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Markets: Women Rule
New York: March 01, 2004
By John R. Stephenson

Looking to add a little more oomph to your business. How about redirecting your efforts toward women consumers. According to Martha Barletta, author of Marketing to Women , 91 percent of women survey respondents believe that advertisers don't understand women and 58% of women are outright annoyed with advertisers. This is particularly shocking when you consider the following statistics about consumption by women in the US:

•  Women account for 83% of all consumer purchases

•  They hold the purse strings to 89% of all bank accounts

•  Women account for 89% of all the spending on health care in the US

•  94% of the dollars spent on home furnishing are spent by women

•  They make the purchasing decision in 91% of the cases on home buying

•  They buy 60% of the cars in this country and are influencers to the purchasing decision 90% of the time

•  Women make the purchasing decision on vacations 91% of the time including 70% of the time for adventure travel vacations.

Not only do women buy virtually everything, but also they tend to have innate skills that may make them better at business in a modern interconnected world. In a world that is increasingly interconnected and knowledge dependent, women's collaborative leadership style may trump men's top-down decision-making style. Not only do women have natural talents for collaborative work that is now and will increasingly be important in the future but they also approach purchasing in a vastly different way than men. As a general rule, men just want the transaction to take place whereas women are interested in creating relationships. Wherever women go, they try and establish connections.

Everywhere you look, the business model that has been designed by men runs up against the natural bias of their best customers. Just think of all of the businesses, whether they are consumer electronics stores or Jiffy Lube stations that have been designed by men around a male model - fast and to the point, that could benefit from a business redesign. In her book, How to Sell to the Opposite Sex , Judith Tingley reports that in general women view male salespeople as "technically knowledgeable; assertive; get to the point; pushy; condescending; insensitive to women's needs." Sound like a recipe for success? Hardly. If your best customers (i.e. all of your customers) are women, doesn't it make sense to at least try and incorporate their perspective into the design and delivery of your product? Consider the shopping mall. Designed and built by architects, developers, engineers and bankers all over-whelming male. The end-user of the product - overwhelmingly women.

Not only do women appear to have natural network talents that may make them better equipped for the business challenges of the twenty first century, but their more patient collaborative style may make them better at many pursuits traditionally attributed to men. For example, investing. Men tend to shoot from the hip and overtrade their accounts - generally believing they are smarter than the market. Consider the results. In a 1997 study by the National Association of Investors the following returns for investment clubs was documented:

•  Women-only clubs - average club return: 17.9%

•  Mixed (men and women) clubs - average club return: 17.3%

•  Men-only clubs - average club return: 15.6%

In a world that is increasingly competitive, does it make sense to ignore, or even alienate your best customers? Of course not. But many businesses are blindly going about business as usual. If your business is not going gangbusters, perhaps it is time to take a look at the way you deliver value to your best customers.

StephensonFiles is a division of Stephenson & Company Inc. an investment research and asset management firm which publishes research reports and commentary from time to time on securities and trends in the marketplace. The opinions and information contained herein are based upon sources which we believe to be reliable, but Stephenson & Company makes no representation as to their timeliness, accuracy or completeness. Mr. Stephenson writes a regular commentary on the markets and individual securities and the opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. This report is not an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security. Nothing in this article constitutes individual investment, legal or tax advice. Investments involve risk and an investor may incur profits and losses. We, our affiliates, and any officer, director or stockholder or any member of their families may have a position in and may from time to time purchase or sell any securities discussed in our articles. At the time of writing this article, Mr. Stephenson may or may not have had an investment position in the securities mentioned in this article
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