THE BLOG
07/31/2013 01:14 pm ET Updated Sep 30, 2013

Did the Recession Kill Women's Shopping Instincts?

A woman's shopping mentality is the punchline to many jokes. From the "shop 'til you drop, spend 'til the end," philosophy, to women with whole closets full of shoes, marketers really didn't have to work all that hard to motivate females to part with their money.

Then the recession came along, and with it, a severe drop in disposable income. Everyone was suddenly much tighter with a dollar, really thinking about whether a purchase was necessary or not. Women in particular, became less trusting of the marketing hype, and started really educating themselves before making a purchase. They were slower to purchase, researched everything first on the internet and searched high and low for discounts. Blogs started appearing everywhere about how to shop wisely, with women even patting themselves on the back for taking maximum advantage of double coupons and retailer discounts.

Now that the recession seems to be easing, how are marketers going to adjust to this new shopping paradigm? It's almost uncharted territory because they may now actually have to work to communicate with their target group and motivate them to take an action they once did so easily. Fortunately a guidebook has come along, "Hustle: Marketing to Women in the Post-Recession World," by Bonnie Ulman and Sal Kibler.

Ulman is president of The Haystack Group, a strategic communications and consumer insights firm based in Atlanta. Kibler held executive leadership positions in several of Atlanta's top advertising and marketing firms, including The Haystack Group, Inc., before starting her own firm, Whole Brain Solutions. Together they conducted market research and interviewed over 1000 women to gain insights into what it will take to build successful post-recession marketing strategies. No longer able to count on brand loyalty, marketers now must, not only, resell themselves to current customers but also show prospective customers the value of their product or service.

They conclude that women had to sacrifice and hustle to get through the recession, and they are going to make marketers hustle even harder to get their attention now. They are still looking for deals and want to receive a good value for their money. Ulman and Kibler recommend maintaining a consistent message and communicating it clearly, frequently and across multiple platforms. Brand loyalty has been replaced by "brand surveillance," where decisions are made based on referrals, deals and quality.

The world of social media marketing can be a tremendous help to those marketers now hustling to attract the attention of these alert shoppers. They're counting on you to provide factual information about your product and how it works, and to give them solid reasons to buy. A discount or explanation of why your product is a good value wouldn't hurt either.

Marketers will also have to rely on their social media influencers and advocates to help promote their cause. The influencers can help spread the word about your product and any special offers you are making, while the advocates can be out there helping to rebuild some of the loyalty that has been lost. It will be a must to make sure there is a steady stream of referrals and recommendations to put your brand back on the radar.

It's time to get your blogs going, ramp up your Facebook efforts, start tweeting and get those product demonstration videos on YouTube, if you want to connect with the new, woman shopper. Don't just get out there and tell them how great you are; tell them what's in it for them and how you're working to help them get back on their feet.