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How Danone sold more yogurt by listening to a maverik female exec 

If you really want to sell more to women, and you are not a woman yourself, you've got to get women on your team.

 

If you want to sell to minorities, you've got to have people from that minority on your team.

 

Great case in point I heard the other day.

 

When Strauss (one of Israel's largest food companies) wanted to start marketing DANONE yogurt to the Israeli charedi (ultra-Orthodox) market, they went to Rachel Bolton, a charedi ad agency owner. She told them to forget flavoured and expensive yogurts. The budget-conscious charedi women would not buy that. Instead, she suggested adding Vitamin D to the recipe, since charedi women wear long clothes and don't get enough sun exposure, leading to deficiencies in this vitamin.

 

Strauss people balked. “What do you mean? It’s an international! They have the same recipe worldwide. There is no way DANONE headquarters will agree to change the recipe for one segment of an already small Israeli market.”

 

Being the maverik, out-of-the-box advertising executive that she is, Bolton persisted.

 

Strauss tentatively broached the concept with DANONE and the yogurt company loved the idea. Not so much because of the Israeli market, but primarily because it gave them an edge and a differentiator on the lucrative Saudi Arabia/Persian Gulf market, where women also wear long clothes and don’t get enough sun.

 

Strauss/DANONE added Vitamin D into the yogurt marketed to the charedi sector and Rachel Bolton got a marketing bonus.

 

Gender is the strongest lens that people use to interpret reality. And women influence or make 80% of all buying decisions. If you don't have senior women in your R&D, production, design, marketing, sales, and service teams, you are leaving money on the table. You need people who are using your product to be the people who are making and selling your product.

 

Diversity is not just a social justice cause. It's not about being politically correct. With thousands of business cases worldwide, diversifying your management is a straight path to greater earnings.

 

And yes, you may need to reformulate your product. You may need to test different packaging and marketing options. You may need to track your your figures based on gender.

 

It's a lot of work, but it pays.

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