Women Consumers and How Retailers Can Better Serve Them
This is an $18 trillion global spending story. Seventy percent to 80 percent of consumer purchasing is controlled by women. There's a reason why many retailers have shifted their language from share of wallet to share of purse, and why terms like clientele’ing are starting to replace terms like showrooming.
Women are the gatekeepers to household and discretionary spending, and they don’t shop or buy the same way as the other gender.
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, in 1920:
- 23 percent of women were in the labor force — according to one study that figure is now over 60 percent.
- 9 percent of lawyers were women — recently, 33 percent.
- 12 percent of pharmacists were women — recently, 52 percent.
- 1 percent of civil engineers were women — recently, 12.7 percent.
Women vote more often and in larger numbers than men. Women are simply more involved in all the major decisions in a household, and what’s happening in day-to-day life. The variances in behaviors by age band are shifting this even more, but some things hold true for retailers:
- You must demonstrate altruistic tone and intent.
- You must use “their” language or let them say it.
- “Thanks” and “I’m sorry” go a long way.
- Content is entertainment, not advertising.
- Show vs. tell.
- Pink is not a strategy. Stories and pictures are what connect.
- Brand loyalty lineage almost always follows the dominant woman in the household.
The old saying is, “going shopping with your husband is like hunting with a game warden.” Today, women are the hunters and the game wardens.
It's important to understand that our world of instant gratification is largely focused on men. Men still dominate purchasing on mobile and tablet devices as well as large-ticket impulse buys. Men are users of online auction sites and marketplaces like eBay, the master of the impulse purchase and a more “deal”-oriented buyer.
Breaking down the stereotype further, there are four categories of women shoppers:
- Social Catalysts: This group represents slightly more than one-third of women. They tend to be planners, organizers, take pride in their friendship status, and consider themselves the expert within their social circle. As a consequence, they tend to be “influencers.” Almost 80 percent of this group think a night on the town is money well spent, but they're likely to seek out bargains to keep up with the latest trends.
- Natural Hybrids: This group of stable and poised women represents about one-third of women, slightly less than the social catalyst group. The natural hybrids seem to operate in a continual state of equilibrium. They know there’s a time and place for everything — a time to spend, and a time to save. Their approach to shopping falls between safe, practical purchases and splurges. They tend to purchase classic products: long-lasting items that aren’t too trendy.
- Content Responsibilities: About one-fifth of women neither set nor spread trends. This group tends to treat shopping as an errand or chore, rather than a fun experience or an adventure. However, they tend to be lifelong and increasingly loyal customers. Eighty percent do not consider social status an important part of their life. These practical, responsible, loyal consumers crave a hassle-free shopping experience.
- Cultural Artists: Representing slightly more than one in 10, women in this group are considered “super shoppers,” constantly trying different things and starting new trends. They're the group companies actively seek for new products.
As women continue to be the dominant purchasers in most households, retailers are tasked with better understanding their preferences and behaviors, then delivering experiences, products, pricing, etc., that align with those behaviors. Those brands that do it best — in-store, online and across channels — figure to generate loyal customers and healthier businesses.
Related story: Ready or Not, Digital-First Retail is Here
With more than 25 years of experience in digital marketing and marketing technology, Baker is an award-winning industry thought leader, columnist and speaker. He has held executive roles at publicly traded, leading agencies and marketing services providers including Razorfish, Targetbase, Agency.com and Acxiom. Direct Marketing roles at American Airlines and Franklin Covey as well as startups including Cordial, TwelveHorses, MindArrow/RadicalMail — a first generation rich media messaging company — and DigitalThink, the first eLearning Platform that went public in 1999. He has served as strategic advisor to various media and technology companies.
Baker is one of only three individuals to be awarded the MediaPost Lifetime Achievement award (in 2012) for his contributions to the digital marketing industry, and he was also the recipient of the DMA-EEC Thought Leader of the Year award in 2016 for his positive impact on digital marketing. He is a MediaPost “Email Insider” columnist and former “Email Insider” Summit Chairman and program director. His works have also been published in iMedia Connection, Internet Retailer, Adweek, Direct Marketing News, ClickZ, The Drum and Chief Marketer.