The inherent differences between men and women have been a subject of psychology, marketing and some cheap laughs in movies and stand up comedy shows. It still is a complete shame that women, especially housewives, are not targetted that often in marketing campaigns, which also denotes that not many products or services are developed for housewives.
But all women, including housewives, have a strong influence on the promotion and underlying acceptance of all products – especially in the digital age. Rena Bartos, in her book “Marketing to Women Around the World”, describes the segmentation of the female market: stay-at-home housewife, plan-to-work housewife, working women with a job, or career woman. To put it simply, the world of women revolves around family and work. The dilemma they often face is either to choose one alternative or to balance between family and career. But being more suited to multitasking, women are inherently better managers when it comes to complex, multi-faced assignments at home, at work, or both.
For any product or a service, there are three roles that women play. First and foremost, they are “information collectors”. According to Martha Barletta, a women’s decision-making process, by-in-large, differs from a man’s. Whereas a man’s path-to-purchase is short and straightforward, a women’s path resembles that of a spiral, often going back to previous steps to collect new information and to reassess whether moving to the next level is the right choice. Women typically spend hours in stores reviewing quality and comparing prices as well as hours researching online, while men usually limit their search and go after what they want as soon as possible.
Not only do women research more, but they also converse more about products, services, and brands. They seek out the opinions of their friends and family, and they are open to receiving assistance from others. While men just want to get things done, women want to find the perfect product, the perfect service, or the perfect solution.
For people who are in charge of developing products and services that cater to women, the information-collecting nature of women has its benefits. It means that all marketing communications and customer education efforts are not a waste. Women pay attention close to all the information, and they will eventually summarise it for others. This result is good news for any product manager because, in the end, a sale is about the transfer of enthusiasm.
Secondly, women are holistic shoppers. The fact that they experience more touch points in their spiral path-to-purchase means that they are exposed to more factors for consideration. They are more likely to consider everything – functional benefits, emotional benefits, prices, and the likes – before determining the actual value of products and services. For certain household categories, women consider products value not only to themselves but to their entire family.
Women also explore more brands, including less popular brands that they believe might have some value. Because of this, women are more confident about their choice when they finally buy. Thus, they are more loyal and more inclined to recommend their choice to their friends and community.
Women are, de facto, household managers. It wouldn’t be wrong to state that they deserve the title of the Chief Financial Officer, purchasing manager, and asset manager of the family. Not only are they the gatekeepers for most household products, including big-ticket items, women are also the influencers for other products such as investment and financial services.
A Pew Research centre report in 2008 revealed that in 41% of U.S. homes, women were the ones calling the shots whereas, in only 26% of the homes, men were more dominant (in the remainder of the households, they equally split decision making). In Indonesia, the picture is even more striking. Based on a survey on MarkPlus Insight in 2015, about 74% of Indonesian women managed all the family finances – controlling even the income of their spouses, – although only 51% of them are working.
It turns out that the role women play at home is spreading to the workplace. In 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that women account for 41% of the employees who have the authority to make purchasing decisions for their employers in the United States – a number I feel will only go up.
The influence of women at home and at work is growing. As information collectors, holistic shoppers, and household managers, women are the key to win the market share in the digital economy. To access even biggers markets, brands will need to get past women’s comprehensive decision-making process.