How much thought have you given to the act of “house-holding” your data? Quite possibly a lot. Grouping customers together into “family units” is known as house-holding. This is done for at least one important reason—savings. After all, treating the individuals within a household uniquely seems pretty expensive. But, at what cost does this savings come? Understanding a customer’s household is a big part of your data driven marketing efforts.

The Data Driven Decision of Intelligent House-Holding

The old way of “house-holding” is relevant when making household purchases, like cable service. But not with making individual purchases like shoes. Today even a 3-year-old child has a say in the type of shoes they wear.

We like to think of the new way to view the household as the Intelligent Household where each person in the household is treated like an individual and each consumer journey matters. Separately. Individually.

Gender Identity Matters in Marketing and Data, Too

Here are two ways to consider—or reconsider—your approach to house-holding data for both digital and print impact.

1.) The impact of gender differences on response

With all of the brands dedicated to serving only women (and there are even some focused only on men) it got us to thinking. Do men and women respond at the same rate to the same things (when the product and service applies equally to both)? After all, they are both people—and we are making our best creative appeals to people without any particular bias.

Surprise! There is a difference. And, at least for some of our work, the difference is not small. Certainly not small enough to overlook. It’s a whole new data-driven discovery.

When you consider the fact that it is far more common for women to be house-holded within the name of the man of the household and when you consider the fact that women often make the purchasing decisions, this does not yield an optimized approach.

Instead, why not seek to identify the ways you can make a creative appeal more to each gender and try it. For example, women are more hungry for information, background and rationale—and may be more skeptical of promises. There’s a lot of good data and research that supports this direction—and I’m abbreviating it here.

2.) The loss of a connection established

I struggled mightily for how to phrase this one. Here’s what I mean. I have a certain brand to which I am quite faithful. I make many purchases within this particular brand—spend more than my fair share on their products, and I own their credit card, solely in my name. My husband also favors the same brand. His name is not on my credit card, and he does not have one of his own. Yes, he buys things at the same place, but not with the same account and not with one of their store cards. Yet, when I go to MY page on their site, I have been house-holded based on some fancy data work that they no doubt worked hard to manipulate. After all, we both do make purchases and we do live at the same address.

“Hello, Spyro!” it greets me cheerfully when I land on the profile page of my account, where he has never once made a purchase.

At what cost does this slick data manipulation come? Well, loyalty, I’m afraid. And reputation. I’m not exactly thrilled with this, and neither is he. He gets served up recommendations for teenage girl clothes and my identity is seemingly lost—or at the very best, hidden. Not ideal. And frankly, it doesn’t make them seem very smart.

As marketers we know it is important to value your clients and demonstrate that value in ways large and small. I sincerely doubt that this brand is even aware of the impact this (likely operationally-driven) act. Yet this simple mistake adds-up to ignoring people who spend money. Ouch.

This particular house-holding offers no advantage—there are no savings in the bill or statement sent, so I doubt due diligence was paid to the change. Once my page was mine. And now it’s not.

What ways have you seen gender differences impact your marketing efforts?