The Rise of the Sheconomy - Yahoo!

News

5/12/10 8:24 PM

The Rise of the Sheconomy
In the hierarchy of activities that people despise, getting a car repaired is in pole position, sort of the auto equivalent of having a tooth pulled, except you bleed money and don't get a smiley sticker as you leave. Garry Rosenfeldt, marketing-research director for Midas International, knew this. After their cars were fixed, only 1 in 4 Midas customers returned to buy other services. Even dentists see their customers more often than that. To ascertain what might make it more pleasant - or at least less odious for customers, Rosenfeldt set up an experiment in late 2008 in which customers were recorded before and after they brought their cars in for repairs. He found that while auto shops inspired fear and loathing in men and women alike, the two sexes had different ideas about how to improve the experience. (See an infographic of the growing buying power of women.) Since Midas is in the testosterone-y world of engine blocks and overhead camshafts, it needed to aim for what the men wanted, right? Nuh-uh. "From a financial point of view, I'd rather have a woman in the shop than a man," says Rosenfeldt. They're better customers, he believes, more loyal and evangelistic. "They talk about looking for 'their guy,'" he says. And once they find him and trust him, he adds, "they spend more." Over at Best Buy, Julie Gilbert, a senior vice president whose job it was to figure out high-end male consumers, had already come to the same conclusion. She liked to do her research in living rooms, so she got herself invited to a couple of rich guys' homes to figure out why they'd buy widgets and peripherals at Best Buy but not pricey home theaters. Almost from the first home she visited, she realized she was talking to the wrong person. "The women took over the conversation," Gilbert says. "They had incredible passion and intensity about the store experience, and for every issue they also had a solution."
http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20101203/us_time/09171203091300# Page 1 of 8

And according to James Chung of research firm Reach Advisors. These gains.yahoo.including. about a third of women outearn their husbands." In Atlanta. according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. continues its migration from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge-based one.one that has enormous consequences across global economies is that women are also the earners. women are poised to snag more jobs. most fundamentally.9% of all nonfarm labor jobs and 51. (Watch TIME's video "The 25 Most Powerful Women of the 20th Century. among one specific segment . They make up the majority of the workforce in 9 of the 10 occupations the BLS predicts will add the most jobs in the next eight years.childless city-dwelling single people in their 20s . three women do. This is almost the exact opposite of the graduation ratio that existed when the baby boomers entered college. or has long suspected. mostly the product of education. may dissipate as these women have kids. For every two guys who graduate from college or get a higher degree. are far less likely to be in the highest-salaried executive positions and suffer a prohibitive motherhood penalty. better pay for more women changes many things . how much money they http://news. While it's true that most women still earn less than men. their median full-time income is 108% that of their male counterparts.The Rise of the Sheconomy . 117%. The difference today .") And as the U. the U. workforce became nearly half female: women held 49.S. in New York City. "they've not just caught up .the average pay gap favors females: in metropolitan areas. In October 2009. that the purse strings are held by women.Yahoo! News 5/12/10 8:24 PM What these two and many other businesses discovered is the Sheconomy. This is not likely to be a blip.com/s/time/20101203/us_time/09171203091300# Page 2 of 8 .S. women are at 121% of men's pay.5% of high-paying management and professional positions. It's oft repeated that they make 85% of the buying decisions or are the chief purchasing officers of their households. Nevertheless. In some places. says Chung. who spent more than a year analyzing data from the Census Bureau's 2008 American Community Survey.they're clocking the guys. Everyone knows.

They're 44% of NFL fans. They're $105 billion of the $256 billion home-improvement market. cars and financial services. This year. has a chief listening officer on staff. if they choose. but even in the U. globally. Evidence of this shift is visible all around the world. as Maddy Dychtwald observes in Influence. But in the 22% of households studied in which the wife earned more. In 2007. And women are increasingly making the calls where men have traditionally held sway.yahoo.com/s/time/20101203/us_time/09171203091300# Page 3 of 8 . she makes a third. Much of this is a result of women's growing economic power in developing countries. household spending decisions are divided roughly equally. women were $90 billion worth of the $200 billion consumer-electronics business.3% of the nation's private wealth.. a smaller.The Rise of the Sheconomy . the changes start at home. A recent Pew study of 30-to-44-year-olds showed that when a husband is the primary or sole breadwinner." See more about the state of the American woman in today's society. a grinding of the gears of history into a new human condition. A recent Booz & Co. seize the reins of economic control. "It's a world where women can.(See how Americans are spending now. in a stroke of nomenclature genius.S. they are the next emerging economy. Kodak. As these things often do. and they make a third jointly." meaning that." she writes. http://news. report called women "the Third Billion. The more money women earn. she made more than twice as many decisions as her husband about where the money would go.) Given this power shift. "We're on the brink of a massive power shift.Yahoo! News 5/12/10 8:24 PM have. milder cigar aimed specifically at women. few indeed are the industries that aren't trying to lure the female dollar. He makes about a third of them. one of many books on the subject of female economic empowerment to come out in the past 12 months. even formerly deeply stubbled fields like computers. Harley-Davidson has a Women Riders section on its website. women hold sway over 51. Cuban cigar manufacturer Habanos launched the Julieta. the exponentially more money they manage.

