I recently finished the arduous process of designing a new brochure, potentially one of the most important tools manufacturers have to influence the sales process. Throughout this process I have learnt many things, but none has struck me as much as how the industry seems to be selling to the wrong people. Why are the majority of brochures designed with only men in mind?
Admittedly, this might seem a strange question at first. In an industry where males greatly outnumber their female counterparts, it is only natural that brochures would be presented from the male viewpoint. From a male perspective, the artistic design of a brochure is often thought to be the key to sales, yet there are hundreds of brochures out there that don’t actually sell the product. While artistic design is important, it must be tailored to the end customer; yet there is little evidence that manufacturers know who they are selling to. Why design a brochure for men, when the key decision maker is often female?
With our latest brochure I decided to try to ignore the examples of the past, to ignore the standard A4 glossy brochure and start afresh to see if a brochure could be produced that was solely designed to attract the fairer sex. In order to design an effective brochure, you have to imagine how women would approach the process of purchasing a bathroom.
Inspire with imagery
In recent years the “lKEA effect” of inspiration through the lifestyle shot has found its way into our brochures, and while this is a good thing for sales in general, as an industry we fail to understand the reason for this. Ultimately, we feel it is to show off what we offer and as a result products become lost within a sea of surrounding alternate sizes or colours.
Lifestyle shots should be used to inspire. Men can be inspired to buy a bathroom, but if they can’t afford it they could equally be inspired to buy a cheaper: completely different one, Yet with a woman, the entire future purchase is guided by that initial flash of inspiration. lf they cannot afford the original bathroom, they will seek to replicate it at a lower cost. This is illustrated perfectly by the alternate approaches men and women take to the normal weekly shop.
Different purchasing patterns
When shopping for groceries, a man starts at the front door with vegetables, finishing the shop at the back of the store in the wine section. This is a logical process, usually involving matching product choices to a budget wholly inspired by the need to eat. But a woman, although having the same ultimate goal to eat for a week, shops completely differently.
When women shop for food, they shop with meals in mind, generally inspired by magazines or TV programs. She will spend the most on the main ingredients of each meal, and compromise on the supporting bits in order to be able to afford it. It is also important to note that as a result of focusing on meals, women often miss the little things like snacks; they essentially get distracted by achieving the end meals they have already decided upon. Men shop to solve a problem. Give them a budget and they will most likely fit the task to the budget. Relate this to bathrooms, and if men are spending £10k on a bathroom they will most likely spread that evenly around the room. Women on the other hand, will shop with an end idea inspired by a home magazine in mind, picking one or two products they like, for example a shower or a bath, and then allocate the remaining budget across the rest of the room.
Ignore the plumber
It is therefore ourjob as manufacturers to inspire women with our brochures from the outset, to establish our products as the focal point of their bathroom. If we do this, they will build their bathroom around us. The key to a decent brochure is not to inform the plumber but to inspire every woman. Remove all the useless product variant shots, put in the nice quote, evoke those flashes of inspiration and a woman will compromise on everyone elses’ product to get yours.