THE BLOG
09/09/2014 03:00 pm ET Updated Nov 09, 2014

The Changing Face of Women Consumers... and What This Means for Marketing

About a month ago, McKinsey released a report from its September 1966 archives called "The Changing Face of Marketing". The first section called "The Dominance of the Customer" really caught my attention. Some of the headlines of this section are:

1. The need to anticipate and anticipate future customers.
2. A trend toward product use rather than ownership - as evidenced by, for example, a growing demand for rental cars.
3. Growth in demand for personal services such as recreation, education and travel.
4. A range of demographic changes, the most notable was a growth in the teenage and young adult market, blue collar folk moving to the suburbs, and increases in income. Because of these factors, there is "no such thing as stability of customers."
5. Peoples' tastes becoming more varied, flexible and demanding, such that products need to be developed that people want and are willing to buy.

Remember, John Louth from McKinsey wrote this back in 1966! My guess is that if John were to write on the same topic today, he probably wouldn't change a thing. Sure the examples would be different - e.g., brands such as Airnb and Uber now represent the "use not own" phenomenon and personal services have expanded to include time saving personal services such as dog walking or house cleaning and "treats" such as massage and spa treatment.

Demographic trends would also be different. The demographic trends that interest me the most are changes related to women. The data below is for the US and is data I found when writing my latest book, "Why Marketing to Women Doesn't Work":

• Women now account for just over half of the population.
• Women live longer than men (80 vs. 75 years). 57% of the 65+ age group are women.
• 20% of all households with children under the age of 18 are single parent households headed by a female.
• 29.6% of women aged 25+ and 30.3% of men aged 25+ have completed four years of college.
• 140 women enroll in higher education every year for every 100 men. Women now earn the majority of bachelors, masters and PhDs.
• 58.1% of all women 16+ work. Women represent 47.1% of the total employed workforce.
• Partly because of career choices, women earn about 3/4 of what men earn. There are some exceptions: in 47 of the 50 largest US metro areas, single, childless women in their 20s earn more than their male counterparts; 29% of all married women now earn more than their husbands; and in some professions women and men earn the same.
• Women marry later and delay having children.
• 28.8% of all businesses are women owned. Women are more likely to own their own business to give flexibly as they juggle work and family.
• Achieving work-life balance affects men and women.
• Globally, women control about close to $28 trillion in spending and this continues to rise given advances in education, career opportunities and social and political leadership. In many households purchasing decision is either women-dominant or joint.

There are deficiencies in this data in that it assumes all women are the same and we know that there are significant differences between women. Differences between women aside, the bigger question marketers should be asking is what does the future consumer look like since women now out-learn men and there is growing evidence that pockets of women now out-earn men. Where are you on the "marketing to women spectrum?" Do you know the number of women who influence purchase decisions of your brand? Buy your brand? Use your brand? Are you communicating effectively with women? How does the changing face of women as consumers impact your brand?