Research conducted by The Boston Consulting Group (BCC), including a survey of some 1 5,000 women and 5,000 men In 22 countries, shows that women make over 70% of the purchases of discretionary consumer goods each year and constitute the fastest-growing global market, even egger and faster-growing than the consumer economies of China and India combined. And yet women are not pleased with the offerings in many categories, particularly health care, financial services and durable goods. The majority of businesses are managed by men, most of whom don’t understand female consumers or realize Just what a fundamental role they play In the economy.
Why are these executives so out of touch with such an Important consumer group? There are many reasons: They don’t do enough research with their female consumer base. They don’t know how women learn about new products, investigate them, buy them, use them ND recommend (or reject) them. They don’t have personal experience of the time pressures that women, especially working mothers who have a full-time Job at work and a full-time Job at home, face. Male executives generally collaborate with other men, not women, to develop and design new products, determine pricing and create marketing programs.
Financial services executives, in particular, haven’t often witnessed the “service” that women receive from financial advisers who give most of their attention to the male spouse, even If the female partner has a higher Income or more financial clout. Health-care executives don’t appreciate how frustrating it is for women to take time off from their Jobs to bring a child to the doctor’s office and then be forced to wait for attention. Leaders of consumer durables companies don’t realize that their products don’t always work as promised.
The BCC research shows that there are ten errors men commonly make when creating and marketing products that are most often purchased by women. Men typically: 1 . Ignore the importance of emotional appeal. Senior male executives often rise to their leadership positions through manufacturing, finance, marketing or product velveteen. They are rewarded and recognized for their ability to Identify technical and functional benefits, but they often fall to realize that women buy goods for experience and after? Do they feel wise, savvy, intelligent, cared for?
Men, by contrast, develop habitual purchasing routines and buy most goods for replacement. This is why women’s categories are characterized by ever-shortening fashion cycles while change rolls much more slowly through men’s categories. 2. Cut price to build sales. When business slows, male executives will typically cut prices or create remissions to make up for a drop in sales, but this often has the opposite effect than the one desired. Women think of lower-priced goods and services as second rate and assume that the offered has compromised on quality.
Women are in the market every day, physically and online, and are more aware than men are of changes in offerings and shifts in pricing. 3. Don’t change offerings from year to year. Executives will skimp on product development, making incremental improvements that are intended to bring short-term payback, rather than gain share over the long haul. They engages the product development cycle, making few changes in the product from season to season, and, as a result, have difficulty differentiating their products from those of their competitors and have little news to offer their customers.
Women are far more interested than men in what’s new, better and novel, and want to be delighted by innovation. 4. Make it pink. Male executives who have success with a product aimed at men, and are uncertain of what women really want, will offer a female version of their male-focused product, by making minor changes in size, shape, packaging, color or marketing strategy. But, because the product is not genuinely created to meet women’s needs and challenges, female consumers immediately see through it and reject it. 5. Fail to differentiate.
Unless they research and refine, companies find themselves blind to women’s needs and dissatisfactions. They offer “me too” goods and wonder why they sit on the shelves. 6. Communicate clumsily. Marketing is often based on stereotypes rather than insight into the real problems women face . Sales and/or service delivery frequently fails to directly target segments of women and meet their needs exactly, finely, prescriptively. . Overlook the need for time-saving solutions. According to the BCC research, women identify their main challenge as how to manage time and create balance in their lives.
Although men are gradually taking more responsibility at home, women still shoulder the majority of household and childcare tasks. They have, in effect, a Job at work and a Job at home, so they are constantly making choices and trade-offs and look for product and service solutions that help them make the most of their precious time. Although many products are marketed with the claims that they are designed to save mime, bundle tasks and make life easier, few of them actually deliver on those promises. 8. Ignore the importance of community.
A sense of community and empathy is lacking from most male-developed products and services. Personal connection and credibility are critically important to key service categories. One satisfied female customer will bring another nine or ten into the fold. Women spend as much time on the Internet now as they do watching television, and, unlike men, much of that time is given over to networking and connecting with others. 9. Forget design aesthetics. Women love color, but men tend to use a black and white palette.
Women see every product purchase as a chance for adventure, learning and a way to bring excitement and flair into their lives. In most categories, men are focused on time, women place love as the most important aspect of their lives. Married women with children especially have the least time to express their love and, as a result, seek goods and services that let them say “l love you” with care, specificity and empathy. Male executives can no longer afford to ignore the female economy. It is growing faster than the consumer economies of China or India, and is the biggest force for lobar growth on the horizon.
The winning companies will be the ones that recognize this phenomenon before their competitors. They will: Size and segment the market Invest substantial research resources against a detailed market map Create a list of current and emerging female dissatisfactions and prioritize the ones they will address. Aggressively respond with a first salvo of response. The companies that will best serve, and most benefit from, the female economy are the ones that are willing to roll up their sleeves and learn about their female customers hopes, dreams and wishes.