November 27, 2017
By Aideen Doherty, Interim Head Of The Global Hub Team @ Action
Like most other people on this planet, I absolutely love Game Of Thrones. In fact, I am so in love with it that I told my husband that we shall call our first baby girl, Khaleesi. Ok, perhaps I won’t go that far, but I am incredibly impressed by the strong and empowering cast of women. I even have a t-shirt that reads- ‘I’m not a princess, I’m a Khaleesi’. Almost half of the viewers that follow this series are women and the author refers to himself as being most proud of his female fan base.
On a more serious note, women today are spearheading breakthroughs being made in technology, healthcare, society in general, and beyond. Think of Sheryl Sandberg, Janet Yellen, Dame Nemat Talaat Shafik, Miuccia Prada, Angela Ahrendts, Susan Wojcicki, to name just a few. We are also witnessing some radical changes in the lives of women globally. At the end of September Saudi Arabia announced that it would allow women to drive, ending a longstanding policy that many of the world knew them by. The change is scheduled to take effect in June 2018.
Admittedly, we still face some extremely serious societal challenges, as the latest Weinstein news has proved, but we are stronger and more ambitious than ever. We are ready to create a new ‘norm’. I honestly can’t think of a better time to be a woman.
Which brings me to my main concern. As marketers, it is not enough for us to stand by and say ‘oh aren’t these incredible changes’ and then go about our work with the exact same approach. No, we need to take affirmative action, we need to fully and wholly understand that women are, as many have put it, the next emerging economy.
According to one EY study, women drive an estimated 70-80% of consumer spending with their purchasing power and influence. These figures alone suggest how foolish it would be to ignore the true power of the female consumer.
So the question is, do you consider women enough when building your global communication strategies?
- An increasing number of women are working
Research from HP shows that more women than ever are working, and they have the stats to back it up. The number of women in the workforce in Australia has increased from 43% in 1978 to almost 60% in 2015. According to the HP study in 2014, women made up 47% of the total Canadian labor force, compared to just 37% in 1976. The report also revealed that if you’re a woman living in Uganda, Namibia, or Nigeria, you are three times more likely to run a business than your husband, son, brother or uncle. I don’t need to elaborate on what this means for your brand.
- Women influence purchases
All you really need to do to verify this one is carry out some basic observatory research in the mall, or supermarket, or even amongst your closest group of friends. Women have a massive say on what is purchased. Women also tend to have higher expectations of services and products. Consider this, according to The Harvard Business Review, women make the purchasing decision for 94% of home furnishings, 92% of vacations, 91% of homes, 60% of automobiles and even 51% of consumer electronics.
- Women are taking on more leadership roles than ever before
According to author David Tyrie from What Women Can Teach Us About Money, women now own 40% of America’s privately-owned businesses and hold half its wealth—estimated to be $11 trillion of a total $22 trillion by 2020. We are embracing what has been termed the ‘she-conomy’.
As Bridget Brennan puts it in her book, Why She Buys, we should be studying the female culture with the same focus that studying a foreign market requires. Just as we apply ourselves to find inroads to different markets for clients, we should also apply ourselves to truly target and understand the main drivers for different women.
When you reflect on your communications plans for 2018, be mindful of how powerful the female consumer really is, and assess whether you have truly considered this in your strategy and approach. Speaking as a woman, don’t fall into gender traps of making designs ‘pink’, but rather, dig deeper into how to build a genuine emotional bond between your brand and the female consumer.
I will stop with the stats now, but surely it is time for a rethink, if it’s not already in the making.