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Business Women

Working women and female entrepreneurs, who together comprise the businesswoman market, wield mighty economic influence today.

What women learn in making business purchases will likely be incorporated into their off-hour buying behavior. As holistically minded as most women are, it would be difficult to differentiate their personal consumer buying knowledge from their business consumer experience.

The heavily consuming groups of business women and moms frequently overlap in age ranges and certain characteristics, and they often do both "jobs" simultaneously. Given their time constraints and need to quickly gather health and family information, the Internet came into common use none too soon for the women living this duality. We'll start by taking a particularly close look at business women and how to reflect their needs through online marketing efforts.

Within the business women market segment, women who own businesses and female entrepreneurs, as opposed to working women in general, are becoming an even more powerful market segment with every year. In fact, when you specifically examine the segment in the United States of privately held women-owned firms (where at least 50 percent of the ownerships is female), you see some incredible numbers. As of 2002, there were 3.9 million privately held 50 percent women-owned businesses, employing about 9 million workers, and generating $1.17 trillion in sales. Of these firms, over 166,000 have revenues of at least $1 million and about 6,900 have one hundred or more employees. The largest concentration of these firms is in the service sector, followed by retail, construction, finance, real estate, and insurance.

Business Women's Buying Filters

Most working women juggle an array of responsibilities and want to quickly extract the essence from important topics in order to make buying decisions for work and home. Just as making lives easier is a good tip for marketing to single women, so is it a good rule of thumb for business women (who may also be single, we know). The difference is that marketing to women in their business roles puts your brand top of mind for their personal purchases as well. Serve one role well and capture her attention for the purchases she makes in her other roles.

Since women, as business owners or in other roles, are likely to conduct exhaustive advance research on significant purchases via independent sites, why not establish your brand or site as their one stop resource? For example, if your brand risks providing third-party product reviews to support their prebuying behavior, these women will learn to head to your site first when making their next purchase, for business or personal use. This feature could look like a matrix comparing the features and benefits of the top brands in your industry, or a comprehensive checklist helping customers think through their variables in the purchase.

In addition, the relationship-building characteristic of most women will likely affect their business habits as well. Take vendor selection, for example: As a relationship-minded woman considers her hiring or buying, she will be more likely than male entrepreneurs to seek advice from associates and advisors, and she will place more emphasis on vendor quality, service and reputation?

In addition to seeking quality over price, a few more purchase influencers for business women include:

  • Brand loyalty
  • Desire for customer service and training
  • Value of efficient Web sites

Overall, the way these very busy women purchase goods and services seems to reflect a tendency toward efficiency combined with social awareness. Other shared characteristics of business women include:

  • Combine business and personal buying. Eighty percent of women employees and 74 percent of women business owners say that they typically combine business and personal errands or tasks in a single shopping trip. To better serve a business woman's efficient buying tendency, for example, brands may consider expanding inventories to include products (personal and bulk portions) and services (express shipping and postage) that fit both categories of items on a woman's shopping list.
  • Influence by environmental and social responsibility. For business women--entrepreneurs and employees alike--the environmental friendliness of a product exerts a major influence on their consumer purchasing decisions. Many of these women also agree that the social responsibility of the company offering the product or services is a major influence on their decision to buy or not.
  • Hiring help. Given their focus on saving time, it is no surprise that women business owners are more likely to contract for house-cleaning and lawn services. Working women, in general, seem to be finding it easier to let go of the superwoman ideal, admit they need help and feel empowered to get it.

An excerpt from the book Don't Think Pink by Lisa Johnson and Andrea Learned.

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