4/24/16 • Women: The Under-Tapped Market

As posted in The Gaston Gazette:

(4/24/16) BELMONT, N.C. –  With Mother’s Day just around the corner, this is a perfect time to honor women and their surging power in today’s marketplace. Studies show that over the next decade, women will control two thirds of consumer wealth and be the beneficiaries of the largest transference of wealth in United States’ history — ranging from $12 to $40 trillion. They’re the world’s most influential consumers, and their impact on the economy is growing every year. Globally, incomes for women are predicted to reach a staggering $18 trillion by 2018. That’s a lot of buying power.

Despite all the good news, many businesses are still missing the boat when it comes to marketing to this ever-so-lucrative segment. They tend to use the same old strategies for both genders, and even today, only 3% of advertising creative directors are women. It’s no wonder most women feel like advertisers just don’t “get” them.

The truth is, women process your marketing messages and make purchase decisions very differently than your male audiences (remember Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus?). Your marketing strategy should not and cannot be gender-neutral. If you’re not adjusting your campaigns to appeal to women, you’re missing a big piece of the market pie. Here’s why:

  • Women drive about 80% of all purchases. They’re the primary decision-makers for what to buy (or not to buy) in the vast majority of households, whether it’s a big-ticket item like a new home or everyday purchases like groceries. It’s usually women who determine the need, do the research and manage the buying process. While not all women write the check, rest assured they’re the ones controlling the purse strings. Bridget Brennan, Forbes contributor and expert on marketing to women, puts it best: “If the consumer economy had a sex, it would be female. Women drive 70-80% of all consumer purchasing, through a combination of their buying power and influence … even when a woman isn’t paying for something herself, she is often the influence or veto vote behind someone else’s purchase.”
  • They’re gaining economic ground. According to the 2012 Survey of Business Owners conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, women own 36% of all businesses, representing a 30% jump over the 2007 survey. Women-owned firms employ nearly 7.9 million people and generate $1.5 trillion in sales. Approximately 43% of Americans with more than $500,000 in assets are women. And across the globe, more women are in the workforce than ever before. “This is not a feminist thing, but a straight-down-the-line commercial argument,” says British business management consultant Robert Craven. “Women are not a niche market or a minority – they have wallets and, for many businesses, women as decision-makers and consumers hold the key to future success.” We’re entering a golden age of women’s entrepreneurship, and their influence will continue to affect and change best business practices the world over as more feminine behaviors permeate the previous norms. Underestimate them at a peril to your bottom line.
  • Women talk. It’s no surprise they use far more words in a day than men do, and this works in your favor. When you successfully market to women – when you understand what motivates them as influencers, buyers and users – you can build brand loyalty in your female audience. And women will tell others within their circles of influence. “Women have a multiplier effect,” says Brennan. “They are multiple markets in one. Because women serve as primary caregivers for children and the elderly in virtually every society in the world, women buy on behalf of the people who live in their households, as well as for extended family and friends.” Create brand fans among women and you’ll gain free, word-of-mouth advertising. Cha-ching.

Mystified? Don’t worry. There’s significant research available to help you understand how to design your marketing plans to be female-literate. Craven says, “Women, as consumers, are clearly not a homogenous group that behave and act in a uniform way. Being patronising {sic}, smug or insincere will not get you more sales. Women will spend more with a brand that acknowledges their lifestyle.” As you plan your short- and long-term business goals, remember the 80%. Women are dominating the marketplace more every day. Win them over and you’ll reap the rewards.

Lyerly Agency’s President and CEO Elaine Lyerly and Executive Vice President and COO Melia Lyerly share their 35+ years of marketing, advertising, public relations and brand strategy experience with readers each month in a column published by The Gaston Gazette. See this month’s edition at http://bit.ly/1ruCfCx.