One of the cardinal sins for any business is to think of your customers as a single demographic. Often many small business owners will think of their patrons as simply their customers and assume that all of their customers will react in the same fashion to whatever change they make their make to their business.
This is usually never the reality, as different consumers from different parts of the socioeconomic ladder and ethnographic geography respond in various ways from anything from price changes to logo redesigns.
Today I want to focus on female consumers and some of the interesting facts and trends that professional services firm EY has noted in their report Women: the next emerging market. (Click on the photo to open up a fancy presentation style, or just continue below.)
1) Women are the consumer economy: 70-80% of all consumer purchasing is due to either female buying power, and/or influence. Influence meaning that a woman is the one who makes the deciding vote on whether or not a conversion takes place even when they are not the direct purchaser. This is consistent across the spectrum of industries even in realms that a person might consider male dominated.
2) Women are the multiplier effect: In nearly all societies on Earth women act as the primary caregiver to children and the elderly. This means that they are not only making purchases and purchasing decisions for themselves, but for those in their households, extended family, and friends. A single woman could be the gatekeeper for purchases for a dozen people or more.
3) Don’t make gender your blind spot: Of all of the possible demographic differences between consumers from race to religion, gender is the single most powerful determinate. Most business courses that universities teach often ignore this factor in course work to the disadvantage of their pupils. Even more frightening, often many businesses do not think deeply about this in business practices or the workplace. By not paying attention and progressively analysing how this incredibly unique and powerful demographic thinks and acts, you are actively harming your productivity and profitability.
4) Study women as you would a foreign market: Men and women even from the same place are raised with two entirely unique cultures in relation to their gender. Female culture should be studied with the same level of depth that a business would give to their study of the European or Asian markets. Female culture is equally, if not more complex than any other market you hope to maximize.
5) Just making it Pink isn’t marketing to women: A company that thinks it is catering to women by using pink as often the only alternative color of a product, is more than likely only sending the message to women that they put barely any thought into it. Unless it is for raising money for breast cancer, pink is just another color among many. The age of pink for girls and blue for boys died in the last century.
6) Using the name on the bill to determine the decision maker is often a mistake: Relying on whose name appears on the credit card often misses the importance of the woman as the final decider on purchases. While many males will be the cardholder, even in households in which the woman does not work, she still acts as the financial director of the home.
7) The gender-balance of a management team should reflect your customer base: Studies have shown that companies with gender-balanced teams have a higher ROI than companies that do not. So if women make up a significant number of your customers, then think about having your management team reflect it for positive financial results.
8) Look at long term demographic trends for long term planning: Being well educated on rising trends will always give you a decisive edge over your competitors with a particular demographic. Several trends affect women consumers, such as:
- Historically high involvement of women in the workforce.
- The average marriage age is rising.
- Younger people are having less children.
9) Women are always females before they are consumers: Women around the world are more similar than they are different. United by their biology, physical development, and cultural role in society as caregivers, relationship builders, and communicators. Likewise some of the negative issues they face, while varying to degree based on geography and culture, are universal.
10) Customer service is key to success with women: Women put a higher value on service than men. So by improving your service to satisfy your female customers, you will as a result improve it for everyone.
Female domination of the consumer market has arrived and there is no turning back. Now you only have to decide whether your business is ready for this brave new world. Will you learn to adapt to the changing market, or go extinct like the dinosaurs?