Brands can’t ignore women

In 2005, in a historic first, women “under the age of 30” in the biggest U.S. cities surpassed men “in earning power. ” Across the globe, women are faring better than men in employment trends. In Brazil and the U.S., for example, far more men than women are out of work. Even in higher education, women are “outpacing” men, achieving 140 bachelor degrees for every 100 that men attain.  From 1969 to 2000, the number of female graduates increased 157%, but the number of male graduates increased only 39%. As a result of such advances, women are gaining prominence in the global marketplace as new “economic powerhouses.”

Women are leaving their mark on every segment of every industry. They run companies, practice law and medicine, and travel the globe on business. In addition, they continue to act as social directors for their families and influence major decisions about household spending.

Research shows that women are responsible for almost 50% of all electronics purchases . That’s why major electronics stores are going to great lengths to make their retail outlets female-friendly. Changes at Best Buy include more women on the sales floor, a woman’s voice on the loudspeaker and interactive displays designed to attract women shoppers. Its “Geek Squad” offers help with equipment from store to home, including set-up, installation and user education. Best Buy has feminized its store design with soft corners, better lighting and wood fixtures.

Take-Aways

  • Companies that don’t acknowledge and market to women consumers will fall behind.
  • Women seek “cleanliness, control, safety and considerateness” in any environment.
  • Housing design has evolved to reflect women’s tastes. Kitchens and bathrooms are no longer utilitarian spaces but rather women’s “playgrounds” and retreats.
  • Many of the most popular home design trends incorporate children in some way, save time or energy, or help women multitask.
  • More women now travel for business, so hotels are catering to their preferences in “cleanliness, lighting, temperature, color” and safety.
  • The emerging popularity of natural foods is largely the result of women’s vigilance about what they feed their families.
  • Department stores are evolving as women’s shopping habits change. Retailers are becoming leaner and offering fewer choices, since women have less time to browse.
  • Retailers continue to overlook a vital market segment: women in their 50s and older .

Most companies have much to learn about selling to women. In 2008 the Boston Consulting Group fielded a comprehensive study of how women felt about their work and their lives, and how they were being served by businesses.

Here’s what we found, in brief: Women feel vastly underserved . Despite the remarkable strides in market power and social position that they have made in the past century, they still appear to be undervalued in the marketplace and underestimated in the workplace. They have too many demands on their time and constantly juggle conflicting priorities—work, home, and family. Few companies have responded to their need for time-saving solutions or for products and services designed specifically for them.

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