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This story first appeared in the October 19, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
This was the main idea of the president by Jennifer Pasiakos Lipman’s vice president, digital, who believes that women are the next global emerging market in the digital ecosystem.
“I’m going to share with you a women’s movement unlike any seen before it. [This is] an emerging movement about women for women, women for men — but moreover, a unique recognition of her individual contributions which in aggregate engineer our global digital economy,” she said. “I love the fact that it’s about a feminist movement, but not the ones you always hear about. I’m talking about women as an individual category. She’s basically driving the entire digital experience — whether it’s social, shopping or the ways businesses are catering to her.”
Pasiakos substantiated this with several statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau and World Bank. Among them: 91 percent of home purchases, 65 percent of new cars, 66 percent of computers, 80 percent of health care, 60 percent of men’s wear, 80 percent of U.S. spending and 65 percent of global spending are all the result of women.
However, only 8 percent of apparel purchases happen online — which is divided into 54.3 percent males and 45.7 percent females, a number that puts women slightly in the minority but is “catching up quickly.” Currently, women are spending 8 percent more time online per month — which is two hours more a day than her male counterpart.
Pasiakos said that, when targeting women in the digital sphere as an emerging market, there are three key points that brands must keep in mind. These are: respecting that she is not a niche market (and that her influence fuels commerce globally); joining her circle and listening and engaging with her on the various social channels she’s using, and realizing her influence on every purchase, including men’s wear, cars and computers.
Within the digital community, Pasiakos contends that women are the resounding voice. They spend 30 percent more time on the social Web and mobile usage is 55 percent female.
“We all know the business and culture of fashion was a push-pull environment, but the rise of social media has completely changed the landscape. Women are driving these taste-based communities and brands who engage always stand to gain from her involvement,” Pasiakos said.
She cited Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, who said that women are not only the majority of the platform’s users, but they drive 62 percent of activity in terms of messages, updates and comments, including 71 percent of daily fan activity.
Moving on to Twitter, Pasiakos further proved this by noting that 55 percent of accounts belong to women and that they tweet double that of men — and they even follow more people. On Yelp, most of the comments and purchases are made by women, and on OpenTable, reservations are booked mostly by women as well.
With respect to e-commerce, she pointed out that women out-shop men at every turn, adding that, as a gender, women are responsible for 25 percent more transactions per month than men — driving over 70 percent of apparel, accessories and jewelry sales online. This adds up — considering that companies such as Zappos and Groupon grossed $1 billion and $760 million in 2010, respectively.
So what does this all mean?
“Delivering on gender differentiation is more than a nice to have. It’s a need to win. Women are the digital mainstream and they are the voice of the global digital community,” Pasiakos said. “At Lipman we think the ongoing debate about women and technology has been missing a critical insight. Women are not only the routers and amplifiers of our digital ecosystem, they are fueling all forms of commerce globally — in-store, online, and via mobile, social and tablet. She is not just a market, she is the market.”