.

The report reveals what unites and divides the female European consumer. Two segmentations – nationality and age – are strong indicators of behaviour.

The blanket term “European women” implies a large and complex mass of women belonging to multiple generations with unique life experiences, tastes and habits.

Women who lived the formative years of their childhood and adolescence in different eras populate today’s market. Each generation is driven by a core set of values shaping consumer motivations and behaviour.

But are these factors more important than national boundaries and cultures, in determining motivations and behaviour?

Examining the statement “I like to try new brands”, across countries and differing age brackets, reveals marked differences in buying behaviour among European women.

According to research, Italians are very brand-conscious. They are motivated by style and are most likely of all nationalities to try a new brand. But they crave brand values and tend to enjoy new brand purchasing only when they are marketed in an aspirational fashion.

Spanish women, on the other hand, tend to make household purchases catering for the whole family, rather than themselves. This means these women have to find a commonly acceptable product and are motivated by issues other than branding (although this will always play a long-term role in sampling).

Overall, there’s a marked decrease in willingness to try new brands in the 55-plus age group, as purchase patterns become more fixed and older consumers seek the reassurance of familiarity.

But nationality determines response to promotions far more than generational considerations.

In the past decade, promotions have become an increasingly popular marketing practice.

During the recession years, at the beginning of the Nineties, promotional expenditure often surpassed advertising spend.

TGI data shows the most promotionally sensitive sector of the TGI Europa database is British women aged 25-34. Those least sensitive are young Italian women.

British women are brand promiscuous, which makes them especially susceptible to manufacturers’ promotional activities.

This is particularly true of those in the 25-34 age bracket, as they tend to be setting up home and have the most budget pressure.

The brand consciousness of Italian women perhaps prevents them from reacting as dramatically to promotional activity.

When we look at consumer behaviour, in terms of the importance of product quality when making purchase decisions, we see the joint influences of national culture and age.

This taps two distinct, yet related, dimensions of consumer behaviour: sensitivity to price and quality.

Most marketing experts claim consumers are sensitive to one or another, depending on their situation and the product cate gory involved. But TGI Europa data reveals significant cultural differences transcending these factors.

Marketing strategies may require a greater emphasis on competitive pricing in Germany, but price is not such a motivating factor in Spain. Quality is the most prized brand attribute there.

British women are also sensitive to quality over price but their motivations are quite different to the Spanish. The British tend to be “strategic shoppers” who know how to find good deals, buying top of the range brands on promotion and high quality own-label products.

The data also allows a comparison of consumer types, identified by branded purchases. For example, it is possible to build up a strong picture of women who own and are the main drivers of Renault cars. Comparing their defining lifestyle characteristics with those of the total female 25-54 population, reveals some interesting identifying features.

Taken from the Spain, France and Great Britain databases, the results reflect the international target via the unifying themes – the “Renault woman” values quality, is informed and seeks technological innovation. She uses her car for practical purposes and places an emphasis on health and “feeling good”, rather than on appearance.

Looking at the individual country databases, we can examine the national aspects of Renault women distinct from joint international characteristics.

The French Renault woman prizes her home and family life but feels appearance is important. She is also a woman happy to stick to conventions. Comparatively, Italian Renault women have a desire to break away and believe in women’s liberation and adventurous behaviour.

In the UK, a Renault woman is independent, cosmopolitan, well-travelled and has an active lifestyle.

Factfile is edited by Julia Day. Samantha Fosbury, TGI marketing and NPD manager, contributed

For more information on the European Women’s report, visit www.bmrb.co.uk/europeanwomen.

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