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    Female Shoppers Wield More Power, Influence Than Ever Before

    More than 50 percent feel responsible for helping friends, family make smart buying decisions.

    ST. LOUIS -- The core demographic for convenience stores may be males, but a new study is cautioning retailers not to overlook female consumers.

    According to the research study published by Fleishman-Hillard International Communications, a global strategic communications firm, in conjunction with Hearst Magazines, today's American female consumer has increased her impact as a receiver, broadcaster and influencer of key information. The study points to a female consumer's ever-expanding social circle and the unique way she buys across categories as key factors in her importance as a shopper.

    Notably, the research study found that 54 percent of all women agree with the statement, "I feel it is my responsibility to help friends and family make smart purchase decisions."

    "During the past few years, we have watched the evolution of women and their sphere of influence," said Nancy Bauer, senior vice president and senior partner, Fleishman-Hillard. "Simply put, when it comes to the dynamics of today's marketplace, women have changed the marketing communications game. The 2012 female consumer is a valuable broadcaster and an amplifier of ideas in the marketplace."

    As the research study notes, females are taking even greater control, honing in on priorities and delegating with greater authority as economic challenges linger.

    "We all must realize that today's American woman has integrated a pragmatic and purposeful approach to the decision-making process for products and brands alike," said Marlene Greenfield, vice president, executive director of research, Hearst Magazines. "Therefore, it is important to incorporate more substance and less sizzle when communicating with her. What's more, crafting the right message and identifying the right media mix requires an in-depth understanding of the target segment and category involved."

    Retailers should also keep in mind that it is almost as important who she tells before and after a purchase. In 2011, more than 50 percent of women surveyed claimed to regularly influence friends and family to buy or not buy a product or service. That is an increase from 31 percent in 2008, according to the study.

    The research also showed that women use their growing social interaction and influence in a positive manner -- 33 percent had recommended a product or service in the past six months, while 19 percent recommended that someone not buy a specific product or service.

    Social media channels are playing large and growing roles in the expansion of a woman's networks and in her everyday life. In less than 12 months, the number of brands a woman follows on Facebook has increased by 12 percent. In addition, the study found 73 percent of women now use Facebook, compared to 65 percent in January 2010. In addition, the average respondent reported having 187 friends, compared to 130 friends in 2010.

    Specifically of note to retailers, 65 percent of women are a friend/fan of a company, brand or product on Facebook, compared to 52 percent of men, the researchers found.

     

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