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Press Releases

  • September 19, 2013
  • Despite the Growing Economic Influence of Women, Many of Their Needs Remain Largely Unmet

  • Updated Research by The Boston Consulting Group Shows That the Female Economy Continues to Gain Momentum, Yet Many Companies Still Aren't Focused on Tailoring Products and Saving Time for Women


CHICAGO, September 19, 2013—Women are forecast to add $6 trillion in additional earned income over the next five years, yet many companies are still struggling with how to provide products and services that meet their needs for value, time savings, and emotional connection, according to new research by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

In the first full data update to the firm’s 2009 landmark book Women Want More: How to Capture Your Share of the World’s Largest, Fastest-Growing Market, BCG found that while women have made substantial progress in earnings and remain the most important buyer at home, most companies have not gotten significantly better at tailoring their offerings to capture their business. Among the key findings from BCG's research:

• Over the next five years, working women will drive an increase in earned income globally from $12.5 trillion to $18.5 trillion. The global average of female earned income is expected to rise by about $8,000 during this period.

• Women continue to have serious dissatisfactions in many product and service categories, largely because companies misunderstand women’s issues and fail to answer their needs. Globally, women’s biggest dissatisfactions currently are in home services (such as remodeling and cleaning), work apparel, and health care. Five years ago, their categories of greatest dissatisfaction were financial services, health care, and consumer durables, such as cars.

• Women still feel burdened by the “triple whammy” of time-related challenges: managing the household and finances, finding time for themselves, and juggling too many demands on their time. Financial issues have moved up in the hierarchy of concerns as a result of the recent recession.

• An average of 40 percent of men worldwide rarely or never help their wives with home chores. The percentage ranges from as low as 30 percent in India to 63 percent in Brazil. The United States and United Kingdom both are at the lower end of the spectrum, with 41 percent.

• Money does seem to buy happiness: women in the upper and upper-middle classes feel more loved, satisfied, appreciated, successful, and fulfilled than women in the middle, lower-middle, and lower classes—by significant margins.

The new findings are based on economic research by the firm and an in-depth survey of nearly 7,800 women in 13 countries conducted in June and July, 2013.

According to Michael J. Silverstein, a BCG senior partner and coauthor of Women Want More, women’s increasing economic influence is “an inescapable phenomenon” driven by several factors.

“First, women are now the majority of undergraduates worldwide. Younger women are entering the workforce with no limits on their ambition,” Silverstein says. “They are expecting equal pay for equal work, continued primary influence at home on spending, and loyalty to suppliers that provide them with higher-quality products and services for less money.”

“Women are increasingly well off and very profitable customers,” he adds. “They are willing to pay more across many categories for products and services that meet their needs. As they become increasingly time constrained, there is significant untapped value in providing them with a means to save time.  They will trade money for time savings.”

Companies that understand this, according to Silverstein, have shown major results in terms of sales growth, consumer loyalty, and category dominance. As examples, he cites Gerber, which constantly expands its product line based on research into what mothers want for their young children; Procter & Gamble, whose Swiffer has made the dreary job of sweeping the floor faster and less labor intensive; and Victoria’s Secret, which has produced and continuously improved it line of lingerie.

Silverstein says that significant growth in spending by women should be matched by company investment in understanding their needs.

“Women are still burdened by having to manage the family finances, with not enough money, not enough time, and too much stress. Winning companies will address their dissatisfactions with bull’s-eye responses and gain the lead in both current female-controlled spending and incremental spending.”

To request a copy of the findings or arrange an interview with Michael Silverstein, please contact Alexandra Corriveau at +1 212 446 3261 or corriveau.alexandra@bcg.com.

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About The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 81 offices in 45 countries.

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