What female economic powerhouses mean for brands?

    Posted on 6 Mar 2019, 17:56:41

    Tomorrow (Friday, March 8) is International Women’s Day, time to take stock of gender issues and celebrate women’s achievements.

    Marches, speeches and events around the world will explore the wide-ranging contributions women make across the cultural, social, economic and political world, while also highlighting the enduring problems that remain to be tackled to bring about gender equality.

    We, at Versiti, felt that it was a perfect chance to examine the hugely influential economic power that women wield; a power that often surprises people and flies in the face of the belief that men are the biggest purchasers. However, the truth is astonishing.

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    Women are economic powerhouses

    Here is a quick selection based on the US market. First of all, women control more than 60% of all personal wealth in the U.S. This means that they are the people most likely to make decisions about how to spend their household’s money. (Source: Federal Reserve, MassMutual Financial Group, BusinessWeek, Gallup)

    Despite slight variations in the figures quoted, the facts suggest that women are the key decision-makers in 85% of all consumer purchases. 85%. What’s more, in some sectors this is considerably higher. Evidence from the US shows that women are in charge of:

    • 91% of new homes decisions
    • 92% of decisions about holidays
    • 80% of healthcare-related decisions
    • 93% of OTC pharmaceutical purchases
    • 89% of decisions about bank accounts
    • 93% of all food-related decisions

    The critical role of women in consumer purchases is even obvious in relation to goods that are traditionally seen as male-dominated. For instance, women:

    • make 66% of decisions of PCs
    • make 65% of decisions about new cars
    • watch the Super Bowl in far greater numbers (50.4 million) than tuned into the Oscars (24.5 million), Grammys (23.8 million) and Emmys (8 million)
    • comprise 45% of all video game players

    Moreover, women are also making most of the purchases for products that are clearly (and even exclusively) targeting men, such as shaving products and men clothing.

    What does that mean for brands?

    The important thing about these stats is that they challenge the notion of male buying influence. Research like this provides a fantastic opportunity to shift the way in which brands understand their consumers and the messages that will connect with them.

    So… what are the implications for brands? Well, with women representing the majority of the purchaser market, there is an imperative (at least for those companies who want to keep making profit!) to design products, services and communications with the needs and aspirations of women held firmly in mind. To ensure that these products and services can be accessed effectively, they also need to understand exactly where women browse and shop, which (social) media they consume and produce, what drives their considerations and decisions, and what makes them loyal.

    It’s also worth pondering the implications of recognising the economic power of women for the workforce profile and organisational cultures of brands. Indeed, with women being pivotal in purchasing decisions, it makes sense to have more women working in positions of decision-making authority inside brands, to enable them to connect better with this audience. You only have to cast an eye over some recent campaigns to see the disastrous effects of all male boardrooms marketing, or creating, products ‘for women’ (we’re still looking at you Bic!).

    Having women in charge helps ensure that brands address the real or perceived needs and aspirations of women, understand the wider context and pressures for their purchase decisions, avoid stereotypical portrayals and generally ‘speak the language’ of women.

    As more and more women are educated and into work globally, having women in the team is also a way of future-proofing organisations and making ensuring they stay relevant.

    Women in the workplace

    Progressive shifts like those represented in these numbers are exactly what International Women’s Day is all about. However, brands and corporations should seek to value the power of women, and their economic might, for more than just a single day or week. Including more women at a senior level, crafting messages that resonate with the real experiences of their female consumers and striving for equality through their brand will not only aid women themselves and benefit wider society; it will also profit brands. It seems a no brainer to us...

    If you’d like to talk about how to become even more attractive to women consumers, staff and potential employees, get in touch using the email info@versiti.co

    You can also join us for a panel discussion on Friday, called The Battle For Balance, where we will be joined by none other than Google's Laura Wheeler. More details here.

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    Written by Dr John Whittle

    Topics: Gender

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