Mission Critical - Marketing to Women



Authors: Pradip Sinha & Prashant Banerjee,
Associate Consultant, Associate Consultant,
ICMR (IBS Center for Management Research).

The article explains why companies need to focus their marketing strategy on the `women' customers, and how it has become a necessity to retain their loyalty in order to have a competitive edge in this fast changing business scenario.

"Women currently make or influence up to 85% of all consumer purchases, so isn't it time you started marketing to them? Marketing to women is no longer just mere window dressing to comply with political correctness. It is a necessary element to be successful in today's marketplace."

- Delia Passi Smalter,founder of Medelia Communications, an Irvington, New York, company that develops programs specifically to sell to women.

Why do you think consumers are always referred to as she? Gone are the days when companies used to sell their products by targeting the men with their age old strategies. The era of 'Men' is over, giving way to the 'Women' of the 21st century. Today's most lucrative customers are women, and if companies want to retain and sustain their market position they have to target them and make them happy.

The Need

Today, women account for or are responsible directly or indirectly for buying approximately 80% of the consumer products. "Women make or influence the bulk (80% or more) of companies' consumer purchase in today's hyper-competitive world. So a company that thinks its core market is 99% male might be surprised at how much influence the women in their lives have on purchase," says Andrea Learned, co-founder of the reach woman website and co-author of the book, Don't Think Pink : What Really Makes Women Buy - and How to Increase Your Share of This Crucial Market.

Women present a huge marketing opportunity to corporate manufacturers or service providers, either in the traditional brick and mortar setup or in the online click mode. According to Media Metrix (the leading internet audience measurement service provider), about 55% web users are women. Women have become the majority of web users and do the most on-line shopping in the US and the trend is increasing all over the world. Women also buy or influence 50% of all PCs.

According to a research conducted by BusinessWeek and Gallup, by 2010, women are expected to control 1 trillion or 60% of the total wealth of the US. Further, according to Packaged Foods, a division of market research.com, the single women's market is likely to approach $200 bn by 2016. Prof. Jadish N Sheth, Charles H Kellstadt Professor of Marketing, Goizueta Business School Emory University, USA also feels that, "as more and more women enter the workforce, especially at the managerial level, they are becoming the decision makers and not just providing the support role which they performed historically". He adds, "Women are becoming decision makers at an ever-increasing younger age. Today's teenage girls are becoming independent decision makers especially in educated families. This goes for choices with respect to education, career and choosing even spouses in addition to selecting products and services".

Statistics in Asian countries and particularly in India are not very different from the above stated scenario. In India, the working women population has risen from a mere 13% in 1987 to more than 30% in 2003. This is a significant growth. According to a recent research by the ACNielson ORG-Marg team, working women account for 15% of the total urban population of 150 million. All the above mentioned facts and figures clearly prove that there is a growing need for today's organizations to market to women. The question is how?

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