Mary Lou Quinlan Discusses Chick Beer On The CBS Early Show

When it comes to a product marketed towards “chicks,” who better to ask than Just Ask a Woman CEO and Founder Mary Lou Quinlan? The CBS Early Show had the same thought when discussing the merits and drawbacks of Chick Beer, the latest in the line of overtly feminized beverages (learn about another one HERE).

Check out what Mary Lou had to say:

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Don’t Count Us Out. Not Yet. Not Ever.


– An executive in the publishing industry.

“I have so much ambition, so much energy, so much more I want to do, but the guys up top look right past me.”

– 57 year old lawyer, 30 years of practice, 3 kids, one elderly in law at home

“I don’t want a pity party.”

– Superstar women’s basketball coach, 59, announcing she plans to continue coaching despite early onset dementia.

These women all tell different stories with one theme: persistence.

Ironically, persistence has been running in boomer and first wave X-er blood since the early days of our careers. I can remember working at an ad agency when I was about 38 and being told by a senior male colleague, “Well, even though things won’t work out for you, I guess you feel good that the next generation will reap the rewards of the ground you broke.” I jumped out of my skin and down his throat, “I’m happy for whatever the next generation achieves, but I’m just getting started!” That was a time when the word “pipeline” (“There aren’t enough women yet in the pipeline”) was code for “we aren’t going to promote any of the women we already have even if we are promoting less competent men, just because…” Sadly, I still hear that as an excuse for lagging leadership diversity decades later.

Ageism toward women isn’t new, but I had hoped it wasn’t getting worse. To think that 42 is considered old. But in some industries, it is. (I realize it’s not limited to women, but in practice it’s worse for them with the added burden of young and pretty as an unspoken job requirement.) That a woman who is at the prime of her talent is shuffled into the heap waiting for retirement—crazy! Crazy for men, too, but the lawyer quoted above stayed home for about 10 of her kids’ growing up years, so she feels like she’s got a lot more in her to give at an age where her male peers may be dialing down.

And finally, I was struck by today’s heartbreaking but stirring revelation from Pat Summitt, coach of the University of Tennessee’s women’s team, with a record of 1,071 victories, 8 national titles and an Olympic Gold Medal. Only Pat, her school, her team and her doctors can figure out what she ought to do. But I love that she is not giving up. That she is showing what she’s made of, just as she asks her young players to do on the court.

Do not count us out. As consumers. As professionals. As women. Not now. Not ever.

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Since When Is Seafoam Feminine? HTC Bliss To Be Marketed To Women

For the past 24 hours, tech blogs have been atwitter (no pun intended) with leaked images of and speculation about the new HTC Bliss, a pale green smartphone that’s supposedly meant to lure women into the Android market.

Tech blog This Is My Next has dubbed it “HTC’s Lady Phone,” which makes us smile, but we’re not quite sure if we agree with the mocking moniker. Frankly, we’re not sure we hate it. Or love it. It’s a… phone. In a pretty color? Even its admittedly silly name can’t spark our ire. Because from what we can tell so far, it’s a phone that works like a phone, looks like a phone, and cracks like a phone when you drop it on the sidewalk.

Our only concern (because we’re empathic like that): HTC, why limit the selling potential of what might very well be a fantastic product by labeling it “girlie” before it’s even out of the gate? As much as we like to think that the general population will recognize the usefulness under the seafoam, Bliss will alienate a large contingent of both men and women who won’t use a “lady phone” on principle. If your phone does what it should do, why not trust that ladies will embrace it with their dollars—like we all know that women have the cents (that one was intended) to do?

We’ve heard rumblings of the Bliss before, remember?

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The Skinny on Lululemon’s Success


On Friday afternoon, NPR Marketplace interviewed me about the success of retailer Lululemon Athletica. I was excited to weigh in on the yogawear juggernaut because I’ve been a fan since first discovering them in a Vancouver store while on my book tour in 2005. I’m addicted to the brand and have watched (and contributed to!) their growth ever since. Here’s why:

1) Terrific execution at retail: their philosophy of optimism and energy spiced with a dash of yoga zen pervades the entire experience. No matter the store, they cast their salesforce to engage the local community. They’re helpful, never presumptive, always knowledgeable and fun. (They ask where I practice yoga and even offer free classes in store!)

2) Consistently gorgeous design/color/news that can sustain the hefty pricetag in a category of disposable black leggings: They’ve co-opted the fast fashion code of Zara to activewear, driving frequency of visits and size of purchase (Gotta have that grape pullover with the thumbholes before they sell out!)

3) And as I mentioned in the interview, the brand’s secret Whole Truth: the fabric makes your butt look great. (Try it out yourself.)

Even with expansion, the brand hasn’t lost its chic. More like a Chanel bag or a Tory Burch flat, it’s ‘what to be seen in’ at the cooler gyms in big cities, high end ‘burbs and resorts. Lululemon is a cult of ‘namaste meets fashionista’, with a discrete logo that follows you from yoga mat to sidewalk runway. (Oh, and did I mention it makes your butt look good?)

