Harmonizing Mind and Body, Representing Women's Reality Are Key Trends to Watch

Article excerpt

Trend forecasts are favored by marketers, manufacturers, service providers, and retailers because they provide guidance for developing and marketing products and services. But there's another layer to trend analysis that goes beyond identifying what's hot now and what's likely to warm up in the coming year.

As discussed in All About Women Consumers 2003 (the MARKETING To WOMEN yearbook, to be published this month by EPM Communications), individual trends can point to larger shifts in women's attitudes and behavior, and as such they're important indicators of what's going on in women's lives and how that fits into a larger cultural context. If marketers want to create ads and promotions that women will respond to, that motivate them where others leave them flat, it's crucial to understand the driving forces beneath current trends.

Mind-Body Connection

A number of trends grow out of women's increasing desire to focus their energy on activities that make them feel rejuvenated. The many demands on their time and energy leave women feeling drained and not quite themselves. While women want to spend quality time with their children, their spouses, and their friends, they can't be fully present for loved ones without time for themselves. The busier women's days get, the more crucial it becomes to take care of themselves. Studies by Twinlab and Catalyst find that most women are feeling the impact of the energy drain.

More than three quarters of women (76%) say that a lack of energy is having a negative impact on their lives, and 80% say that if they did have additional energy, they'd use it to spend more time with their friends and families, according to Twinlab (see MTW, October 2002).

Almost two thirds (64%) of Generation X women (age 27-38) say they always or often come home from work too tired to get things done at home, finds Catalyst. More than seven in 10 (72%) say their work interferes either severely or moderately with their personal lives (see MTW, April 2002).

But it's not just that women have too many things to do; for many, it's also that they're doing too much of the kinds of things that sap their energy rather than invigorate it. A lasting impact from September 11 has been a re-examining of priorities. For women this means weighing whether the work they do--be it in the business world or within the home--is in line with their goals, their hopes and dreams, and their vision of who they want to be.

Marketers can't read the minds of individual women to understand their priorities and speak in the language of their dreams. But they can understand the importance of the process. They can help women cut down on the time and aggravation it takes to accomplish the routine tasks of ordinary life. They can offer products and services that solve problems or help create an island of relaxation or meditation in the midst of a busy day. Most importantly, they can understand that women's view of themselves goes deeper than traditional segmentation profiles and marketing techniques have allowed for.

Trends such as yoga, martial arts, holistic healthcare, and organic/natural foods are all manifestations of the mind-body connection--women's desire to take care of themselves and to feel more connected to their bodies. Women's interest in products tied to good causes is a reflection of their desire to act in a way that's consistent with their values, and when given an opportunity to express their values in a transaction, they will do so.

The tremendous growth of spas, and of products that bring a spa feeling to ordinary life, reflect women's need to find peaceful moments in the midst of difficult days, and also to remind themselves that they're special--and in the words of a classic L'Oreal commercial--Worth It." L'Oreal, of course, used the tagline to tell women that its haircolor was the very best quality. But in today's context, that line can also mean that women deserve a little time out for themselves, and a little pampering. …