Ads to Women Key in Crisis

NBCU Research: Maintain Spending in Weak EconomyAds to Women Key in Crisis 1

NBC Universal is touting new research that shows marketers should maintain their advertising to women because they control the bulk of household spending and are looking for ways to shop smarter as the economy weakens.

Susan Malfa, senior VP of ad sales for NBC Universal’s Bravo and Oxygen, points to numerous case studies from past downturns showing that companies that maintained ad spending increased their market share, and that it took years for sales to recover for companies that cut spending.

“We want to share that information with ad partners to help them understand that track record and that trend,” Ms. Malfa said.

NBC also wants to deliver to clients proprietary research that can help them pick and choose who to speak to, who to connect to, who to message to and what their message should be, she said.


Other cable networks that draw big clusters of female viewers and could benefit if NBC’s analysis is accepted include Lifetime, WE tv and E!.

Ms. Malfa also heads up sales efforts for [email protected], which includes Bravo, Oxygen and iVillage as well as inventory on “Today” and some female-skewing prime-time series.

While the ad-buying landscape is challenging all over, Ms. Malfa said she’s still doing business, both in the scatter market and lining up clients who buy upfront on a calendar-year basis. But spending decisions are being pushed back to the last moment, she said.

She said NBC’s research should help advertisers zero in on specific places where their ad dollars can do some good.

“When it’s big and scary, you can’t navigate or move forward. You get paralyzed,” she said. “But reminding people to look at it this way and then take action against it smartly this way is really the big takeaway and the value we can help our advertisers with.”

Tony Cardinale, NBC Universal senior VP for research and strategic insights, said NBC began shifting its research efforts a few months ago, when Lehman Brothers was folding and the economy was becoming the top issue in the presidential campaign. The research continues, with a major segmentation study in the works, he said.

“Even before all of this hit, women were doing the majority of the spending and the decision-making,” Mr. Cardinale said. They also tended to be the information seekers in the family.

“Now it appears they’re looking for savings or the way to preserve their lifestyle by being smarter,” he said. “So in a moment like this, where they’re looking for solutions to preserve their families’ lifestyle, it’s still the women that marketers need to be speaking to.”

In NBC’s survey, 54% of women 18 to 49 said they are using coupons more often, compared to 37% of men that age. Only 38% of the women said they hadn’t changed their spending habits, compared to 49% of the men. About 86% of women shoppers said they believe they can “get great gifts for everyone this holiday season by being a smart shopper.” And the women surveyed thought advertising helps them by keeping them up-to-date on the latest products, giving them gift ideas and generally influencing their purchase decisions.

But Mr. Cardinale noted that not all women were alike and that some would continue to support their lifestyle despite the economic climate.

Ads to Women Key in Crisis 2
[Read: TVWeek]