In retail, yes, women are all that

June 10, 2013

New studies reaffirm female dominance in the shopping marketplace—and increasingly at work and home.

This article and more published in the June issue of Facts, Figures & the Future.

We see so many new insights about men shopping and cooking more today.  

To keep retailers from focusing on males’ evolving household roles (and the incremental growth they represent) to the extent they lose sight of women, F3 sends this reminder:  That would be a big mistake. 

In recent weeks, Nielsen, Pew and the Private Label Manufacturers Association released studies reaffirming the critical importance of women to retail success. The Lempert Report covered the PLMA study recently, yet the others offer additional insights for supermarkets and others to strategize around.  Here are highlights of what their reports show.

According to Nielsen, women made 72% of trips to dollar stores and mass merchants in 2012, as well as 69% of trips to supercenters, 68% to drug, 63% to supermarkets, 61% to wholesale clubs, and 43% to convenience/gasoline outlets.

Women also spend more money per trip than men in every channel.  Nielsen specified, for instance, that women drive the larger, planned stock-up trips and outspend men by $14.31 per supercenter trip and $10.32 per supermarket trip.

Retailers seeking to reach women on their paths to purchase should utilize TV/video and social media.  Nielsen states women 18 and older: watched 179 hours, 20 minutes of TV in Q4 2012, plus more than 15 hours of time-shifted TV; spent more than 7 hours on career, shopping and social media sites; and spent more than 5 hours on cellphones.  These figures were all higher than in the same period a year earlier.

Meanwhile, the Pew Research Center exhaustively analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data (decennial censuses from 1960-2010 and the 2011 American Community Survey), and conducted its own public opinion survey in late-April 2013.  The Pew report, Breadwinner Moms, reveals much about the subjects’ multiple roles as driving forces of their households today.  Highlights that could help retailers and CPG serve moms’ needs and understand the pressures they face include:

  • Mothers are the sole or primary provider in 40.4% of U.S. households with children under age 18.  Of these moms, 63% are single and 37% are married with higher income than their husbands.  The single moms had a median family income of $23,000 in 2011; the married moms, $80,000.
  • Women comprise 47% of the U.S. labor force today; among married moms, the rate was 65% in 2011.  The share of married couples with children in which dad is the breadwinner and mom is the homemaker has fallen from about 70% in 1960 to 31% in 2011.   
  • Among married couples with children, total median family income is highest when the mom, not the dad, is the lead provider—that is $79,800 when mom earns more, $78,000 when dad earns more, and $70,000 when both earn the same.
  • Married moms are increasingly better educated than their husbands—23% in two-parent families today—and this ties to their rising economic empowerment.