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Women: Economic Opportunity #1

“What,” you may ask, “is all the fuss about?” Why are companies finally discovering the women’s market? Haven’t women and women of color always been a core consumer audience? Haven’t businesses always focused on women as the primary target for their products and services? Surprisingly, the answer to these questions is a resounding, “No.”

It’s hard to believe, given all of the work that has been done in recent years in the field of marketing to women and given the economic growth and educational attainment of women that there was a time when women were not understood or embraced for the vast power and decision making influence they represent. Yet, sadly, this is true. There are cases where companies have shied away from putting too much emphasis on women or diversity for fear of alienating the “core” or “mainstream” consumer-be that consumer male or Caucasian.

The good news is that times are changing! With more than $3.7 trillion dollars in buying power women are a force to be reckoned with. From automotive (where women influence 85% of all new vehicle decisions), to consumer electronics (women purchase 89% of all electronic products), to pharmaceutical (93% of all OTC products are purchased by women), to banking (89% of decisions concerning where to bank are influenced by women) women are taking the control and are not giving it back. Indeed, after years of work and the concerted effort of subject matter experts, academicians, researchers, and economists, the case has been made: Women are economic opportunity #1. Consider these facts about the women’s market:

Women and Money
Women generate $3.7 trillion dollars in buying power
Women own 40% of all stocks
Women head 40% of all high net worth households
Women aged 24-37 are better prepared for retirement than their male counterparts. They have an average of $410,000 saved for retirement compared to $248,000 for men of the same age group.

Arguably, women are now the most powerful engine of global growth. Where do women of color — Black, Latina, Asian, and Native American women — fit in? Women of color are the “sweet spot” of the women’s market!

With a population of over 54 million–a number that will increase to 63 million by 2020–and with $1 trillion dollars in economic buying power [as much money to spend as the entire gross domestic product of countries such as Spain, Mexico, and Canada] women of color are a global juggernaut. Investing in and investing with women of color makes good business sense. From education, to corporations, to the retail markets, women of color embody determination, a passion to succeed, and the stamina to go the distance. Despite being on the fringes and the long history of alienation from academic institutions, from the inner circle of boardrooms, and from the impenetrable “old boys network”, women of color are taking the lead and doing so in a way that demands attention.

Women of Color
35.2% of the U.S. female population is of non-Anglo descent. By 2050 this number will grow to 50%
From 2000 to 2007, women of color grew +18.7% in population while the non-Hispanic White female population only marginally increased by +1.1%
88% of the absolute growth in U.S. female population from 2000 to 2007 was attributable to women of color.
1 of every 7 adult women of color is an entrepreneur.
Over 500,000 U.S. households are headed by a family of color earning over $200,000 per year
57% of students of color are women; 43% are men of color
Women of color are 11 years younger than non-Hispanic White females. This represents an opportunity to stimulate greater sales among women of color over their lifetime and to tap into the employee talent represented by this highly educated, younger market.

Given the historical challenges of disenfranchisement in the educational sector and in corporate America, these are outstanding results that should be celebrated. Women of color have transcended many institutional roadblocks and continue to do so in a way that commands our respect.

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