Three Essential Stats for Marketing to Women

Quick, when was the last time you visited the website for the U.S. Census Bureau?  How about the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics site?  Bonus points if you’ve stamped your passport (euphemistically speaking) over at the United Nations website recently.

These and other government, civic and not-for-profit organizations provide an important and often overlooked source of demographic information for marketers.  The stats they provide can serve as a meaningful anchor in a sea of fast-moving marketing trends.  Here are three statistics, and the sources behind them, that are important for marketers to pay attention to right now:

Stat #1: 70% of women with children age 18 and under participate in the U.S. labor force. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

What this means to you: Every time a woman takes a job outside the home, her spending patterns are altered.  Not only does she increase her household income, she wears different clothes, eats different foods, travels a different direction on the roadways, involves different people in caring for her children and has a different relationship with money. How does this change the way you capture women’s attention? How does this impact the way you innovate?

Consider Fitbit.  The company has achieved success in a crowded industry by helping time-compressed people track their physical activity while on the move. Sleek form factors like Fitbit Flex wristbands are now available with designer accessories from Tory Burch, which gives them a style aspect that is especially workplace-friendly for women.  How can you take your own product to the next level and provide this kind of “triple crown” mix of usefulness, convenience and style for women who are balancing two jobs: one inside the home and one outside the home?

Stat #2: 40% of all U.S. households with children under 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family. (Source: Pew Research)

What this means to you:  This stat made headlines when it was released, but how deeply have you studied what it means to your business?  Attitude shifts have emerged around earning and spending.  For instance, products and services that were once considered luxuries are now often viewed as necessities.  The attitude is, “I work hard, I need to be at my best and I’ve earned nice things.”

From hotel programs with women-centric amenities for business travelers (see Kimpton and Hyatt) to the resurgence of direct selling firms that enable women to perform double-duty by seeing friends while they shop, there is an enormous opportunity to study the needs of bread-winning women.   Working women will often say they need services, not just products.  What kind of complementary service could you build around the products you offer?

Stat #3: The average wages of 22-30 year-old single, childless women are higher than same age men in many of the largest U.S. metropolitan cities. (Source: Reach Advisors study citing U.S. Census data, reported in the Wall Street Journal)

What this means to you:  This stat was another headline maker, and it’s taking some time for its implications to be seen in marketing.   All over the world, women are getting married later in life. Many young women have the kind of disposable income that their mothers and grandmothers could not have imagined at the same age.  This is driven in large part by higher education: in the U.S., women earn 57% of bachelor degrees, as well as the majority of master’s and doctoral degrees, and many are working for several years before considering marriage.  These single, young women are often buying consumer goods that were once primarily the domain of married couples.

This creates a new urgency for marketers to showcase a broad representation of women in marketing materials, and not only women in the married-with-children life stage.  For inspiration, take a look at the way IKEA showcases a variety of female-friendly imagery and copy in its marketing materials.  Then take an inventory of your own images: are they up to date in how they depict today’s younger women consumers?