When the Maria Shriver study titled “A Women’s Nation” was published during the latter part of 2009, it was big news for much of the nation.
Finally, the impact of the women who entered the work force in massive numbers since the 1960s were being recognized for their impact on society, and the information was being discussed by everyone from the cable news shows to the various social media.
For the first time in history, more than half of the work force was female and women controlled or influenced 85% of all consumer purchases and purchase decisions in this country.
Women had become more educated, held positions in upper management of Fortune 500 companies, and were also the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs. In other words, they influenced or controlled most of the consumer commerce in this country!
Included in the overall statistics about women is a massive economic powerhouse: Women of Color.
This group in total represents about 35.2% of all women. From 2000 to 2007, more than 85% of the females coming into this country were Hispanic, Black, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Native Alaskan.
Currently, this group in total is 54 million strong and is projected to grow to 63 million by 2020, 75 million by 2030, and to 100 million by 2050 or sooner, according to the U.S. Census Bureau projections. The non-Hispanic White female group, meanwhile, is projected to decline in population by 2040 and by 2050 half of the females in the U.S. will be ‘Women of Color.’
Today, Women of Color as a group are about a decade younger in average age than non-Hispanic white females, which means as a business owner, you have an opportunity to reach them now and have a greater life time value as you provide them your products and services.
Additionally, today’s Women of Color are more educated and attain 57% of the undergraduate degrees earned by students of color.
More than half of them are single and make their own decisions on what products and services to purchase. Some 2.4 million businesses are owned by Women of Color and they employ more than 1.6 million workers and generate more than $230 billion in sales revenue.
These women own and earn more than at any other time in history and the projections are that this will continue to grow.
This group is networked, brand loyal, and, like so many women, use the social media to communicate with each other and with the social network at large. They share information and they do it in beauty shops, grocery stores, at church anywhere there is an informal gathering.
ROI and Return on Women
As a business owner, how are you going to reach this very powerful and influential market segment? One that is projected to spend $1.2 trillion on goods and services in 2010?
What are you doing to reach the female market in general, which represents 50% of the population and controls or influences 85% of purchases? How are you prepared to interact with the various ethnic cultures within the female group? Can you afford to have a place of business and the products and services that do not meet their needs? What business strategies do you have in place to earn their business and keep that business?
Do you have a business plan that encompasses gender, diversity, and stages of life? How are you preparing your employees for these changes? In fact, does your workforce reflect the marketplace in which you do business? What type of training are you providing them? Do you have an advertising agency that understands cultural and gender relevant messages with an effective media plan that also includes social media? Do you know the language preferences and ethnic characteristics of your market place?
Have you analyzed your strengths and weaknesses? What are your competitors doping to address this market, and how do you compare with them?
What can you do to make your products and your services relevant to this diverse market or, for that matter, how are you differentiating yourself from the rest of the competition?
It should all be addressed in your business plan, as should an evaluation of your dealership and locations. Utilizing ‘mystery shoppers to gain a third party vantage point of your stores, to understand the employee handling of your customers, and to evaluate your messages in the marketplace is a very inexpensive and accurate way to get a true appraisal of the face you are presenting to a diverse public.
And, most importantly, track and measure your plan. Everyone on your team must support the plan to make it work and if it is not measured and course-corrected as required opportunities to grow your business will be lost.
Most of us are familiar with the book “Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus” which offers many suggestions for improving male-female relationships by understanding the communication style and emotional needs of the opposite gender.
Training your staff to communicate more effectively with women and understand how men and women make purchases is the first step in increasing your ROI and your ROW (Return on Women). If you are going to grow your business today and in coming years, you will need to encompass gender and diversity.
We have the clear signs that this country is rapidly changing. Is your business ready for this new America in which we live?
Patricia Roberts is the director of business development for AskPatty.Com. She has nearly 40 years of experience in the automotive industry, including increasing the number of women who own and who work in car and service dealerships.