Inside Her Pretty Little Head: A New Theory of Female Motivation and What It Means for Marketing

Rosemary Polegato (Mount Allison University, Sackville, Canada)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 2 May 2008




Polegato, R. (2008), "Inside Her Pretty Little Head: A New Theory of Female Motivation and What It Means for Marketing", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 193-194.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

If this book does not inspire you to give a second thought as to how you present your company or brand to a female audience, nothing will! First of all, the statistics are staggering. The good news: “In the US, women now account for over 80 per cent of all purchase decisions, and the female economy – worth $5 trillion – now makes up more than half the US GDP. Internationally, women contribute over 40 per cent of the developed world's GDP” (p. 2). More specifically, women are behind not just purchases for the home and themselves; they are the chief instigators for computer, car, and DIY purchases, as well as new bank accounts. “Women will acquire over 90 per cent of the growth in US private wealth between now and 2010” (p. 231). In Britain, “[t]here are 24 per cent more women millionaires aged 18 to 44 than men” (p. 231). The bad news: There are gender gaps in employment, notably in the advertising industry. (There is a six‐page Appendix of relevant data.)

But do not expect a rant or petty axe‐grinding! This book is grounded in reality. Readers – men and women – will value the apolitical, practical tone. The authors use their combined 30‐year experience in the advertising industry (DDB and Ogilvy) to present an innovative approach grounded in reality. The lively five‐page introduction will capture the attention of anyone even remotely interested in gaining a strategic advantage with female audiences. Further, this book also provides insights about male audiences.

The first chapter about the “science bit” and its companion chapter about male and female impulses is remarkably concise and focused on marketing issues. The basic message is that men and women are different, and marketers need to develop strategies that respect those differences.

Chapter 3 builds the case for developing female brands and introduces the four codes which motivate and concern women, and which form the core contribution of the book: the Altruism Code (Chapter 4), the Aesthetic Code (Chapter 5), the Ordering Code (Chapter 6), and the Connecting Code (Chapter 7). Far from being academic, these codes appeal to common sense and can be put into practice (Chapter 8) to develop female brands (Chapter 9) and provide further insights into how women shop (Chapter 10), where the differences between men and women are more profoundly displayed, according to the authors.

The next three chapters push the application button a little harder, specifically with respect to female media networks (Chapter 11), media planning (Chapter 12), and ways in which organizations can succeed for both men and women (Chapter 13). Chapter 14 wraps up the book by presenting the customary conclusions and findings in ten points, but then presses on with suggestions that will start the journey towards the development of organizations and female brands that can emerge from successful application.

The four codes deserve attention because women respond to the four codes in practical ways. The Altruism Code, for example, underlies women's interest in environmentalism. The Aesthetic Code suggests that women value pleasurable dimensions even for functional products, such as cars and computers. Symbols, icons, and style are appealing to women because they can decode them. The Ordering Code provides insight to women's use of web sites. They like the “click‐and‐find‐out‐more” approach rather than the in‐your‐face approach. Due to “chilly” car dealer atmospheres, women tend to use web sites to get basic information on options, prices, insurance, and service. The Connecting Code explains why women tend to like brands that are conversation pieces and that attract media attention.

This book has very useful reference tools. Each chapter has a one‐line synopsis of the content. Although there is no index, the bibliography and endnotes have been selected with parsimony, and they are easy to handle. In all chapters, the presentation of the ideas is clear and not intimidating. The conclusions and summaries in each chapter are very helpful, and they draw the reader toward the next chapter. Information is presented in an interesting array of formats that allow the reader to backtrack if desired. Numerous, diverse examples and illustrative narratives keep the reader engaged, as does the personable writing style. Throughout most of the book, the reader feels as though one is meeting in the boardroom with the authors.

This book will be of marked importance to marketers who want to truly understand female audiences. It is not about choosing the right shade of pink. It is about gaining a competitive advantage in an increasingly savvy and lucrative market that knows the difference!

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