The Brands Who Loved Me: Companies Women Like and Loathe

By Amy-Willard Cross

Businesses have to be smarter to get into women's purses. They’re waking up to the fact that women are the market, controlling 73% of consumer spending. The good news is that companies are realizing they have to talk nicer—and act nicer. 

So they’re trying to understand, and it starts with studies. MarketELLE asked women to cite their top 10 favorite brands out of a possible 100. They named Starbucks, Facebook, Google, Costco, Walmart, Ikea, and Dove. Mind you, these were 1,000 Canadian women, who are pretty much like American women except they have more coats, publicly funded health care, and one year PAID maternity leave. 

Amazingly, the national doughnut chain Tim Hortons, who practically invented drive-thru coffee, earned the number one spot in women’s hearts and wallets. Of course, it makes sense that you’d love whoever makes you coffee. (And if they invented bedside coffee delivery service, they’d easily leapfrog to the number one spot.)

"American women might answer slightly differently," says Diane Ridgway-Cross, who led the study. She imagines e-commerce companies might make the list, and that Americans would have more intense dislikes. She adds that marketers may think women just care about shoes and chocolate, but there’s more to it. Google was appreciated for connecting women to the world, and unglam big box stores won hearts for saving them time and money with one-stop shopping and extended hours. 

What else do brands do that women like? Support local communities and women's causes. 

While the sample size may be small, the study still asked questions that not many people bother to inquire about Purse Power.

There were some differences among demographics: women 18-34 added Victoria’s Secret to the list (something that women over 34 maybe don’t have the time or money for). Younger women also liked Amazon, but not Dove so much.

And the Mom-nation gave a shout out to Kraft—what person in charge of dishing out three meals a day would not like a box that says DINNER on it? Moms also loved Subway and McDonalds for more alternative meal options. 

Brands That Are Loathed

After giving out As, the study asked women to pass out Fs. Many of the same brands made the favorite and the loathed lists. Walmart made the top 10, despite many concerns over its ethics, and Victoria’s Secret still won hearts regardless of its objectification of women in advertising. But hey, maybe you do have to use breasts to sell bras. "Women are passionate about where they spend their money," says Ridgway-Cross, who was surprised to hear the word "boycott" bandied about.

When asked which companies they disliked, women didn’t name names—or at least the advertising company isn’t telling. But several things caused women to have negative feelings about brands:

·      health concerns

·      business eEthics

·      walking the walk (Lululemon, this one’s for you)

·      ignoring women

·      objectifying women

·      pinkifying everything.

When it comes to ethics, consumers weren’t just concerned with how the company’s practices affected them personally, but other people. In the study, they cited disapproval of:

·      low employee wages and unfair policies

·      lack of women on executive teams

·      concerns with sourcing of goods

·      testing on animals

·      environmental concerns

·      putting local mom-and- pop stores out of business

·      gay rights

·      political issues.

Ridgway-Cross says, "It wasn’t just not a higher income, higher educated phenomenon, social conscience crosses those borders. I was pleased to see how vocal women were. Social media has really empowered that—you find out so easily when something crosses the line."

Who didn’t make the Best Top 10 list? Not one car company, bank, consumer electronic firm, mobile provider, sport team, or home improvement business managed to capture women’s hearts. Why? Because they don’t try. Women in the study have figured out they’re being ignored by all those sectors, despite the fact they’re now are allowed to drive, have bank accounts, use cell phones and computers, go to games, and fix up their homes.

And one more thing. As for commercials, women advised, "Make us laugh." It's not only men who like funny commercials. How hard can it be?


Image: Christi Nielsen via flickr