Updated: Apr 17
Women now drive the world economy.
Globally, they control about $20 trillion in annual consumer spending, and that figure could climb as high as $28 trillion in the next five years. Their $13 trillion in total yearly earnings could reach $18 trillion in the same period. In aggregate, women represent a growth market bigger than China and India combined—more than twice as big, in fact.
Given those 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.
Consider Dell’s short-lived effort to market laptops specifically to women. The company fell into the classic “make it pink” mind-set with the May 2009 launch of its Della website. The site emphasized colors, computer accessories, and tips for counting calories and finding recipes. It created an uproar among women, who described it as “slick but disconcerting” and “condescending.” The blogosphere reacted quickly to the company’s “very special site for women.” Austin Modine of the online tech publicationThe Register responded acidly, “If you thought computer shopping was a gender-neutral affair, then you’ve obviously been struck down by an acute case of female hysteria. (Nine out of ten Victorian-age doctors agree.)” TheNew York Times said that Dell had to go to the “school of marketing hard knocks.” Within weeks of the launch, the company altered the site’s name and focus. “You spoke, we listened,” Dell told users. Kudos to Dell for correcting course promptly, but why didn’t its marketers catch the potentially awkward positioning before the launch?