Marti Barletta: Big Economic Opportunity in Marketing to Women

Act Now to Tap Into Women's Massive Spending Power

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Are you looking for a leadership initiative that's really going to drive your organization? Are you looking for a new way to steal market share, grow sales and boost profit margins? Of course you are. That's why you get the big bucks. So let me ask you this: What are you doing to tap the No. 1 economic opportunity in America, the largest market segment in the world, the chief purchasing officers of just about everything consumer, corporate or small business? I'm talking about marketing to women.

Marti Barletta is a recognized thought-leader on marketing to women and author of 'PrimeTime Women: How to Win the Hearts, Minds, and Business of Boomer Big Spenders' (January 2007). Her trend-setting book, 'Marketing to Women,' is in its second edition and has been published in more than 15 languages. She is founder-CEO of The TrendSight Group, a think tank specializing in marketing to women.

Here's why.

Women control most of the consumer spending decisions worldwide and, in the U.S., most of the corporate and small-business spending decisions as well. In the consumer sector, women bring in half or more of the income in 55% of U.S households. In 27% of U.S. households, single women are the sole earners, and 30% of working wives earn more than their husbands. Women operate as the "chief purchasing officers" in almost all households, and they are estimated to make 80% of all household buying decisions. This includes leading the decision making in such traditionally male categories as investments, automotive, consumer electronics and home improvement.

In corporations, they constitute 50% of managers and professionals, 58% of purchasing agents, and 53% of wholesale and retail buyers. In addition, as the majority of VPs of administration and human resources, they make most of the decisions on contracts for office equipment, services and supplies, and employee financial and insurance plan providers.

In the small-business arena, women have accounted for 70% of all privately held start-ups over the last 15 years. Tom Peters calls marketing to women "economic opportunity No. 1 ... and there's no close second."

But marketers must act quickly. Indeed, many categories already are jumping on the bandwagon. Even historically male-dominated industries are recognizing the unmistakable growth opportunity of marketing to women.

Some of my recent favorite marketing-to-women advertising examples include a new Toyota Camry print ad that features a head shot of a beautiful female driver and the enticing promise of a "car that puts less miles on you," and an ad for Home Depot featuring a strong, independent do-it-yourself woman with a power drill who clearly knows what's she's doing. The headline reads: "The Preferred Card of Rewards-Demanding Drill Sergeants."

These and other ads are great examples of marketers that are starting to appreciate and tap into women's massive spending power. I'm seeing forays from companies in other categories conventionally considered to be male-driven as well: Philips, Samsung, Sony, Merrill Lynch, Charles Schwab, Wachovia, Apple, Microsoft, Dell and Canadian Tire.

And if these companies are any example, it's not too late to tap into this market: They turned to marketing to women for fresh ideas as recently as one or two years ago.

Unfortunately, I have yet to see the company that has supported its marketing to women effort with the kind of multidimensional integrated marketing program that would be necessary to launch a new product. Which is really strange when you consider first, that women buy the majority of almost everything; and second, that women respond better to female-relevant selling points and creative executions than to the male approaches that have historically dominated all of these categories.

If you are looking for a powerful brand positioning, innovative creative and a successful marketing investment, look no further than the No. 1 economic opportunity in America, marketing to women. Whether your company is an established market leader looking for additional prospect pools or an innovative start-up that thrives on fresh ideas, going after the women's market is a "big idea." Now that you've found your "big idea," it's time to go out there and mix it up in your market, creating and activating a marketing-to-women initiative of your own. When you do, you will take the "big" out of "idea" and put it into your business.
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