Question: What does the increased economic influence of women mean for the economy?
Maddy Dychtwald: One of the great pieces of news that we’ve seen actually manifest itself as we see more women in the workforce, more women taking on positions of leadership, is that there is an actual economic benefit to companies, to countries, to the economy at large. For instance, based on studies that have been done what we’ve noticed is that when Fortune 500 companies have more women in positions of leadership their profitability actually increases. And when we’re talking about board of directors, for Fortune 500 companies in particular, having at least three women on their board of directors sees increased profitability. That is good news. What else do we see? We see in countries, developing countries when they educate their young women and girls they see an increase in GDP, so there is a bottom line return. We see more countries doing that as a result. Again, great news and according to The Economist the number one thing that we have seen actually improve our economy over the last decade has been women in the workforce and not the economy of China or India and not the growth of technology. It’s women in the workforce. This is great news.
Question: How will this change marketing?
Maddy Dychtwald: It comes as no surprise to anyone that women buy things. They always have. in fact, throughout most of history even though women weren’t economically very independent they were generally sort of the chief family and household purchaser of household things, clothing, food, the small items. And the big items like automobiles and financial service products, insurance, real estate, those were considered the sort of decision domain of men and that is just not the case anymore.
In fact, 83% of all consumer purchases today are made by women and women in fact do have a large say, if not the final say, in most large decisions today in terms of the marketplace and marketers tend to forget that. They still tend to think automobiles let me talk to the guy. Real estate let me talk to the guy. Yet using real estate as an example when we’re talking about who buys residential homes right behind married couples is single women, the second largest segment of purchasers of real estate today. Now that is influence. Yet the real estate marketplace, even though there are so many realtors who are women, doesn’t generally do their marketing and their advertising campaigns to women per se. The automobile industry for instance where women buy 62% of all new car purchases they are notorious for doing a horrible job of speaking out to women. If anything, they give just kind of lip service or what we call "pink marketing" to women and that is going to have to change. In fact, we’re seeing the early signs of that changing right now. Electronics, another great example. We used to think of electronics as you know "toys for boys." Not anymore, 55% of all electronic purchases are made for women, so women have a seat at the table. Marketers if they want to hold onto women as these key customers are going to have to try to dig deep, figure out what women really want because most women say they feel very misunderstood by the marketplace.
Recorded on October 12, 2010
Interviewed by John Cookson