Whoever first said “The future is female” apparently wasn’t looking hard enough at “the present” — at least not when it comes to consumer spending.
The data clearly demonstrates that women drive the world economy. Consider that:
- In the United States, women make or strongly influence about 80 percent of all consumer product sales.
- 89% of women across the world reported controlling or sharing daily shopping needs, compared to only 41% of men.
- 94% of women between the ages of 15 and 35 spend over an hour per day shopping online.
Smart decision makers are leaning into that knowledge and constantly evaluating whether their business is reaching female customers with the right message, at the right time, in the right place.
When companies fail to speak to women, they miss incredible opportunities to reach the market’s dominant buying power. It’s a problem that can be solved, but first it needs to be recognized and owned.
The Ugly Snugli Lesson
In her book “Why She Buys: The New Strategy for Reaching the World’s Most Powerful Consumers,” marketing expert Bridget Brennan says gender is the strongest determinant of how a person views the world — more even than age, income, race or geography. Women’s influence is so dominant that some companies, such as Procter & Gamble, have simply started referring to consumers with the pronoun “she.”
Brennan tells the illustrative story of the “ugly Snugli,” and how the Evenflo Company came to her firm for help because it was losing sales of its soft baby carrier to European brands charging double or triple the price. The Snugli was “the safest possible baby carrier” and practical, too, with pockets, places for keys, and adjustable back straps. But, sitting on the table before her, it looked like a bulky lump of brown cloth that no amount of PR would help, because no postpartum woman would want to wear it.
Brennan and her team partnered with a fashion designer to repackage the Snugli into something sleek, then sent the new model off to celebrity moms. Pictures of the product being worn by actresses Courteney Cox and Cate Blanchet started popping up in magazines, and Oprah Winfrey selected it as a giveaway during her “World’s Largest Baby Shower” episode.
You can imagine the results. Not only did sales skyrocket, but Evenflo permanently changed the way it markets to women. The company now employs women brand managers and engineers, and follows mommy blogs to stay in tune with their customers’ needs and opinions.
Engaging Women to Reach Women
It’s hard to know what you don’t know, of course. There are numerous excellent reasons to elevate more women into leadership roles within your company, but ensuring you have an unfiltered, internal female point of view on your products and services is among the best of them.
A diverse and inclusive team is critical to success. Women drive the majority of consumer spending, but our voice is not always heard or understood in product design, marketing and R&D. This is changing, but until women are more represented on corporate and executive boards, and supported by venture capital companies, the market will not fully leverage their buying and decision-making power.
CEO and Founder Karen Moore
The Moore Agency is rich in female talent — a key to the successes it secures for clients. The women at Moore range in age but also, significantly, in stages of life. They’re in tune with how women learn about a brand before they buy, how they embrace product recommendations from friends, how they engage with others on social media. In short, they know how to reach women with a message that resonates where she lives.
As an example, our Senior Account Executive Mary Frances Foster has helped us grow relationships with influencers — prolific content-creators who build a strong personal brand and share information about what they purchase and how they consume products. Companies can partner with influencers to share what is essentially a paid testimonial by someone who has a huge audience and influence.
If you’re not using influencers, which are so highly female, you’re behind,” Foster said. “You have to tap into that powerful base of using women to reach women.
Senior Account Executive Mary Frances Foster
Contextualizing Your Efforts
Foster helped develop a powerful influencer campaign for Florida Prepaid Prepaid, the nation’s longest-running prepaid college savings program. A Florida Plan is a major considered purchase — equivalent to that of a car. Foster helped identify influencers who were also Prepaid Plan holders and asked them to share their personal experiences, including what motivated them to buy a Plan and how they found room to save in their monthly budgets.
"Research shows that 55 percent of mothers active on social media platforms said they made a purchase on the recommendation of a friend,” Foster said. “These influencers feel like friends and experts. You’re capturing an authentic third-party testimonial from someone who has a huge audience and influence.”
While gender may be the strongest determinant of identity, it isn’t the only one. Women who stay at home may have different relationships with products and services than women who work. For example, a 41-year-old first-time mother usually exhibits purchasing patterns that more closely align with a 21-year-old new parent, because life stage is a more accurate gauge of spending than age.
“Women as a target audience cannot be painted with a monolithic approach based on gender alone. It takes identifying unique segments and distinct cohorts within the female population to truly understand what it takes to move them to action.”
Senior Vice President Jordan Jacobs
As one example of market segmentation, consider Hispanic women. With its “Mujeres Legendarias de Ford” program, Moore created a program to honor women who distinguish themselves in the areas of sustainability, design, innovation and safety, which are Ford’s brand values. Ford has honored 140 women of distinction across the United States. The women honored become brand ambassadors through the program and engage with traditional media through interview opportunities. In addition, each winner showcases her efforts throughout the year on her social channels, elevating the Ford brand at a local level.
“This ceremony generates significant goodwill among influential audiences, builds an authentic group of Latina brand ambassadorship and is recognized in media across the country. The success of this program, along with our other work, has allowed us to maintain the number one share of voice among U.S.-based Hispanic media.”
Associate Director Steph Conti
Promote Women to Win
Research shows that women-led companies reap consistent and concrete benefits. Peakon, a human resources platform that converts feedback into actionable insights, has produced consistent research showing that women-led companies appear better at meeting overall job satisfaction. These companies do better at inspiring belief in their products or services, leading to more overall employee engagement. And their employees express more positivity about their organization's corporate strategy and mission.
We are a living example of that at The Moore Agency, which Inc. 5000 has consistently placed on its list of Best Places to Work. And with a continued focus on corporate culture, talent acquisition and talent development, Moore has garnered an impressive 92% employee retention rate.
“I’m so proud to have founded a gender-diverse company that amplifies all team members’ voices,” said Karen Moore. “It has fostered communication, improved our work-life balance, strengthened our identity as a team and helped us to reach new levels of success for all of our clients.”
When you engage with an agency like Moore, the experience will first hold a mirror to your product and your approach and then help you refine and market your image. And when you elevate voices—both female and male—within your company, you'll reap the benefits of a more effective, efficient and happier team —and you’ll have a better glimpse into the habits and hearts of the female consumer.