Hi Siobhan, could you tell us a little bit about Netmums?
Founded in 2000 Netmums is the UK’s largest women’s website. Twice the size of any other parenting site, Netmums is the only one with more than a million unique users each week.
The site hosts over 150 local websites, 1,500 bloggers and 500 national meet-up groups for mums, making it the UK’s top place for connecting parents. And Netmums is the also only parenting site to provide round the clock care. Each year over three and a half million parents are supported by Netmums specially trained teams of parenting experts, including staff from Relate, Women’s Aid and the Family Rights Group. The site also provides one-to-one support for more than 30,000 of the UK’s most vulnerable mums each year
Womenology – Interview with Marie-Laure Sauty de Chalon –21/02/2011
Xavier Cazard: Can you tell us about the origins of Womenology?
Marie-Laure Sauty de Chalon: I was quite surprised by the fact that there was no French, Gender Studies. There was nothing – or if there was it was very academic – in the world of communications to answer the question “who are women? How are they different from men? Etc. There were socio-demographic studies but there was not, as exists in the US but mainly in English, gender studies. It is because of this that we wanted to launch Womenology, alongside AuFeminin.com, with an aim to work in depth on “how to talk to women.”
XC : What does the site bring for Aufeminin?
MLS : Well it is really very different to AF because AF has audience goals it as well as an objective to target all women on many levels in several languages. On the contrary Womenology provides an intellectual understanding of women. This is not a site to promote AF, it is a site that is made to ensure the advancement of women and explain why they are absolutely key in all decisions.
XC : So it’s a site that is more for AF advertisers than the general public …
MLS : It’s a B to B site that is intended for all those working on the subject of women, whether they are advertisers, agencies … We really want to be the place to go to understand women in all the major countries where AF is located. It is also a place for researchers, academics and all those who work on gender equality.
XC : The site was launched very recently. Have you had any feedback from your community on the interest of this site?
MLS : Well we didn’t promote Womenology within our community, once again, it’s a B to B site. However we did send some links to our favorite agencies and customers and had an amazing reaction, that’s to say they told us that “until now there had not been a place to go to find information on women’s marketing.”
XC : So that means soon, an advertiser or agency who wants to set up a campaign, will find the resources, in terms of content to structure their campaign, on your site?
MLS: Well what is very interesting is that we added lots of content straight away, much of it Anglo-Saxon content, because, as I said, it is more in the U.S. that this area is studied. Immediately customers were asking us, “do you have any information on the women’s sector and banking? “,” Do you know anything about talking to women about cars?” And therefore we developed this highly interactive element which means that already, although we have just started, we have reserved a lot of content and we are in the process of organizing more. We are asked for so much content because everyone realizes that the world of marketing has opened up a lot more.
XC : How do you keep the site updated?
MLS : Well we have a large team that is always working on that subject. They also have a large network, thanks to Daniel Bo, of sociologists and researchers all around the world.
XC : At the moment Womenology is just a website, is it a project that could take other forms in the future?
MLS : It is interesting to ask the question ” is Womenology only a site? “Because if we ask the same question about AF:” Is AF only a site? ” the answer is No. AF is a digital platform because you can find AF on mobiles, mostly on the iPhone, the iPad, on all tablettes and on Facebook of course. Womenology also aims to be as more than just a site, more a platform for understanding women.
XC : So, are you expecting any sort of benefit, do you have any goals with Womenology?
MLS: The thing that makes us stand out is that we are the only French success in the international field of women. That is to say that, although nobody really talks about it, AF is a global success, we are the leader in France of course, but also in Germany, Italy, Spain, England and all countries that have our 6 languages . This position as the leader in French women’s communications, obviously leads to the promotion of women all over the world, and at the same time we do more than just ‘understand’ them but we also know what they’re talking about. We are dedicated to developing Womenology in all languages, for the moment we have just developed French and English, but it is being translated and we will have it in all languages to permanently promote it. Also we have the intention to work with more and more researchers. There are more and more experts on this subject coming from universities. Science Po has created a great example for gender equality, and it can be seen that finally, Europe is starting to work on gender studies.
XC : One could almost imagine that soon you could start your own communication/ marketing agency specializing in women.
MLS : Well we are that, that’s so say a platform for advertisers to find advice on understanding women. I think it will become more however, were starting to see developments, so if we can suggest, communicate and develop with agencies who are trying to communicate with women; that would be the ultimate goal.
XC : I think there are many preconceived ideas about how women consume, is there anything particularly interesting that has been found by Womenology? What are the specific behaviours of women compared to men?
MLS : We launched a very large survey with Ipsos in 8 countries, studying the differences between men and women. What is quite extraordinary is that men of all countries recognize that it is always the women who decide on every purchase of all criteria, even during arguments, it is always the women who have the last word. so we can see already how that, while brands often talk to men or a mixed groups, in reality it is women who decide and they decide with criteria that are extraordinarily different, i.e., everything to do with cost, promotion, color, image etc is received differently to men, therefore there are many elements to consider. Bridget Brennan said cleverly “Pink is not a strategy”, i.e. it is not just because it is pink that it will work; there are actually a number of criteria to consider.
XC : What are the main areas of concern for women?
MLS : It’s really hard to say in 30 seconds, perhaps even impossible, because it is different for each market, and I do not want to just summarize in a sentence and say ” it’s easy, you have to do this ” because it is precisely infinitely more complex. A great difference is that, while men are difficult to influence (apart from by their wives) yet women are influenced by a number of women. And if one wanted to summarize, in fact one could say that “women influence women influencing men” and that’s the big problem is that we must look how with all products women are influenced by their mothers, friends, children, forums and social networks (i.e. unknown women) while men are so very, very linear, influenced only by their wives.
XC : Okay … You mean that social networks are perfectly made for women …
MLS : That’s why AuMasculin.com doesn’t exist.
XC – So I think I’m going to wrap this up as we have covered a lot of interesting things in a short amount of time … Is there anything more you’d like to say about Womenology?
Uh, I do not remember the questions … So what did you say? (MLS reads the questions) So this is difficult, the success … ‘People who spend time on our site, are quite happy with the time spent…’
XC : What are the major figures of AF. Com?
MLS : AF.com is a very large site, it has 44 million visitors per month, including 14 million in France;it is very popular in all topics of interest to women with another huge success which is marmiton.org which had 14 million visitors in December. So it is a very successful web site for all women, it is also not trying to target women in particular. Now we have created Womenology which is truly a laboratory on female behaviour, which is not at all concerned with big audience numbers, but which on the aims to target the best qualitative and quantitative research on gender and gender studies.