A few posts back I touched briefly on how the book What She’s Not Telling You highlights an interesting behavior by the female consumer –– the habit of telling the “half truth” vs. the “whole truth.” Understanding this concept is so important to marketers that I decided to revisit.
Buying into a woman’s “half truth” can cost marketers billions of wasted dollars; not just in concept development and market research, but in the marketplace where it really matters. A half truth is what a woman is willing to admit, while the whole truth is what she really believes, does and buys. For example:
“I am happy with my looks” (half truth); “If given a choice, I’d like to look better than I do” (whole truth).
An example of how a half truth can negatively affected a brand is Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty.” This campaign broke the rules of the beauty business by putting less-than-perfect women in their plain white undies all over billboards, the media and the Internet. Talk shows went crazy and Dove was hailed as the brand that “gets it”. The PR value of the Real Beauty campaign was unparalleled. But soon after, Dove’s sales slowed and eventually flatlined. Why? Because Dove fell for the half truth that women want to feel good about their natural looks. But the whole truth is that women really want to look better than they do, which is why they spend $7 billion annually trying.
On the flip side, Procter & Gamble’s Oil of Olay identified this whole truth: “Just because I’ve earned these facial lines doesn’t mean I want to wear them,” and marketed their Pro-Age Regenerist product based on the whole truth that women want beauty products that really work. They marketed Regenerist as an alternative to invasive cosmetic surgery, and the launch became the biggest skin care launch in the mass market.
Are you identifying the whole truth when marketing to women consumers? What half truths have you told a brand?