CEO confronts gender in global consumer economy

Author: Meghan Sullivan

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The Mendoza College of Business and the University’s gender studies program hosted Bridget Brennan, CEO of Female Factor and author of “Why She Buys,” on Thursday to discuss women’s role in business.

Brennan’s lecture, “Top Trends in Marketing and Selling to Women,” began by explaining the growth trends in the marketplace. She addressed the fact that nations like Brazil, China and India tend to be labeled as the greatest growth markets, but she emphasized that the commonly unmentioned female market is especially large.

“Women are now considered to be one of the world’s largest emerging growth markets because of women’s increased economic participation, educational levels and political participation,” Brennan said.

This increased female presence in the market has resulted in the creation of programs targeting women by major companies, she said. Brennan said companies like Under Armour, Levi’s and Harley-Davidson are developing these types of programs with the hope of increasing their brand by including women.

“Women are the engine of the consumer economy, driving between 70 and 80 percent of all consumer purchases,” she said.

The domination of women in the marketplace can attributed to two factors: buying power and influence, Brennan said. An increased percentage of women with a higher education has increased their earning power and contributes to their buying power, she said.

“Influence means that even when a woman isn’t paying for something with her own money … she is typically the influencer or veto vote behind somebody else’s purchase,” Brennan said.

Additionally, Brennan aimed to counter the stereotypes surrounding women and shopping. As opposed to the misconceptions that women only care about shopping for shoes or handbags, she explained that women’s spending habits serve a greater purpose.

“The reason women are so responsible for consumer spending is because, in virtually every society in the world, women have primary caregiving responsibilities for both children and the elderly — and just about everyone in between,” Brennan said.

Read the entire story on The Observer website.