Marketing to Women Could Be a Business Owner’s Best Decision

Women make the bulk of buying decisions on everything from food to cars, but just painting your product pink isn’t enough to appeal to these savvy consumers.

A young woman holding a toddler looks at pricing information on a new car.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When it comes to marketing to women, the figures are compelling and clear. Globally, according to a not-for-profit that helps build workplaces that work for women, women control about $32 trillion in annual consumer spending. That’s a lot of purchasing power.

In the U.S., women account for 85% of all consumer spending, and they are responsible for a growing number of highly significant buying decisions, including 93% of food and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, 92% of vacations, 91% of new homes, as well as 89% of bank accounts, 80% of health care, 66% of PCs and 65% of new cars.

In addition to that powerful proof of buying power, data from Mindshare/Ogilvy & Mather shows that women are also happy to share stories about their spending, with 92% admitting that they pass along information about deals or online recommendations to others.

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On the flipside of those figures, though, many perceptions around the respect and understanding that female consumers are afforded by the advertising agencies and brands that target them are far from impressive.

Jane Cunningham, co-author with Philippa Roberts of Brandsplaining: Why Marketing Is (Still) Sexist and How to Fix It, told The New York Times that she believes that the way women are often portrayed in advertising represents “a complete misunderstanding about the way that women think.”

And it seems that most women agree.

Research from Yankelovich Monitor and Greenfield Online shows that 91% of women believe advertisers don’t understand them. While that number is likely to create frustration for the women who feel unseen and unheard, it’s a potentially positive figure for brands who are willing to do better and create marketing campaigns that tap into this.

Marketing to Women Isn’t Just About the Color of a Product

For brands keen to restore some faith within the demographic of female customers that promises such potentially lucrative spending, the good news is that, although there is no magic formula to market successfully to women, there are pitfalls to avoid.

To help your products or services connect with savvy female consumers, these five tips may help:

1. Avoid Stereotypes.

Women are not a homogenous group. A twentysomething woman from New York will differ from a woman in the same age range who has been born and raised in Alaska.

Defining a woman only by her gender is another common problem too many marketers make. Instead of creating a singular message that they hope will resonate with all women, today’s mindful marketers should recognize that reaching women often can be done successfully when it is less about gender and more about tapping into simply being human.

Also, differing life experiences and relationships create unique needs for women at different stages of their lives, so the notion of pitching campaigns to all women, no matter how young or old they are, should be a thing of the past.

2. Don’t Make Everything Pink.

There is definitely value in exploring the psychology of colors and how you can utilize those results to market to women more effectively. But painting everything pink is too simplistic.

3. Celebrate Inclusivity and Diversity.

Women come in all shapes, sizes and ethnicities.

To market any service or product successfully, breaking it down to a focused target is a step in the right direction. For example, are you marketing to fortysomething moms who are exploring their career options now that their children are older?

Defining accurate, specific personas — rather than simply anyone who identifies as female — will help you create more effective marketing communications that speak directly with your target market and help them feel that you understand their needs and nuances.

4. Be Bold Enough to Challenge Female Taboos

Creating genuine inclusivity in your marketing messaging means challenging sensitive or taboo topics that women deal with in the real world, such as hormonal imbalances, menopause or aging. By making women feel more visible and understood, your brand can click with them.

5. Storytelling Supports Sustainable Marketing Results.

Generally speaking, storytelling in marketing is an approach that works well for both men and women. But it’s the way those stories are told in marketing campaigns that make the measurable difference.

While men are more likely to respond to factual data, using a combination of comprehensive data and emotional connections can yield more compelling results with women.

Marketing Wealth Management to Women

When it comes to wealth management firms, finding meaningful ways to both attract and retain female customers will be a critical strategy for sustainable growth.

Firms that recognize and understand the needs of women, including their preferences and behaviors around money management, have an opportunity to do well in coming years. By 2030, experts predict, American women will control much of the $30 trillion in financial assets that belong to Baby Boomers, a level of wealth that is close to the current annual GDP of the entire United States.

With American women outliving men by an average of five years, older women are set to inherit a new future of financial decision-making. According to the Spectrem Group, 70% of women shift their business to a new financial institution within a year of their spouse’s death, so the potential to do business with this demographic of wealthy older women is something more financial services brands need to take seriously.

It’s Never Too Late to Market More Effectively

Although many small businesses and old-school advertising strategies seem stuck in the past, the good news is that it is never too late to do better. Building community and trust with the power of social proof is one of the more positively powerful tactics to apply. Also, drawing on real women’s testimonials to motivate other women to choose your product or service and creating connections with a cohort of women who know, like and trust your brand help create loyalty that can last for life.

By telling women’s stories and letting them know that you truly are paying attention to their hopes, fears, wins and unique needs, you will see results that can be built on.


This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.

Justin Grossbard
Co-Founder, and CEO, Innovate Online

Justin’s work has appeared in major publications including Entrepreneur, Finance Magnates and Money Show. Justin has expertise in trading, personal finance and digital marketing. He holds a Commerce degree with honours and Master's in Marketing from Monash University. Justin is the CEO of the digital agency Innovate Online, which he founded 11 years ago. The agency provides direct marketing solutions to some of the largest globally listed companies, and he also assists with small-business start-ups. Previously, he worked for one of the largest advertising agencies with listed financial institutions as clients from ANZ bank to NIB health insurance. He also worked in the UK as marketing manager for a health and safety firm and before that at Federal Highway Administration (VicRoads) in the finance division. He also co-founded the finance website Compare Forex Brokers, which publishes reviews about brokerages to help traders reduce trading fees. Within the US, the site focuses on helping traders select a CFTC-regulated broker based on spreads and trading software features.