The size of the female economy – sometimes referred to as the ‘Sheconomy’ – is staggering. Women now represent a growth market that is twice the size of China and India combined. It is believed that women are now the single largest productive economic force and drive almost every economic indicator for businesses. Recognised as the largest disruptive force in business, more and more businesses are creating products and services that are designed to meet the actual needs of women, making the ‘shrinking and pinking’ strategy a thing of the past. Let’s unpack the female economy.
Women as investors
Although women are often more nervous about investing than men, several studies suggest that they make better long-term investors. In general, women tend to trade less than men do, and exhibit less over-confidence. They also tend to do more research and analysis, and hold their investments for longer – which is essential for successful long-term investing. Sadly, the majority of women attest to feeling patronised and under-served by the financial services industry. In a recent survey, women cited lack of respect, poor advice, contradictory policies and red tape as obstacles when dealing with financial institutions. Because of the significant gender pay gap which still exists globally, many women remain underfunded for their retirement. In a recent 10X report., 32% of South African women felt uncertain of their retirement plan
Women and healthcare
As mothers and carers, it is not surprising that women influence 90% of all healthcare decisions including choice of service providers, choice of medical facilities, treatment options and medication. Women make 93% of all over-the-counter medicines purchases. A National Marketing Institute found that women access the internet, more than their family doctor, as their primary source for healthcare information.
Women as consumers
As consumers, women are undeniably influential. They drive 80% of all consumer purchasing through a combination of buying power and influence. 74.9% of women identify themselves as the primary shoppers for their households. As the dominant primary caregiver for children and the elderly, women tend to buy for themselves, partners, children, aged parents and extended family, and because of this they hold a multiplier effect. In the US, women purchase 50% of traditional male products including automobiles, home improvement products and consumer electronics
Women as online shoppers
Juggling their roles as mothers, employees, partners and carers, most women attest to being time-poor which is probably why women dominate the online shopping space. In South Africa, women make up 55% of all visitors to online shopping sites, with women between the ages of 25 and 29 being the most active users, and women over 50 being the fastest growing demographic online. Research shows that women are also more active on social media and are more likely to review products, share content and pass along deals to other women. Experts agree: when women find a brand that meets their needs, their online marketing power is enormous.
Women as earners
2017 statistics show that women in South Africa earn 27% less than their male counterparts, with this gap being even wider among top earners – with men earning as much as 39% more than women at a similar level. This has a significant impact on households and communities as research shows that when women earn, they re-invest 90% of their income in their families. The gender pay gap goes a long to explaining why so many women are under-funded for retirement. Being child-bearers, women also face the additional challenge of having their earnings interrupted during their child-bearing years.
Women as entrepreneurs
According to UNESCO Global Education Digest, women own about one-third of all business worldwide, and nearly half these business are in developing markets. Every year, more women across the globe are participating in the workforce and are earning more at work. Women have outnumbered men in worldwide university enrollments and graduation since 2009, which translates to an educated, increasingly powerful, growing segment of the economy.
More and more companies are realising the enormous power and influence of the female economy and have started designing products that cater for the unique needs of women. Juggling motherhood, holding down careers and managing households means the female consumer is time-strapped, convenience-hungry and thirsty for solutions. While it’s important not to stereotype women, there are common threads in the hearts and minds of the female consumer that have led to the formidable rise of the ‘Sheconomy’. This may well be a case of ‘while the right hand rocks the cradle, the left hand rules the world’.
Have a fabulous Tuesday!