50+ Women Are Good For Business

The over-50 consumer group represents a portion of the buying public no marketer can afford to ignore, says MassMutual Financial Group. But what makes their advice more intriguing is that they identify women as the major cohort in this consumer group.  They state, “The women of this group own more than 75% of the nation’s financial wealth.”

With this much buying power you would think businesses would knock themselves out to bring the 50+ customer through their doors, particularly the women. The truth is, only about 15% of marketing is directed at the 50+ consumer group and, in many important industries, women aren’t the targeted gender even though they are the prime buyer or influencer.

Take, for example, the auto industry…. 50% of the new car purchases are made by buyers 50 years of age or older…Canadians 60 and over are the largest group of new car buyers, purchasing 3 out of 10 vehicles.  Women make up to 85% of the car buying decisions. Women buy 65% of all tires and 70% of them buy new tires when they are told they need them.

In the fashion industry, the majority of ads feature young models…yet over 50% of women’s apparel is bought by women over the age of 50.

Tom Peters, the author of the iconic business book “In Search of Excellence” has long been a proponent of the economic power of women.  In his presentation called “Women Buy, Women Rule”, he states that women are the prime decision-makers in almost every key industry. They make:

  • 94% of home furnishings decisions
  • 94% of vacation decisions
  • 91% of house purchase decisions
  • 80% of D.I.Y home project decisions
  • 51% of home electronics decisions
  • 66% of home computer decisions
  • 68% of car purchase decisions, (they are influential in 90%)
  • 83% of all consumer purchases
  • 89% of bank account decisions
  • 67% household investment decisions
  • 70% of small business loans and business starts decisions
  • 80% of health care decisions

One recently retired multi-millionaire recently told me the reason for his success in building ten profitable businesses was that he structured all his research and decisions around how women would buy his products. “The most serious mistakes I ever made were when I didn’t factor in what women were buying and why.”

In e-commerce, female online purchasing power is clear. Sites like Zappos, Groupon, Gilt Groupe, and Etsy are all driven by a majority of female customers. According to Gilt Groupe, women are 70% of the customers and 74% of revenue.

With women outnumbering men significantly in the 50+ demographic and adding to this the generational inheritance that is taking place as the older generation passes its wealth to the next generation, women over age 50 will hold most of the wealth.  Research shows that this may be a very stabilizing factor for our economy. Women have proven they make very astute financial decisions.

Kevin O’Leary, from the TV series Shark Tank, is vocal about his preference of women CEOs over men.  Fifty-five per cent of the companies in his portfolio have women CEOs.  “I’ve invested in 20 different entrepreneurial and mid-cap companies and I’ve made more money with the women executives,” O’Leary told Carol Roth, a contributor to entrepreneur.com. He credits women with getting him both faster exits and higher returns.

As we are starting to learn, women between the ages of 50- 70 are predominantly the decision-makers not only for their own households, but are often the primary influencer or decision-maker for their parents. In other words, they are making purchases on behalf of two generations of consumers. Who else can a marketer target and get double the bang for their buck?

Women are not just consumers, they are the decision makers at the top of corporations. Like O’Leary, corporations are seeing the stability that women bring to the boardroom. While boardrooms are still skewed in gender toward men, a variety of studies show that women in leadership roles equate to better company performance, says Roth.  She references a report from Credit Suisse that says companies with more than one woman on their boards have outperformed those with no women on their boards in the stock market.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but McKinsey & Company found that international companies with more women on their corporate boards far outperformed the average company in return on equity. Operating profit was 56 percent higher.   [Statistic provided by Tom Peters]

Bottom line: Women are not only good FOR business, they are good IN business.


INSPIRED Senior Living is a monthly magazine distributed across British Columbia for readers over the age of 55.  We provide an opportunity for businesses to reach this dynamic consumer group through our print and online magazine, our website or one of our 55+ Lifestyle Shows. If you would like more details on how to market to this cohort, we’d be happy to assist you. Please email us at sales@seniorlivingmag.com or phone 250-479-4705.

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