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Cynthia Clark | October 27, 2011

The Power of the Female Customer

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Female power has been transformed from a cliché to a reality for businesses. With women believed to make a staggering 80 percent of buying decisions, females represent a very important sector for marketers and the companies they represent.

"Women are deciding on anything from cars to computers, cold remedies to cauliflower," Betty Spence, president of the National Association for Female Executives, said during The Conference Board's Customer Loyalty Conference last week.

And according to a Nielsen study published earlier this year, women's control over spending decisions will only increase in the coming years, making it even more essential for companies to keep them in mind when developing their marketing strategies.

According to Linda Descano, president and CEO of Citigroup's Women & Co, women are not only creating more wealth for their families by working, but are also managing that wealth. "If you can engage a woman to be an advocate for your brand, you're reaching three generations," she said, referring to the fact that many women are not only making decisions for themselves, but also impacting their parents and children.

For example, when it comes to healthcare, women are not only the main decision-makers for their whole family, but according to Susan Connor, the vice president of Pfizer's Women's Health/GU&GI, Global Primary Care, they are also more engaged in the system. Connor said that to create a loyal female customer, companies need to really understand her needs and wants. "The key is to help her feel comfortable with the decisions she is making for herself and her family," she said, adding that while women want innovative medicines that meet their needs, they are also loyal to their favorite brands.

Connor pointed out that women tend to have many demands on their time, juggling their career with motherhood and with being caregivers, and they want to have the information in hand to make decisions immediately whenever the need arises. This puts the onus on companies to give females the information they need to make these decisions.

This, she emphasized, makes it imperative for companies to effectively communicate with their female customers and give them all the information they need. "They must provide relevant information through multiple channels to enable women to make the right choices," she said.

During the same panel discussion, Jacqueline Woods, IBM's vice president for global industry and solutions marketing, systems and technology group, emphasized that women are more judicious, which makes them more likely to seek as much information as possible before making a decision. "It is important for businesses to understand this," she said.

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