Women’s brains and market research
The female advantage over men in marketing really comes down to the composition of the female brain. The brain however, is really quite complex and if I started to delve into the composition of the right and left hemispheres of the brain, you would probably quickly lose interest. So I’m going to try and keep it simple.
Market research requires people to engage with both qualitative and quantitative research. Sorry – qualitative basically means words or theories and quantitative usually means statistical data or hard numbers. Only when you have both can you really gain insights into the market. The human brain has two hemispheres, right and left. The right side of the brain is the bit that assimilates your qualitative research, allowing you to think intuitively. The left side of the brain isn’t very good at that but instead handles the more logical and analytical (boring) stuff, like statistics – your quantitative research.
These two hemispheres of the brain are then connected by an intricate network, or highway, of over 200 million nerve endings. This highway is called the corpus callosum (pretty cool, right?). Anyway, why is any of this relevant? It is in fact very relevant because most studies of the brain have revealed that women have a larger corpus callosum than men. That means that scientifically, women are more capable of effectively combining this qualitative and quantitative research, which is the key to great market research.
Women’s brains and empathy
So, with the aid of science, women are 1-0 up against men in the battle of the sexes for the Marketing Title Heavyweight World Championship. As a man, you might be thinking this is ridiculous, the male brain is bigger than the female brain, so it must be better, right? Well, you would be right, the male brain is actually about 10% larger than the female brain, and has about 5% more brain cells.
So in terms of pure processing power, the male brain probably does have the advantage. But don’t get carried away here. Imagine two computers, one is 10% more powerful, it has more RAM, a bigger hard drive and is thus capable of running programmes faster and more efficiently. However, when the more powerful computer was being assembled, the technician made a mistake, meaning that everything is displayed in a foreign language to the less powerful computer.
This is sort of what happens with the male brain. In the womb, both men and women start off with the female brain or the default brain. After 8 weeks, the male brain gets flooded with foetal testosterone, resulting in the damaging of cells in the communication centre of the brain. The female brain, however, is allowed to develop unaltered, meaning that it emerges with a far superior capacity for emotional understanding and empathy.
The more powerful computer can process everything faster, but you see everything in a different language. It has a slight edge in speed, but there is no understanding. There is possibly no greater skill for a marketer than empathy and understanding. Put bluntly, women simply have a genetic advantage over men when it comes to marketing because they are more capable of understanding others. 2-0.
If you’re a bloke and you’re starting to think that this fight is a lost cause, you’re probably right, because the advantages of the female brain for marketing don’t end there. A woman’s capacity to understand a brand's uniqueness over a man's reliance on global rules means that women are better suited to take charge of a brand. A woman’s perceptual skills are oriented to fast and intuitive thinking, whereas men are far more systematic. This presents a clear obstacle for men in their ability to articulate positioning statements for brands. Women do not encounter this problem, they are able to bracket past experiences and understand current brands and their unique elements and features. Women are more attuned to the competition, their brains age better and they are less self-obsessed and self-indulgent.
I am a bloke myself, and whilst I think it’s ridiculous to generalise about a whole gender, it’s hard to argue against genetics and against science. Genetically and scientifically women are built and develop better to achieve success in marketing.