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Women Rule

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Up-Comers – The 3rd Billion Will Influence All the Rest

“Life as a priestess to the virgin goddess Hestia isn't all that hard, the most important rule is to know who you are.” – Leah (Xena Warrior Princess, TV Series)

Thanks to the one billion (each) consumers in China and India, the world economy is bouncing back.

Good, but…

We tend to overlook the world’s best market influences…the 3.25 billion females.

The truth is, we need to understand them a little better.


Well, the “female economy” will drive $5 trillion in incremental global spending during the next several years.

More than 1 billion women work worldwide.

More than half of college students are women.

Women control more than half of the wealth in the US.
So maybe we should have them participate a little more in the industry processes.

Of the recent Fortune 500 list of CEOs, only 16 were female.

Load Bearers
Only 16 women were the best qualified to run a major corporation when 484 men did such a lousy job of managing their businesses?  

Man, even these 16 weren’t “worth” as much as their male counterparts!

Sure, we have our tokens – Carol Bartz, at Yahoo; Ursula Burns,  at Xerox; and a few others.

Referring to Ms Burns as a token is really a disservice.

This straight-talking boss became the first black female CEO on the Fortune 500.  In addition to strengthening a company that's still rebounding from near bankruptcy, she does her own shopping.  

That’s leadership by example!

It’s difficult to believe that there aren’t more prepared, enabled, willing to be industry forces, market changers.

A recent report by Booz & Co recently noted that more than one billion fell into the not prepared/enabled categories.


Figure 3 - Up-n’-Comers – They’re about a fourth of the women age 20 – 65.  The 3rd billion falls into six categories reflecting how educationally prepared and enabled they are, as well as whether they live in a developed or emerging nation.  Source – Booz & Co.

There are reasons this exists -- cultural constraints and educational restrictions that have held women back in such areas as Latin America, Asia, the Pacific Rim, the Middle East, Eastern and Central Europe, and Africa.

However, Booz and ILO (International Labor Organization) experts say these roadblocks are disappearing.

Booz says that if we get this Third Billion into mainstream middle-class, hockey stick sales will result.

We admit right now we aren’t an expert on this subject – just ask my wife and daughter – but we read a lot…study a lot…analyze a lot…observe a lot…listen a lot.

Still, we’re a lot like Sigmund Freud, “The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is "What does a woman want?"

We all know the obvious… women buy goods and services differently from men.

Companies with a strong female product/service understood Jill Ruckelshaus when she said, “No one should have to dance backward all of their lives.”

Decision Makers
Since that is true and they are making more of the household discretionary purchases (Boston Consulting Group says over 70%), then perhaps it behooves us to understand what they want and where they get their information, assistance to make purchasing decisions and how they develop product/service loyalties.

If the female is such an important decision maker for our products, services why do most organizations fall short?

  • They don't do enough research with their female consumer base – how they learn about products, how they investigate/buy/use/recommend them.
  • They don't understand how a working mother balances it all. (Wouldn’t want their “job!”)
  • Guys work with guys to develop/design products/services, set prices, create marketing efforts.
  • Senior male execs usually have manufacturing, engineering, finance backgrounds so they focus on technical, functional features, capabilities.  Women buy on how the product makes them feel – wise, smart, intelligent, understood, appreciated – and tend to replace products more quickly.
  • If business is slow, males cut prices, create promos to bump up sales.  Females question why no one wants the product or where you compromised quality.
  • Women look for what is new, better and are delighted with innovation, but too many firms take the easy/cheap product development route with incremental enhancements/improvements.
  • A testosterone product that has cosmetic changes – size, shape, packaging, color, marketing strategy – and doesn’t meet women’s wants/needs, doesn’t fool them.
  • A “me-too” or “XYZ killer” product doesn’t impress her much.  She appreciates original design, flair, aesthetics.
  • Stereotypical marketing messages that don’t address the woman’s wants, needs, problems fall on deaf ears.
  • Males don’t understand/appreciate the power of the female’s “community” which has become even larger (and stronger) because of the Internet.

Figure 4 - Community Members – Females don’t just cruise the iNet.  They head online with a purpose and a focus.   They connect and stay connected.  Source – ShesConnected

In addition to being a part of the out-of-house workforce, women seldom are afforded the “luxury” of putting aside the household tasks.
As a result, they feel a lack of time in their lives and pressure to “make” time to complete all their necessary tasks.  Their time challenges are:  
1. Too many demands on their time
2. Too many conflicting priorities
3. Not enough time for themselves
When men want something, they go to the store, buy it, tell their buddies/significant other all the research, analysis they did (O.K., rationalize).

A woman…shops!

They look more closely at consumer reviews and they trust, respond more positively to the consumer reviews.

Figure 5 - Reads, Responds – Females online are more likely to read and respond to product reviews and take action if they’re looking for something in that product/service category.  Source – SheSpeaks, iVillage

Information Hunters
Females find out about a product or service from a number of different sources and really do their research.

Online Activities of Female Internet Users



Figure 6 - Premium Time – Female Internet users make the most of their time by handling a variety of tasks, including product research, news updates and family/friends activities.  O.K., …we’re tired.  Source - SheSpeaks

They have to because:
  • even as CEO, they don’t make as much as a guy
  • they have to balance work and life

Perhaps this is why they participate more in social media activities.

 Figure 7 - Time Well Spent – Females seem to find their online time as a break from the stress of work/family to connect with others and share experiences, information.  Source – BlogHer, iVillage, Compass Partners

Mothers are more involved with social media than what most marketers see as their “sweet spot” market – GenX, GenY people.

According to SheConnected, more than 59 percent of female social netters visit sites multiple times a day; and 14 percent check at least once a day.
It’s all part of their balancing activities such as teams, friends, school, jobs, a life away from work.
Or, as an unknown author (probably a connected female) said, “I am woman!  I am invincible!  I am pooped!”

While companies may recognize this with the 2.25 billion of women who don’t fall into the up-and-coming third-billion market, it is going to be more important for those who are newly enabled, newly prepared.  That’s because they aren’t limited to one country, one culture but are found everywhere.

As they become more mainstream, they’ll lead more independent lives, their online activities will grow  and their reach, influence will only increase.


Figure 8 - Broader Activities – As the 3rd billion consumers becomes more educated and enabled, they will undoubtedly find communities on the iNet where they can exchange information, ideas, experiences and grow rapidly as major purchasing influences.  Source – ShesConnected

They will invest more of the household income in the education of the children and will have a much greater influence/impact on their goals, wants, needs.

They’ll shape the consumers you want to reach…tomorrow.

The female economy is becoming too big for companies to ignore.  BestBuy, Target, Google, Microsoft and a number of other firms are aggressively assessing what they can do to enable,  prepare, recognize, address these consumers.

Companies should:
-        recognize the phenomenon, its size, market segment
-        invest resources against market/product roadmaps
-        closely examine female satisfactions, dissatisfactions
-        prioritize how they will address the dissatisfactions, product/service shortcomings
-        monitor, actively respond in an open, honest manner

Companies that best serve -- and will benefit from -- the female economy are the ones that are willing work hard to do the impossible…learn about female consumers hopes, wishes, wants, needs, goals.

Women sometimes know we’re trying, but they stand shoulder to shoulder then turn to their daughters as Xena’s Leah did and say, “Heathens to the left of me, infidels to the right! Tremendous! Next thing is you will be telling me you're not virgins!”

Somehow you just know when you’re not on target with ‘em.

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