Market Focus: Women

A woman is a complex individual - not just to the majority of the male population, but especially to any advertiser with a female target as part of its marketing plan. Throughout the years, women's roles in society have continuously evolved, keeping marketers on their toes when it comes to formulating strategies on the best way to reach them.

A woman's importance to advertisers is a matter not solely of what she herself purchases, but of the influence she has on what others around her purchase. Not only does she buy for herself, she also shops for her husband, her children, her parents, her neighbors, and her friends. In fact, statistics show that women influence the buying decisions for over 85 percent of all goods and services and are ever loyal to those brands they have come to trust. Women demand respect from marketers, and if they don't get it, they'll take their hard-earned dollars elsewhere.

This consistent brand loyalty serves a real purpose when it comes to making buying decisions on a day-to-day basis. "More and more women are finding out that they truly can't do it all...and that's OK," explains Rick Haskins, executive vice president and general manager of Lifetime Entertainment Services. "No matter where they are or what they are doing, just seeing a particular brand name can serve as a true shortcut for the busy woman."

The Stats Census statistics show that women made up 50.9 percent of the U.S. population in the year 2000, compared with 51.3 percent in 1990. At the state level, females outnumbered men everywhere except Alaska, Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming, Hawaii, Idaho, and Utah.

Professional women are by far the United States' fastest-growing market. In fact, of the 66 million working women in America, over half are professionals with disposable income, with many married women now making more than their husbands. Women also own 49 percent of American businesses operating in the United States, generating trillions in annual sales, according to the Census Bureau. Such powerful statistics tell marketers that the female consumer is a force to be reckoned with.

The Vendors Virtually every medium is sure to be watched and listened to by some portion of the female population. Whether watching TV, listening to the radio, or surfing the 'Net, females encounter a multitude of advertising messages every day. Yet the demands on their time are many, so women are very particular about the messages that they will pay attention to. "The female is a very deliberate decision-maker, so I advise advertisers to attempt to reach her in every single way possible," says Mary Lou Quinlan, founder and CEO of Just Ask a Woman, a strategic marketing group. Serving over 85 million households nationwide, Lifetime Television has long been a virtual no-brainer for any broadcast media buyer attempting to reach the female demo. Lifetime actively extends its television brand into print, online, and a great number of advocacy efforts throughout the United States.

In recent years, both the Oxygen and WE networks have established themselves as gateways to reach women via the cable marketplace. "In terms of market competition, I think the majority of cable networks are competing for the female target in one way or another," adds Lifetime's Haskins. Marketing sponsors such as Johnson & Johnson, Ford, General Motors, and Kodak have seen much success on Lifetime's recently revamped website.

Conde Nast's Glamour magazine has also seen the advantages of a strong brand in this particular marketplace. Celebrating its 65th anniversary this year, Glamour currently enjoys a total circulation of over 2.2 million, outselling 98 percent of the consumer magazines on the newsstand. In recent years, strong bonds between the online and offline brands have made an instant connection with the female consumer. "Advertisers are demanding co-branding opportunities," said Suzanne M. Grimes, vice president and publisher of Glamour magazine. "Ten years ago, it was icing on the cake. Now every savvy marketer expects it."

The Marketplace One analyst has been noted as saying, "The media's interest in attracting women as readers or viewers stems from their perceived commercial view as customers." Indeed, every year billions of dollars of advertising are placed in countless different media to entice the female consumer.

Besides being brand loyal, women are also loyal to the television programs, radio shows, magazines, and websites that they have come to trust. Nielsen ratings show that each week prime-time programs such as CBS's "Crime Scene Investigation;" NBC's "Law & Order," "Friends," and "Will and Grace"; and Fox's "American Idol" have the highest ratings and draw the largest number of women 25 to 54 years of age.

By far the most intriguing platform to reach the female consumer in recent years has been the Internet. "I am amazed at the increase in online activity by women," says Quinlan, who consults with traditional female brands such as Johnson & Johnson and Este Lauder. "For advertisers, a woman's most actively engaged mind is when she is online." Whether looking up information on her daughter's cold or buying those new shoes she has been eyeing, the woman consumer is spending more time at her computer... and spending more money on the Internet. In her hectic world, online shopping is a natural way to get everything done once the stores close for the night. Specifically, women 35 to 44 represent the most crucial and dominant e-retail force to marketers.

The Outlook The future of the female consumer has never been brighter. Whether you are targeting hip women 18-to-34 or the increasingly important 50+ group, the opportunities for marketers are endless.

Female baby boomers are growing older, yet they are making getting older look better than ever. They are willing to spend big money to make sure their skin is wrinkle-free, their hair is flowing, and their bodies are in the best physical shape. They think of themselves as young and hip, and they now have money to indulge themselves in everything from fancy cars to deluxe family trips.

Young women entering the workplace in droves, with disposable income and the smarts to manage their money. MBA programs, law schools, and medical schools are each reporting close to even gender representation. Many analysts predict that the finance category will soon take greater steps to reach the female segment. "I really think the finance category will begin to take notice of the younger women with money," remarks Beth Brenner, vice president and publisher of Self magazine. "It's all about targeting the next generation."

Next story loading loading..