The Rising Deciders
There’s more and more talk recently of women superseding men in the workforce as they become increasingly more educated, completing degrees that are more advanced than those of their male counterparts, and thus substantially increasing their rate of pay. Add to this trend that more and more women are opting an independent lifestyle, often prolonging the decision to become married or have children, and you have an interesting new wave of primary purchase deciders on your brands’ hands.
While a recent NY Times article focuses on how this trend has resulted in a shriveling pool of traditional marriage partnerships, the more interesting impact from our perspective is the placement of affluent, independent women as dead center targets for marketers of higher-end products.
As we climb through the rubble of a recession-riddled year and proceed through a hopeful new decade, it will become critical to view this new female target as one who will make the bulk of high-involvement product purchase decisions. The type of products we’re talking about here range from the practical to the luxurious and include houses and condos, vehicles, the gamut of hand held technology, vacations and home entertainment systems.
The most educated woman to date, who is head of her household and who wields a fistful of disposable income above the head of men in the same age bracket of 25-40, will be the bulls eye for brand messaging, but she will also be quite savvy to sales pitches. As with all purchasers of high-involvement products, a huge emphasis must be laid unto customer relationship management, providing ample information and communication from the brand to aid the decision, and continued follow-up and reassurance once the purchase is made.
This trend of affluent female deciders could not have come at a better time as social media has risen to meet this new marketing occasion, providing excellent tools to help consumers research, compare, share their experiences and interact in much more personal ways with brands. This kind of information sharing will become invaluable to marketers of high-involvement brands looking to expand market share. The idea has already been embraced by technology blogs, which have increased exponentially over the past decade.
Consider that there are currently 23 million women in the United States who read, post-to or publish their own blogs on a weekly basis. Then consider that half of these women are already making $75,000 annually or greater.* One simply has to advocate the use of social media outlets, particularly blogs, to speak more directly to this group.
Additionally, the majority of these women are married or co-denizens and 67% have children living at home. These facts translate into a new, possibly primary, breadwinner making choices for her family that go beyond the grocery store. She is equipped with the education, technology and the confidence to champion or dethrone brands through her opinions posted to the online community. Smart brands would engage her in a dialog, right now.
*For more information on the motivations of this powerful new consumer group, we’ve added a link to a great new study released by BlogHer, iVillage and Compass Partners on the subject of women and social media use: http://www.slideshare.net/LisaStone/2009-women-and-social-media-study-by-blogher-ivillage-and-compass-partners