Marketing to the Power of the Purse Consumer
[Series 1: “30 SOMETHINGS”]
“She is a marketing haven for companies and business strategies. From consumer goods to publishing houses, their interests revolve around her. She has been considered the most appealing because she has money to spend and many reasons to spend it on herself and others”
By Justine P. Castellon
Meeting my friend and former editor Prime (a 30-something gal) isn’t about casual discussion on life and work rather a deliberation on targeted consumer that pops in the air. As we talked about her travel blog (www.solofemaletravel.net) targeting specific audience – our age bracket – 30-SOMETHINGS women, we scrutinized why this segment is rushing on the center stage of advertisers. Indeed, they are creating and controlling more money than ever before and they have the ‘power of the purse’. And we both wondered what makes this demographic ultimately appealing? At the back of my mind, why I never thought of this? Yes, it was right under my nose, but it remained invisible to me for years.
In the last couple of months, I spent time with 30-somethings women in different industries and categories. I watched how they move through stores; decide what to buy; how they order food from restaurants to supermarkets; their views on life-work balance; and their financial mindset as well. I also read their daily blog posts, and observed the way they deal with choices.
As promised to Prime, I will introduce this segment to my audience. That’s why you are reading this post and meeting today’s 30-something woman. Well, she’s well-educated, hardworking, fashionable, creative, financially savvy, and advocate of the environment. She works full time and also works on a sideline that relates to her passion (like blogging her way for extra cash, or contributing articles for business sections). She is one of the more empowered consumers who draw from their strength not only from their purse but from knowledge gathered over the years. She is a marketing haven for companies and business strategies. From consumer goods to publishing houses, their interests revolve around her. She has been considered the most appealing because she has money to spend and many reasons to spend it on herself and others.
HER VIEWS ON LIFE & FAMILY.
Resembling the female characters Liz Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love), Meredith Grey (Grey’s Anatomy), and Bridget Jones (Bridget Jones’ Diary) she still struggles with the important issues of life, work and family. Yet, she has an amazing career, a close circle of friends and an enviable social calendar. She lives a life on her own terms, not on someone else’s idea of how her life should unfold. She’s either with a husbands and kids, or self-confessed pragmatist who believes that Prince Charming has either lost his horse or is stuck in traffic somewhere! But, while she awaits his arrival, she managed to build a rather successful career with special mantra that “being single isn’t a sentence, it’s a choice”.
More often, she complains about being sleep deprived and feels that time is her most precious commodity – ahhh, the biter-sweet taste of power in the corporate arena. After her period of freedom in her 20s, when she has more time for further education and travel, at 30s she brings with it more concession. She simply goes “from a long-term mindset of simply considering the future to the more survival-based approach of managing the present”. She resolves urgent problem and make choices by doing most things to a level of satisfaction she wouldn’t have accepted in her 20’s. Yes, she’s emotional but cautious.
While the central question about marketing to this 30-something woman has shifted from ‘Why?’ to ‘How?’, we (marketers) still need more solid ground about the potential value of better marketing to this category. It is true that we need to know how to do it; how she wants to be spoken to; and, how she chooses one brand over another. But we also need to know ‘What’ make certain brand goes straight to her and her friends on Friday night dinner party conversation? Only then, we proceed to ‘How’ we can grow the brand with her.
In the wake of the gender competition, women like her are on the verge of outnumbering men in the workforce for the first time in history – that means more women this age are not only driving purchasing decisions, but also are increasingly controlling the financial decisions. With their financial influence and knowledge, marketers should focus campaigns, which highlight their most valued propositions.
HER STANDPOINT ON CAREER & FINANCES
One of today’s Liz-Meredith-Bridget’s priority is career. Her job is the source of enjoyment and fulfillment. She makes every effort to succeed in the marketplace and accomplishes personal goals while pursuing financial targets and retirement savings. In a study conducted by Marie Claire with consumer-behaviour researcher Pam Danziger , the survey(1) pointed out that 56% of the respondents say “they want to gain wealth to live the good life. More than 60% said not having money is a bigger challenge than not having enough time (chosen by 30%)”.
My lunch buddy Bee (a 39 and senior vice president for financial firm) and her friend Aree (a CFO for prime property holdings) who frequently join us for lunch meetings said “this age came wisdom”. Like Liz-Meredith-Bridget, their money management skills are far better than their younger days and have been a top priority for several years. Both Bee and Aree pointed out, “ as women this age have gotten older, the need to save and invest has started taking more precedence”. As independent mindset is taking its place in this stage, the possibilities of not having a two-income household diminishes every day and the reality that they may have to see this through long term by themself makes them become more diligent in the long-term plan. Their financial goals are gearing towards portfolio investments with secure interest payouts.
On the other hand, the continued upticks in women’s levels of education and their financial standpoints and the age at which they become mothers are among the common shifts making today’s women in this segment more complex than ever. While Bee and Aree establish the habit of saving before spending, editor and blogger Fran, indulges on spending for her precious trophies (husband and kid), and occasional hot brands for self-reward. However, she looks at making her wealth management work much harder for her and her family. She considers that women like her have the average life expectancy 80, therefore her investment horizon is long. Still, she frets over the rising costs of living, health-care expenses and big-ticket items like purchasing house or car, as well as retirement. She’s skeptical about the future living and educational expenses of her child. It is well noted that the big chunk of this segment worry more about their future or that of their family than they used to.
Bee, Aree and Fran may differ in prioritizing what to buy and when to spend, the similarities on how they manage finances is apparent. These women keep track of what they spend. In terms of debt management, they maintain mortgage and credit card bills every month. Their biggest financial worries are unemployment and not having enough money for an early and comfortable retirement.
