Influence and Power Through Spending

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Women control over $20 trillion in world-wide spending.
That’s a lot of buying power.


Catalyst defines buying power as the total personal income that is available after taxes, for spending on virtually everything. Women hold tremendous power in the world economy, because they  drive consumer spending. In fact, women account for 85% of consumer purchases.

Here are a few reasons why:

  1. As education advances and marriage delays, there are more women earning their own paychecks than ever. Global incomes of women are estimated to reach $18 trillion by 2018.
  2. Even if a woman doesn’t earn a paycheck, she is still likely the gatekeeper to her household’s expenditures.
  3. Women have a multiplier effect. As primary caregivers for children and the elderly, women often buy on behalf of other household members.

So, what does this mean?

First of all, companies should need to understand how to tailor marketing messages to women. Bridget Brennan, an expert on women’s spending patterns, says companies should study women as you would a foreign market. Female culture has its own language, behaviors, and perceptions. The solution is not to make your product pink, like Dell attempted to do a few years ago:

“Consider Dell’s short-lived effort to market laptops specifically to women. The company fell into the classic “make it pink” mind-set with the May 2009 launch of its Della website. The site emphasized colors, computer accessories, and tips for counting calories and finding recipes. It created an uproar among women, who described it as “slick but disconcerting” and “condescending.” –Harvard Business Review

Dell corrected its error quickly, but the error shows the vast misunderstanding that often comes with marketing to women.

Companies should also work intentionally to stop promoting false female stereotypes. Consistently portraying women as eye-candy, exasperated moms, and helpless damsels in distress does nothing to make today’s women want to buy your products. Making sure to have gender-diversity throughout the company will help combat poor decisions regarding the female consumer.

.  As women continue to break down traditional barriers, their influence is more powerful than ever. It’s time for companies to address the needs of their largest, and perhaps most overlooked customers: women.

Interested in learning more about female spending power? Check out the article in the Harvard Business Review that inspired this post.

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