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Financial clout of women, big business for smart marketers

Financial clout of women, big business for smart marketers

Women have unique priorities when it comes to spending money; marketers are keen to get in touch with the feminine side of it all

June 9, 2010 3:19 by

In Beirut, my attempts to speak Arabic are often met with amusement and it’s not uncommon for people I meet to ask me about my “descent” – a way of asking what my ethnic or cultural lineage is. The truth is, I am often tempted to say that I descend from accountants. It is both a curse and a (mixed) blessing, and it manages to inform most of my decisions – as well as determine what I receive for birthday presents. This year, my birthday gift arrived early – coinciding with the launch date of the book, “Influence: How women’s soaring economic power will transform our world for the better.”  The book looks at the different decision making patterns that women exhibit, and the transformational possibilities that this presents for the global community.

Indeed, the share of the world’s capital that is controlled by women is skyrocketing, and their influence as decision makers in the marketplace carries more economic clout than ever before – a fact that is of increasing significance to marketers. Harvard business school professor, Rosabeth Kanter said “the biggest demographic change of our times [is] the emergence of women as an economic force.”

While academics often have their heads in the clouds, thinking in the abstract, marketers tend to be the ones who get paid to produce results. And they know what’s happening on the ground. And what’s happening on the ground is mind boggling – to the tune of trillions of dollars globally. Analysts expect that by 2014, about $15 trillion worth of global consumer spending decisions will be made by women, with women controlling nearly three quarters of all shopping decisions.

Let’s consider that: For every dollar circulating in the marketplace, 70 cents of it is in the hand of a woman, who is considering her own personal needs and values – and that of her family and community – before she spends it. Clearly, the biggest task for marketers is to understand those very needs and values that inform her decision making process, in order to better position their products to compete for her money.

This was the mission of the GMR Marketing to Women Conference, held earlier this week in Dubai. The sellout event convened marketing professionals from around the region, strategizing to get a slice of a $383 billion pie – the amount of regional wealth that will be controlled by women within the next year.  Moreover, a whopping 40 percent of private wealth in Saudi Arabia is controlled by women – of enormous importance to the regional financial services industry, and not overlooked by the banking sector. Women in the “bankable age bracket” represent nearly half of the total female population, according to one banking expert at the conference, who added that these women overwhelmingly prefer Islamic financial instruments.

Perfect timing, as a new Abu Dhabi investment bank sets up shop to target the region’s wealthy women, Reuters reported Monday. Staffed with female senior staff, Al Bashayer Investment Company will offer a full range of investment banking, corporate advisory, and wealth management services.

“Very few services are given to women in the field of investments here. Women will be our focus clients,” chairwoman Fatima Al Jaber told reporters on Monday. “We want to create women’s wealth.”

Good news travels fast, it seems.

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