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Women Want More

A Revolutionary Opportunity
September 08, 2009 by Michael J. Silverstein and Katharine Sayre
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In This Article
  • Not only do women represent one of the largest market opportunities in our lifetimes but they also will be an important force in hastening recovery and new prosperity.

  • This excerpted introduction to the book Women Want More highlights the key findings and conclusions of BCG's consumer research into the workings of the female economy.

 

A quiet economic and social revolution is taking place as we write this book.

There may not be violence in the streets, but there is upheaval in the workplace, turmoil in the home, radical change in the marketplace, and a struggle for influence in government and society as a whole. It is a revolution of, by, and for women—driven by a desire for more: for ongoing education, better ways to nurture themselves and their families, increased success as executives and entrepreneurs, higher earnings, and better ways to manage and leverage their accumulated wealth.

It is a revolution of dissatisfaction in which women are using their checkbooks to vote no on large sectors of the economy, including financial services, consumer electronics, consumer durables, and healthcare. They are saying: “You don’t understand me,” “There are too many demands on my time,” “I have an overwhelming share of house hold chores and a full- time job,” “Help me or I’ll find another provider.”

Some observers say that the most important economic and social changes of the early twenty-first century are taking place in China and India. We believe that the emergence of a whole new social and economic order, which can accurately be labeled a female economy—in every country and every arena—is an even more significant upheaval. The data we have gathered during the course of research for this book are clear and startling:

  • Worldwide, 1 billion women participate in the workforce.

  • The number of working women in the United States has increased by 50 percent in the past twenty years, to 75 million.

  • Working women in the United States generate $4.3 trillion in earned income annually.

  • Women account for 57 percent of the students of higher education in this country and 47 percent worldwide.

  • Women worldwide make or influence at least 64 percent of all purchases in a wide variety of categories, and a much higher percentage in many of them.

On the basis of our quantitative research and our interviews with women around the world, we believe that these indicators will continue to move upward. And, as we’ve said, over the next several years, women will drive an incremental increase of up to $5 trillion in global earnings—bigger than any bailout package.

This is an excerpt from Women Want More: How to Capture Your Share of the World's Largest, Fastest-Growing Market by Michael J. Silverstein and Kate Sayre. Copyright © 2009, The Boston Consulting Group, Inc. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.