PowHER of the Purse | Canadian Women: “We Love the Brands Who Love Us Back!”

At PowHERhouse, we believe that Canadian women are responding less to display advertising and more to involvement, investment & impact.

In fact, we’re leading boldly and demonstrating a national media business model firmly grounded in this belief.

Gutsy?  Yes!  But after 17 years of intimately observing thousands of powHERful Canadian women, we can confidently say on their behalf, “We love the brands who love us back!”

Let’s talk about the PowHER of the Purse:PowHERhouse | PowHER of the Purse

  • Women control $20 trillion of worldwide spending.
  • Women buy more than half of all new cars.
  • 80% of home improvement projects are initiated by women.
  • Women make 93% of all over-the-counter pharmaceutical purchases.
  • Two-thirds of all consumer wealth is in the hands of women.

Reference:  Marketelle, How brands are winning (and losing) with Canadian women

Here’s what we know:*

•  In a 2016 Havas’ survey, two-thirds of the global sample (including Canada) said businesses bear as much responsibility as governments for driving social change.

•  62% said they’d like their favorite brands to play a bigger role in solving social problems.

•  A 2015 Deloitte Millennial Survey showed that 75% of this generation believes businesses are too fixated on their own agendas, and not focused enough on helping to improve society.  For business, these beliefs and expectations are increasingly relevant given that millennials will make up three-quarters of the workforce by 2030.

•  Havas Meaningful Brand Survey that found that the majority of people polled (a) wouldn’t care if 74% of brands disappeared tomorrow and (b) believe that less than 28% of brands improve our quality of life and well-being.

How do we interpret this?

  1. It no longer ‘cuts it’ to continually push your products and services down our throats.
  2. Reputable brand leaders need to accept that their role pushes past profits to include providing solutions to social problems that improve the quality of our lives and our well-being.
  3. Women are waking up and looking to see if the brands we consistently invest in are in turn, re-investing back into us.  This is a 2-way relationship!

What do our friends think?

We decided to take the next step in this important conversation and invited the voices of powHERful female leaders and decision-makers in Canada’s advertising industry to join in.

Jennifer Lomax, Vice-President Strategic Planning, Harbinger

“Brands and media have a responsibility to know their audience – and with this responsibility comes great opportunity.  Purposeful brands use their voice not just to build awareness for products and services, but to connect with women through shared values, then invite her to take affirmative action or participate in affecting change.  Brands with purpose understand that engaging women on a deeper level and helping consumers to make the world a better place is the way to create happier, healthier people and profitability.”  

Reference credit: Harbinger

From your experience, would you say there is an opportunity to shift how brands engage with Canadian women?  (ie. Is it possible?)  If so, can you please comment on that.

Dana Harvey, Managing Director, Canada, GEM Advertising:
It’s time for Canadian brands to understand that there is not just an ‘opportunity’ to shift how they engage with Canadian women – there is a business-driven need.


Martha Grant, SVP, Marketing + Communications, PUBLIC Inc.
There’ s a huge opportunity for Canadian Businesses to shift how they communicate with women.  Authenticity is key, so showing women they are understood is really important. Consumers are savvier than ever, and they’ll see right through a brand that targets them too aggressively.


I also think there’s a real opportunity to portray women in unexpected places, to show their strength, power and diversity, expanding their role through purpose driven brand marketing.  We’ve all seen enough of the ads showing women cooking and cleaning. Today’s women are multi-dimensional. We are business leaders, mothers, scientists, community advocates etc. Companies that can speak to this dynamic will win!

EXAMPLE?  Vicks Mothers Day campaign, Dove Real Beauty, Brawny#StrengthHasNoGender, Always #LikeAGirl

How does a brand express its purpose to Canadian women so we will not only trust it, but become loyal advocates of it, and create growth?

Dana Harvey:
Brands need to insist on working with purpose-driven advertising agencies – agencies that:
  • are passionate about creating growing, sustainable, socially responsible brands
  • start with internal communications to identify a brand’s true and authentic purpose
  • will only work with brands that positively impact our personal lives, our communities and the world
  • identify and use media that allows brands to build and grow a loyal ‘tribe’
Purpose-driven advertising agencies move far past ineffective and intrusive ‘sell’ messages and help brands reveal their true purpose and have authentic conversations with their target audiences, creating tribes led by advocates who are as loyal to the brand as to their purpose!