Apart from being financially savvy and know how to manage their money better, these women while they value time, they invest a lot of it into researching and comparing your brand with those of your competitors before they buy or even to set foot in a shop to spend their hard-earned money. They work at being smarter shoppers and are in a constant search for value.
HER SPENDING HABIT & PURCHASING POWER
Similar to Annie (a public relation consultant) and Anna (a marketing director for the biggest publishing firm) who share the same interest: travel vacation with friends, good food and wine, and beauty and fashion, this Liz-Meredith-Bridget likes to keep up to date when it comes to health and wellness. She wants to be kept updated on news on health and fitness as well. She read labels on food tabs and most likely to be interested in organic and ‘unprocessed or natural’ food. For beauty and fashion, she wants to learn about the trend and prefer to do it herself. She likes to keep up with the latest styles and a hottest brand is important.
Also, she is pragmatic, efficient and rooted in reality. In the article “The Age of Antiaging—A 360-degree View” Alisa Marie Beyer shared that, “women feel most beautiful in their 30s. Forget worrying about middle age; as they are empowered, educated and feel gorgeous, and they’re getting down-to-business with their beauty routine. In fact, 52% of women began purchasing anti-aging products during this decade”.
Annie relates, “physical transformation that works attracts us such as fitness routines Yoga, Pilates, Baree and the likes”. Moreover, the underlying principles of managing her body weight, she tries to frame it in a more ecological and holistic context. Regardless of her acceptance of getting older, she wants to feel and look beautiful all the time, and she is keenly interested in minimizing the effects of aging. Give her a functional product (either, cosmetics, food or clothes) that lets her feel as beautiful as she is now yet also answers her cravings for delaying aging benefits, and you will gain her loyalty.
Nevertheless, to buy or not to buy: that is the question you look for in this article. How does a 30-something woman decide what or which to purchase? What processes does she employ to narrow down the often-bewildering array of choices at the point of sale? So if you are ready to shoot some holes in your strategies for this market. Think about how you can crank up relevant approaches in building awareness, long-term relationships and customer advocacy with them.
Quality and functionality win over price. She read labels and research products meticulously before deciding to check the counters. To reach her further, marketers need to do more than communicate that the goods and services they offer are practical and convenient; highlight functionality and features. But be mindful that the past couple of years, the Liz-Meredith-Bridget profile have been confronted with explosion of product information and choices in almost every category. Sometimes she chooses not to buy at all for fear she will make the wrong selection. Likewise, take note that while low price isn’t going to win, value added products often make sense for her, notably when a high-priced item isn’t much different from a mid-value one.
Service game and first class delivery. Nothing beats the customer experience in any business. Like the rest, she never compromises how she is being treated and never downgrades her expectations. Focusing on this area will further protect against price erosion or even bargain. Start to beef up your customer service. It is essential that your staffs are working on the small yet important details that make service experiences memorable to her, and ensure these happen every time. Your service personnel must be held to account on ‘romancing’ her with thoughtful and helpful moments on every single occasion. In addition, consider the need to strive not only for improvement but also just as diligently towards working through operational details and ensuring consistency in your daily operation.
You are dealing with a woman with more substance. As you are aware now, she is savvier, more empowered, and more demanding than any demographic and psychographic segments. She has a veritable list of things she take into consideration when purchasing. She pays attention to everything from the economic and social impacts of the products she buys to their safety, design, and origin. She is more risk aware, so she feels the need to be more vigilant, but is also more cognisant of her capacity to influence the world with her consumption choices.
Scan for support from her brand partners. Beyond her focus on the product itself, she is also taking into account the companies behind the products and expresses a great desire to feel connected with the companies with which she does business, and she’s seeking out brand partners in which she can believe. Further, she wants to feel good about her purchase decisions. So, it is important for your brand to help her make the “right” choices by giving her practical and emotional incentives to do so. Like supporting advocacy on testing against animals to recycling.
The Liz-Meredith-Bridgets out there are more knowledgeable and more open to alternative processes and often are willing to consider options. But once you win them over, you are not just gaining loyalty. They recommend products to others often, to their age group, apart from the fact that friends and family tend to ask them for advice. Win the brand loyalty of influential for these 30-something women and the rewards can be great.
Remember, they are now categorized as the market’s principal shoppers with the power of the purse. So keep in mind that it’s not enough to understand what these women want. Dig deeper and head check on how they think and customize ways for them. One thing’s for sure – if you want to build a solid, loyal female customer base with a power purse, your commitment needs to be long-term. One-off initiatives may deliver you some quick wins but will not ultimately produce sustainable market share growth.
1 surveys 1,800 women with a concentration on those in their 30s to find out what’s on their minds and extrapolate how marketers can use that information to reach them.
Other Marketing to the Power of the Purse Consumer Series:
WHAT WOMEN WANT? [Series 1: “30 SOMETHINGS”]
TWEENING THE GIRL POWER [Series 2: “TWEEN GIRLS”]
THE WISE WOMEN [Series 3: “THE GOLDEN AGE”]
BESTIES & SELFIES [Series 4: “TEEN GIRLS”]
GENERATION Y NOT [Series 5: “20 SOMETHING”]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Justine Castellon is an independent brand strategist, a business writer and founder of The Market Place 2.1 and Company. She provides creative thinking and interpretation of consumer and market insights. You may reach her Justine.firstname.lastname@example.org | Follow her at www.twitter.com/marketplace21