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Despite More Ways To Talk Up, WOM Is Down

A new study from Colloquy Research reveals that Word of Mouth– the 2011 darling of communications for today’s brands– is shutting down.  According to the Colloquy study, of 3,295 U.S. consumers surveyed, just 58% said they often have conversations with family, friends and coworkers about products and services they’ve used, a full 20% down from 2008 survey results.

This dip is particularly surprising given the enormous increase in texting, mobile and social media like FB and Twitter for spreading the word every time we blink. The reason for the reduced chatter? The continued deflated economy that sucks the air out of bragging rights and even erodes consumption of what’s hot. What’s kind of obvious is that when you are not able to buy a lot of stuff, the coolest new brands aren’t on your lips. In fact, they are probably kind of annoying. If things are tight and your appliances are on their last legs and a friend were to inadvertently gush, “Oh, I just bought this great new washer!”, you would clam up or slug her.

As this limp economy lingers and more women either suffer or (if they are OK) keep their buying sprees under the radar, what will it mean for the brands who have been counting on women’s WOM for their marketing strategies? Does it mean brands will have to step up to the plate again and start doing their own heavy lifting? Or that women, the best viral marketers of all, will put their friendships and empathy ahead of their consumerism and not only not talk up the latest whatever, but instead espouse the virtue of not buying…even when they can?

For more of Mary Lou’s insight on WOM, check out her interview with The Small Business Advocate. CLICK HERE.

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Carlsberg Copenhagen: This Beer Matches My Outfit

With the light color palette and clean lines of their newest beer, Copenhagen, Carlsberg looks to entice the quarter of all beer drinkers who are female. While the idea is a good one (why let a quarter of your market fall by the wayside?), this is an actual quote from the company’s innovation director:

“There may be situations where they are standing in a bar and want their drinks to match their style. In this case, they may well reject a beer if the design does not appeal to them.”

Yes, it must be that common “this alcohol doesn’t match my outfit” dilemma that turns many women away from beer. Not the ads portraying them as keg-providing robots. To give Carlsberg credit, though (and Fast Company makes the good point that the company is based in Denmark, one of the world’s most gender-equal countries), the packaging is beautiful—and not pink!

The “androgynous” drink, according to Adweek, won’t make an appearance Stateside—and let’s just point out that beer, not having a sex, gender, or any human biology really, would have a hard time looking androgynous—so it won’t be the new must-have accessory for American women.

Being unable to test it ourselves, we’ll have to address our European counterparts for the answer to the deciding question: How does it taste?

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Television for Women vs Television with Women in Mind

For twelve years we have been trying to help companies gain women’s loyalty by truly understanding them and creating products and services that truly fit their needs. Not once have we recommended to a client that they build a product or service that is exclusively FOR women. That kind of segregation does not boost bottom lines.

We strongly believe that by listening to women you get human solutions not pink ones that are made just for her. When Westin listened to women talk about what they wanted from a hotel room the Heavenly Bed (and its Heavenly cousins) was born. They never had to say that their hotel aimed to be the favorite of women, especially business travelers, but making changes like the clean, fuzzy bed, the curved shower rod and the signature scent showed that the brand had women in mind. When Toyata’s Sienna listened to mothers talk about their mini wagons the famously successful Swagger Wagon viral video series was born. Its brilliance was that it included both parents in the joke truly reflecting how Gen X families operate.

I share all of this to lead into today’s example of why marketing with women in mind is more successful than overtly marketing to women. As the upfronts approach, The New York Post explains that American women are not choosing female focused channels like Lifetime or Hallmark (Lifetime’s rating dropped 17% in the first quarter and Hallmark’s audience drew 17% fewer women than a year ago). They are choosing MTV, Bravo and even the History Channel and ESPN instead. My thesis is that these channels have done a great job defacto marketing to women. There is no doubt that Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise is intended for women’s audience (and that all women want Andy Cohen to be their best friend) yet Bravo never has to say they are telelvision for women. And their numbers are up 37%. Even “grown up” women want to watch Jersey Shore and The Real World and as obnoxious as I find Snooki mania you can’t knock the 67% jump in viewership for the quarter. Besides the more unisex programming of shows like Top Chef there is also the husband/boyfriend factor at play. Bottom line, you can probably get your husband to watch something on Bravo but ask him to tune into Lifetime and he will find something that needs his immediate attention.

The jury is still out on OWN but Oxygen, Lifetime and Hallmark have their work cut out for them to compete with all of the cable channels that are stealing their audience by being inclusive.

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April 13, 2024
by Mary Lou Quinlan

A look at an early production of WORK


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The God Box Goes Global!

“The God Box” has grown to include an app, audio book, philanthropic venture and solo show performed by Mary Lou across the US. Now The God Box Project goes global to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
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