As the global female consumer market strengthens, marketers are more interested in the best way to approach this key demographic, who are already the key decision makers in some households. In Russia, for example, 53.7% of households were headed by females in 2014 and 50.6% in the USA. Women are making purchasing decisions for themselves, their husbands and their children across multiple sectors while the evolution of female labour participation is increasing household purchasing power more generally as dual-income households rise in number. Although the gender pay gap remains a global challenge (Euromonitor data reveals that the global average female disposable income per capita in 2014 was only two-thirds of the male equivalent), women are better educated, wealthier and more financially independent than previous generations. So what do women want when it comes to consumption?
1. Avoid stereotypes
One of the most important points for marketers to remember is to avoid the pink and fluffy stereotype. They need to think more about empowering women instead. Additionally, more females are interested in sectors where they have traditionally felt underserved such as technology, electronics and sports. The rise of single-person households will accentuate this demand. Euromonitor forecasts that single-person households will be the fastest-growing household group globally in 2015-2030 with growth of 33.4% equivalent to 120 million households.
Androgynous consumption is therefore gaining ground either through unisex products or a blurring of gender lines. One example is Selfridges department store in London, which launched a short campaign called “agender” in March 2015 where they merged the womenswear and menswear department over three floors. The aim was to remove the stereotypes of shopping and to offer gender neutral clothing collections.
2. Multi-taskers seeking time-saving solutions and work-life balance
A side effect of progress in the world of work is that many women feel they are juggling their lives and multi-tasking as an employee, wife and mother. Yet this has resulted in opportunities to satisfy the demand for time-saving solutions in a desire to achieve a work-life balance. Euromonitor’s Middle Class Home Survey (based on around 6,600 online consumers ranging in age from 15 to 65+ and living in 16 major markets in 2013) revealed that the bulk of household chores and cooking/baking fell to women, with the results being more or less the same in developed and emerging markets.
Prospects exist for convenience, disposable household products, childcare services as well as resolutions for looking after elderly parents in the context of population ageing. Some women will find stress-management concepts (such as the growing trends of mindfulness and mediation) appealing or pursue brief moments of leisure that can be fitted into a busy schedule. There is also likely to be more appetite for one-stop retail solutions or stores offering multiple products and services under one roof.
Another trend becoming more prominent is the fact that women have become influencers. By talking to each other and sharing recommendations, women are steering consumption decisions. Many women like to research and read peer-to-peer reviews before making purchasing decisions, especially for big ticket items, holidays and hotels. Tapping into this arena is the rise of lifestyle blogs (such as Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop website) and video bloggers or vloggers, the army of which is growing on YouTube and who companies are reaching out to in order to market their products based on the sheer number of subscribers these influencers have accumulated. Businesses should think about enabling online product reviews and providing shareable content that will get women talking about their brands on social media. Euromonitor predicts that the number of Internet users worldwide will reach 4.5 billion by 2030, up from 2.7 billion in 2014.
4. Ethical consumption
According to trade surveys, more women in both developed and emerging countries are positive about brands that make ethical ethos and transparency part of their remit. Women are interested in the stories behind the brand, which are increasingly influencing purchasing decisions especially when combined with value and affordability. CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and Sustainability are more than just buzzwords. Some brands are taking this one step further by using female empowerment itself to push consumption. Coca Cola is an example of a company using its CSR strategy to empower women. Its “5by20” global commitment since 2010 aims to economically empower five million female entrepreneurs across its value chain by 2020. This includes providing training courses for business skills or connecting women to mentors.
5. No “one” woman
The final factor is to remember that the female consumer market is large and diverse. There is no “one” woman where a one-size fits all strategy will apply. Just as businesses need to cater to particular markets, marketers should strategise for the demands of different women, countries and age-groups all of which will create various demands. There are four key consumer groups of women to watch globally: The Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) will likely be interested in experiences and luxury brands (1.2 billion globally in 2014); the Single Professional women who are the main decision makers with no dependents enabling greater discretionary spending potential; the Chinese woman – China was home to the largest female consumer market in 2014; and the Indian female consumer, which will overtake China to become the largest female consumer market by 2025.
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