Ditch 'outdated segmentation' to better target women, says study

Marketers must stop thinking about women in terms of "blunt" demographics and start defining them by their goals.

Female Tribes: new study by JWT London
Female Tribes: new study by JWT London

This is the key finding of a new global study, 'Female Tribes', by JWT London, which was launched today to an audience of female marketing leaders.

The research, which is the result of six months’ quantitative and qualitative research, urges brand and media owners to "stop thinking about women in terms of blunt demographic descriptions", such as "busy working mum".

Instead, the study claims, marketers can understand the new trends and "tribes" emerging globally by defining women according to their ambitions and psychographic profile. It identifies 13 tribes, but the author Rachel Pashley, the group planning head at JWT London, said there were "yet more tribes to be discovered" as women evolve further. 

Tracey Follows, chief strategy officer and executive partner at the agency, said: "This work on female tribes finally starts to give us a meaningful language with which to describe women's different roles, lifestyles and ambitions all around the world. No longer do we have to stick to the opposing stereotypes of 'caring earth mother' versus 'career-obsessed alpha female'.

"We should be able to eradicate lazy briefs that just state 'housewives with kids' as the target audience and build a richer and more diverse understanding of women and how to communicate with them through advertising."

Six tribes under the spotlight

The Super Athletes

A new breed of female super athlete is emerging, challenging performance standards and trailblazing for women in sport.

GI Jane

Women have been propelled to the front line and are now participating in active combat. In the US, women make up 15% of the armed forces.

Latina Matriarch

In Latin America, more women are in employment than ever before and are moving ahead of the US when it comes to political empowerment. It now has more female heads of state and heads of government than any other area globally.

Tiger Mother

A strict disciplinarian, the Tiger Mother devotes herself to raising her children to achieve high standards of education.

Beauty Witch

An Asian tribe, the Beauty Witch is a woman in her 40s to 50s who appears to be much younger and spends a disproportionate amount of time and money on her appearance.

Modern Courtesan

Typified by the WAG, this is a woman who willingly and knowingly exchanges her social or sexual engagement for financial reward. Most prevalent in the UK and US.