Women consumers are driving the world economy. They control about $20 trillion in annual consumer spending globally. Women are responsible for about 70% to 80% of all consumer purchasing through their buying power and influence. Given the numbers, it would be foolish to ignore or underestimate the female consumer. And yet many companies do just that, even ones that are confident they have a winning strategy when it comes to women.

Why should your business tap the female economy? What should you know about female consumer behavior? Here is a guide for you.

Why Gender-Based Marketing Matters

Female consumers, or the Sheconomy, represent a market larger than China and India combined. It is imperative for you to understand gender-based decision making to deliver the right buying messages to the right market.

Since time immemorial, women have been acting as the gatekeeper of the family expenditures. Men bring the dough, and women decide on how the household consumes it. Despite the changing times, this arrangement has not changed much. When it comes to budgeting, the woman is the boss. This was affirmed by a recent study by the National Australia Bank. “On balance, women probably have a greater influence in overall financial decision making,” according to Dean Pearson, head of behavioral and industry economics at NAB. While men are likely to decide on the bank of choice and utility providers, women are mostly in charge of deciding about buying major household items.

Boost your bottom line by connecting with the decision maker for your products and services. This does not mean, however, that you should disregard the other consumers. Remember that the number of households with female heads is rising every day. Customize your marketing initiatives.

Women Purchase on Behalf of Others

Women are both buyers and influencers. They also purchase on behalf of others, leading to a multiplier effect. Women primarily act as housekeepers and carers of children and the elderly. They buy goods and services on behalf of the household.

Generally, men decide on the type of vehicle for the family. They act as the handyman, the insurer of everyone’s safety and security. However, as you are aware, there are more single mothers and female heads of families. They make the buying decisions, from the brand of laundry soap to the car model.

Women Make Important Buying Decisions

A notable article by the Harvard Business Review suggested that women decide in the purchases of 94% of home furnishings, 92% of vacations, 91% of homes, 60% of automobiles, and 51% of consumer electronics. However, most businesses are yet to acknowledge female buying power.

Take, for instance, automobile sales. Men are considered the top consumers of vehicles. Marketing efforts of auto manufacturers are glaringly focused to encourage men into buying a new car. Why are there female models strutting in car shows and not males? With the lucrative buying power of women, most auto manufacturers are missing out on serious money.

Take, for instance, car ownership by gender. In the Philippines, about 45% of all car sales are attributed to women buyers. There are some manufacturers doing gender-based marketing, but most are still adjusting. What are the values of the female buyer? What does she want? How do you get a woman to buy a car of her own?

“While it’s unlikely that brands will abolish their traditional approaches of targeting male buyers, marketers do find themselves in a quandary as they try to understand the values and buying habits of female car-buyers that now represent a significant slice of prospective sales,” according to sales platform AutoDeal.

Women are Powerful Influencers

The millennial generation, the largest in American history, is the leading consumer in this digital age. “Millennials are quickly becoming the most important consumers encountered by most types of business, with a spending power that is estimated to be worth $10 trillion over their lifetimes,” according to Forbes.

It is time to put serious attention to millennial female consumers. A report from Merkle and Levo suggested that millennial women tend to have above-average household incomes, collectively estimated at $170 billion. They are focused on increasing their income as 40% said they have a side hustle.

Young female consumers are not only purchasers; they are powerful influencers. The Jenner sisters are probably the best case study, but even among the general female public, millennial women can truly do wonders for their favorite brands. They take beautiful photos of their purchases, shout out their favorite restaurants, and openly patronize their well-loved brands. Satisfied millennial consumers are your best brand ambassadors.

How Do You Market to Female Consumers?

In 2009, Dell made a failed attempt to tap the female market by running a “make it pink” campaign. Its website emphasized feminine colors and accessories, and provided tips for counting calories and finding recipes. As expected, the campaign offended women with some describing it as “disconcerting” and “condescending.” As Forbes puts it, pink is not a strategy.

It takes research to understand the female market, like any other market. Forbes recommends striving for gender-balanced teams. “Research shows that companies with gender-balanced teams have a higher ROI,” Forbes noted. Get a better understanding of the Sheconomy from the best sources: women. Run surveys, implement focus group meetings, and speak to leading female influencers.

Know the trends driving the female population to create effective marketing strategies. Based on the latest figures, there are more women in the labor force today more than ever. More women are postponing marriage, and they are having fewer children than in past generations. The simple message is to emphasize on female empowerment.

Women have money. They purchase on behalf of the household, and they influence others’ buying decisions. If you are still undecided on whether to tap this market, you are way behind the game. Understand the needs, wants, and aspirations of the Sheconomy. Most importantly, ditch the stereotypical mindset that all women are alike, or that they are fond of pink. “There’s no reason they should settle for products that ignore or fail to fully meet their needs, or that do so cynically or superficially. Women will increasingly resist being stereotyped, segmented only by age or income, lumped together into an ‘all women’ characterization, or, worse, undifferentiated from men,” as Harvard Business Review intelligently shares.Opinions expressed here are the opinions of the author. Influencive does not endorse or review brands mentioned; does not and can not investigate relationships with brands, products, and people mentioned and is up to the author to disclose. VIP Contributors and Contributors, amongst other accounts and articles, are professional fee-based.

Aby League is a researcher with a Masters Degree in Biology. More than doing her job, she is a technology and innovation enthusiast with a passion for data and writing. She writes mostly about Technology, Online Banking and Shopping, Investing, and Market Research. Her work has been featured in multiple online publications including AdAge, BestTechie, 60SecondMarketer, and many more.