In the marketplace, she dominates day-to-day spending, and shares responsibility for big ticket purchases. She brings a tremendous openness to new brands across categories, even when she is relatively satisfied with her existing choices. Her marketplace frustrations lie, not so much with the products or services she uses, but placing the onus on brands to create simple, consistent and compelling product offerings and communications.
Throughout the study generational differences are profound:
In the marketplace, she perceives herself controlling day-to-day spending, with three-fourths or more feeling responsible for household purchases, while she considers big-ticket purchases to be a joint responsibility. He perceives the division of labor differently, seeing day-to-day decisions as jointly made, and big-ticket decisions as largely his. Much of the disconnect lies in differing definitions of “responsibility.” Women likely make the vast majority of day-to-day purchase decisions, while men tend to express occasional preferences and offer cursory input – men consider this “shared” responsibility, while women feel the weight of these responsibilities.
The disparity in spousal perceptions of responsibility is particularly dramatic for financial decisions. Two-thirds of married/partnered women feel financial decisions are jointly made, with another 25% feeling primary ownership. Most married/partnered men, however, consider themselves primarily responsible, and only 3% consider their wives to be responsible. This same pattern of differing perceptions holds true among Gen Y women and men, and extends to perceptions of responsibility for large purchases.
Responsibility for Financial Decisions (among married/partnered)
What women say
What men say
Source: Ipsos MediaCT, July 2013
A male perspective on ‘joint’ decision-making, says the report, “When there's an important decision to be made, my wife and I sit down and calmly discuss it together, weighing the pros and cons, expressing our opinions, and generally being equal partners in the decision. Then I do whatever she tells me to do.”
The Bottom Line (according to the report): Finances stand at the intersection of women, power and money, and in many respects remain the last great bastion of gender inequality. Still, messages that reference differing perceptions, but eventual agreement, on household decisions will likely resonate with both genders.
Since The Great Recession, value and price have been dominant marketplace themes, across categories and genders. Still, women generally lead in both price- and value-orientation, particularly in home-related categories. Only in financial services are men significantly more price focused. Despite constrained spending, satisfaction with products and services is relatively widespread.
Purchase Considerations (% of Respondents Agreeing)
I would prefer to spend money on experiences rather than things
Financially, I am worse off now than I was before the recession started
I usually buy the brands I grew up with
In many categories, I prefer to buy luxury brands
I take pride in making smart purchase decisions
I am a smarter shopper than ever before
Good value for the money is more important than price
I usually wait for something to go on sale before I buy
Extremely/Very Important To Get The Lowest Prices
Personal care items/toiletries
Fashion apparel and accessories
Watches or jewelry
Household furnishings and decor
Beauty/personal grooming items
Source: Ipsos MediaCT, July 2013
The Bottom Line (according to the report): Messages of value and low price will resonate across genders and generations. Still, there are subtleties by gender. Women are particularly value-oriented, with a preference for experiences and an openess to brands; men are less price focused, with a preference for products, familiar “comfort” brands, and an openness to re-engage the luxury marketplace.
Brands remain crucially important in today’s marketplace. Only 32% of women agree, “All brands are pretty much the same,” a figure that drops to 26% among Boomer women (but rises to 37% among men, and 49% among Gen Y men). When asked about factors (besides price) shaping product choice, issues of brand rose to the top, across genders and generations. Reliability and trust are particularly important, along with customer service. Women, particularly Boomer women, are more likely to make marketplace choices based on “values” or “corporate social responsibility” considerations. Gen Y women skew higher only in their interest in rewards and loyalty programs (they may consider “green” and other principle-based factors a given). Men are more likely to be swayed by brands known for innovation.
Extremely/Very Important When Choosing Brands (Aside From Price)
Is a reliable brand
Is a trusted brand
Has excellent customer service
Treats employees fairly
Is made in America
Is an American brand
Rewards/customer loyalty programs
Is environmentally friendly
Gives back to or supports the local community
Is known for innovation
Is affiliated with a charity or cause
Source: Ipsos MediaCT, July 2013
The Bottom Line (according to the report): In today’s marketplace, reliable and “solid” brands have tremendous appeal, across genders and generations, suggesting the appeal of “selling the steak, not the sizzle.” Additional (secondary) layers of messaging can provide more targeted appeals, such as values-focused approaches for Boomer women and innovation-related messages for men.
While brand considerations are crucial in the buying process, and solid brands are highly valued, there is nevertheless considerable openness to brands. Across each of the 12 categories, most women describe themselves as “open to a variety of brands,” and a minority describe themselves “loyal to certain brands.” On average, only 29% of women in a category express loyalty (significantly below men’s 37%). Although brand openness is the general rule across segments, generational and life-stage patterns are apparent as well.
The bottom line: There are obviously opportunities for new brands, provided they are “solid” and their messaging can cut through and differentiate amid option/message overwhelm. While the door is not closed to existing brands, they clearly cannot “rest on their laurels” – they must continue to communicate and deliver solid benefits.
As with any segment profile, including generational ones, it should be remembered that the skews presented reflect generalizations and tendencies that do not apply to every member of the segment. Perhaps most remarkable are the commonalities among these Hispanic and African-American women, which are apparent despite their diverse definitions and varying preconceptions many have about each
Hispanic women are strongly distinguished by regional skews, with 53% living in the West (essentially double that of women in general), and to a lesser extent her relative youth (median age 38 vs. 44). She is, on average, slightly happier than her peers, and at home she has particularly strong ties with her family, children and spouse (and is more concerned about issues of family safety). In the marketplace, she is particularly value-oriented, interested in reward programs and eco-friendly brands. She is very comfortable with technology and exhibits a strong luxury interest, particularly in categories of technology and apparel. She is extremely open to new brands, chiefly automotive brands.
African-American women skew younger (median age 42) and are more likely to live in the South (63%, vs. 36% in total). She is, on average, less satisfied with her spouse and home life, but more satisfied with her friends and physical/emotional health. She considers herself smart and is most likely to perceive women as leaders in the home, in education and making smart purchase decisions. She skews lower income relative to the national population of women, but is far more likely to agree, “I am better off financially than most of my friends and family.” And despite skewing price-focused, she is predominantly loyal to brands and has a wide range of luxury interests. She also has an interest in brands with a reputation for innovation or with community- and cause-related connections.
Affluent Women defined as those with household incomes of at least $100,000. Nationally, affluent Americans account for 20 to 25% of the population, but hold nearly 70% of privately held net worth, making them tremendously important to marketers. Demographically, affluent women skew married (80%), college educated (80%), suburban (75%) and employed (72%). She skews slightly more Boomer, but doesn’t particularly show the attitudinal skews characteristic of Boomers or Gen Y women.
Despite higher income, affluent women are as just as value-oriented, and only slightly less price-sensitive than women in general. Still, she expresses a preference for higher end brands in technology and in the grocery store. She is relatively loyal to tech brands, but this tendency toward brand loyalty does not extend to other categories. In making decisions, she values expert opinions and innovation.
The Bottom Line (according to the report): The emergence of a globally-coherent Gen Y generation and corresponding marketplace creates profound opportunities. However, brands and messages must appeal to the unique interests and preferences of a generation that has grown up with a truly unprecedented confluence of new media and new influences.
This white paper focuses primarily on U.S. women, and unless otherwise noted, data is from U.S. women. Note also that generations are defined as: Gen Y, age 21-34; Gen X, 35-49; Boomers, 50-69
To access the complete report in PDF format, with charts and graphs, please visit Ipsos here.