From Target to Starbucks and everything in between, women are the driving force for lucrative business ventures, yet they are constantly misunderstood as consumers and communicators. Women drive an estimated 70 to 80 percent of the world’s economy, according to the Harvard Business Review and the Boston Consulting Group. Every year, their contribution to the workforce and the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grows.
Women are working more than ever before and employment outside the home has changed the way women contribute to the economy. A report from the Center for American Progress indicated that women contribute 1.7 trillion output in the American Gross Domestic Product, and the GDP was 11 percent higher in 2012 because of women, according to analysis for Trading Economics.
The economy does better with female workers, considering women often shop for more than just themselves. A study done by a marketing research firm called Catalyst showed that approximately 75 percent of women consider themselves the primary shoppers of households.
78 million women contribute to the American workforce, the Department of Labor reported, but women still have unequal domestic responsibilities, like child-care and housework. Often, women work a job all day, then come home and scramble to accomplish household duties. Considering how much money women contribute to the economy as workers and consumers, it makes sense that the most lucrative shopping has shifted towards convenience. If it’s not making their lives easier, women aren’t buying it.
Starbucks drinks are more expensive than making a cup of coffee at home, but Starbucks sells at least 4 million cups of coffee each day, according to USA Today. Obviously, not all 4 million are sold to women, but there’s something to be said about a business that sells the experience of the product, not just the product.
Bridget Brennan, a market analyst who studies women’s impact on consumerism, performed research that also indicated that women look formore than just appearance when they shop. The overall takeaway from a shopping venture needs to satisfy the need of the product and leave the consumer feeling confident about the money they spent.
Brennan’s research showed that 91 percent of household purchases are influenced by women. However, a study done by Marketing to Moms Coalition found that roughly 50 percent of women feel misunderstood by marketers. This means that a large group of shoppers in the American marketplace feel dissatisfied with the way products are being advertised and huge areas of potential profit are lost.
Marketing officials continually miss the mark with women across the board. A study done by Insight Marketing showed women of different age groups, with and without children, agreed on brands that marketed well towards them and those that didn’t.
Ineffective brands included Mercedes Benz, United Way Health Care, and Harrah’s Casinos, which is particularly problematic, considering how Baby Boomer women have both the interest and means to purchase all three. Brands that did particularly well in Insight Marketing’s study included Target, Febreeze, and Amazon. Brennan found thatwomen have to fill a multitude of roles from mother to employee to consumer.
Brennan’s marketing company Female Factor has conducted extensive research to see what women are looking for and repeatedly they’ve come up with convenience. Services are valued higher than products: women don’t want stuff, they want help. For example, one company that women were found to favor was Amazon, a website with a whole world of items at the buyer’s fingertips, a one—stop shop. The ease of hassle-free delivery from Amazon outweighs the potential savings of in-store shopping.
Women know their value as consumers, and they can see right through marketing gimmicks. “Making it pink” is not effective in making women want to purchase a product and is an immediate giveaway that the marketer has not put time and effort into developing a worthwhile strategy. These products lose both money and support, so why do marketing firms continue to try and gender products unnecessarily? Brennan’s research found over 90 percent of the head creative director roles at the top 100 U.S. advertising agencies are occupied by men.
Despite the lack of gender equality in high-up business roles, women run the economy. In a capitalist society where profit is the most important, it’s amazing to think about the still untapped potential of women as buyers. Women are getting married and having children later in life (if at all), but they are making serious purchases earlier on.
Houses, cars, insurance, and other big ticket items that were previously considered to be family affairs are now being purchased by young single women. These consumers want to be taken seriously and when they aren’t, it’s a lose-lose situation.