Purpose-Driven Branding & Marketing:  As a respected industry leader, can you please describe what this term means to you and ultimately where you’d like to see it go?

Dana Harvey:

Purpose-driven branding and marketing starts with purpose… and results in profit.  It reveals a brand’s authentic focus on improving the lives of its customers. By showing that it cares about the same things we care about, purpose-driven branding and marketing builds brand loyalty and boosts business.

Canadian women are a discerning, information-rich, connected, and socially conscious target audience.  We care deeply about ourselves, our families, our communities and our world, and we want to see that the brands we support care deeply, too.  We make purchase decisions based on how a brand is living its purpose and values – how it is impacting the things that matter to us.  The time has come when purpose has overcome products and profits for its effect on the bottom line.

Martha Grant:
I am fortunate to help lead a team of passionate and disruptive people who truly believe that companies can be the catalyst for major social impact.  This new approach is called “profitable good”, and it involves shifting from the current mindset of “doing charity” (because that’s what good corporate citizens do) to thinking about social impact that has a direct positive impact on bottom line results.  We see “purpose” as the new “P” in the marketing toolkit and know that it can be used in ways that it will drive increased sales, help acquire and/or retain new customers as well as improve brand loyalty.

We’re excited to see more and more companies integrating purpose.  This trend is growing, and we’re thrilled to help lead the way!

If that is your goal, what would you say are our next 3 steps, collectively?

Dana Harvey:

  1. Canadian women, be loyal to the brands that are loyal to you; confirm that purpose and profit now go hand-in-hand.
  2. Canadian brands, truly engage with us.  Find out what matters to us.  Help us solve the problems in our world.  It will be win-win.
  3. Canadian advertisers and marketers, respect your audiences.  Understand that we need brands to communicate with us on a higherand more connected level.  Product pushing is passé.

Martha Grant:

  1. Help corporations and their senior leadership to understand that we no longer need to separate profit and purpose, that combined they can truly help drive the metrics around true social impact;
  2. Engage passionate, disruptive like-minded people to get out there and challenge the world with the goal of driving material change; and,
  3. Go for it! Don’t let fear overcome your desire to get out there and lead with purpose!

Diane Ridgway-Cross, Senior Vice President, Business Strategy & Development at McCann Montréal

“Women control more than $20 trillion in spending globally, and with that spending power comes the opportunity – and, in fact, the responsibility – to wield that power wisely.  To proactively support only those companies that align with our values and beliefs.  To spend with purpose and with passion.  To shift company policies and influence entire industries to do more… and do better.  

Let’s talk about the “power of the purse,” conscious consumption and how women can make a difference.”

WHY is this important?  What’s the point?  

Women need to wake up and realize THEY have the powHER of the purse!

“Something happens when a woman becomes financially responsible.  She becomes powerful.  She has the means to effect change, to really make a difference, in areas of life that matter to her most.  And when an economically independent woman joins with other smart women, they wield tremendous social, economic and political clout.  

Together, women can become the driving force that will actually transform the world and ultimately heal the planet.”

Barbara Stanny, Prince Charming Isn’t Coming:  How Women Get Smart about Money

There you have it, the quintessential reason for the work of PowHERhouse as a women’s media organization in Canada, “Together, women can (AND WILL) become the driving force that will actually transform the world and ultimately heal the planet.”  Our first step is to become more aware of the power that we do hold, The PowHER of the Purse!  The second step is to utilize media differently.  Imagine media stepping up and into its greatest purpose – connecting and coordinating Canada’s most powHERful women to support their greatest impact – to support this driving force.  Imagine Canadian brands right there beside us, supporting leader development (ripening!), leader recognition and leader resiliency.  It is what we work towards, daily.

Who are the brands in your world that are getting it right?  We’d love to hear about them and share with other PowHERhouses.  Who are the regional and national brands you wish would get more involved and invested – less selling, more impact.  We would love to approach them for a conversation on behalf of the powHERful women we represent.

*Reference credit:   publicinc.com/philosophy/ 

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