Rosenfeldt estimates that about a third of the franchisees read it. "They want all the same things men do and then some. which in dreamy. grow geraniums in the discarded rims? In fact.T. "Women have a more http://news." (See TIME's covers featuring women. author of three books about marketing to women and the widely acknowledged chief rabbi of the Sheconomy. The women-friendly commercials the company tested didn't fare much better.com/s/time/20101203/us_time/09171203091300# Page 4 of 8 . Dell took a similarly girlie approach in May 2009 with its Della website. They just wanted to get to know the guy fixing their car." says Marti Barletta. and they're not. a third filed it and a third "just thought it was stupid. soft-focus scenes hawked "cute" netbooks and laptops and offered tech tips on how to find recipes online and track calories. The data is plentiful: Do it and get more business.The Rise of the Sheconomy . "One of the big mistakes companies make is assuming women are all about the warm and fuzzy. women didn't mind if the shop was grimy or the mechanic grease-covered. armtwisting and rewarding." The head office tried persuading. "It seemed so obvious to us." says Rosenfeldt. You know how computers get fried if you spill liquid on them? So many gallons of Internet Hatorade were poured on that site that within 10 days. "We sent our franchisees these books. No dice." To appeal to women. Greet.E.Yahoo! News 5/12/10 8:24 PM How Not to Woo Women But for an auto shop.) The idea went over like a tofu bar at a truck stop. What is Midas supposed to do. And it turned out the guys quite liked doing that too. Thank. Explain. seducing women is not a trivial matter. They didn't even necessarily need women behind the counter. Dell had to shut Della down entirely.yahoo. the changes in a product or service or even the way a company is run have to be more profound. Midas isn't the only company to have stumbled as it attempted to lure women. according to Rosenfeldt's research. So the head office came up with a reasonably straightforward plan. a getting-it-right program: G. Nothing too fancy.

Johnson & Johnson found out the painful way. Rarely has a campaign for a men's product been more gynocentric. (See pictures of expensive things that money can buy. the spa. women have a weapon they haven't had before: online social networks. but until it happened. And as customers. the secondary characteristics are key: the gym. the sustainability. A guy. women do 62% of the sharing.The Rise of the Sheconomy . she suggests.com/s/time/20101203/us_time/09171203091300# Page 5 of 8 . Get the guy right and you've made a sale. with a 2008 Motrin campaign that followed the inner monologue of a mom toting her infant around in a baby carrier. Overnight they formed a group. The company apologized and canceled the ad.Yahoo! News 5/12/10 8:24 PM comprehensive decision process. He will book the first hotel room he finds at his price point. A cross between a girls' night out and the mother of all organizing tools. and @motrinmoms gave J&J a Twitter headache as emotions escalated. nobody was quite aware of the implications. from its parodying of the sexist way women are often portrayed in such commercials to its mockery of the idealized modern male partner. these networks have given women the kind of muscle that can be a blessing or a bloodbath for those it's flexed upon. Of the more than 500 million people on Facebook. a hot man who can bake cakes and build a kitchen and get two tickets to anything . It makes sense that. You could talk to Mustafa. It "totally makes me look like an official mom. Some mothers felt belittled. women would take to online social networks.) Bring On the Horse Then there's Isaiah Mustafa. and http://news. the thread count.while on a horse! After a couple of commercials." says Barletta. is a targeted shopper. given their disposition to tend and befriend. For a woman. Mustafa took to YouTube to give customized video responses to tweeters' requests. the hunky Old Spice guy. See 10 things to buy during the recession." she notes in a Web video before agonizing over the backache it gives her. including a wedding proposal. get the woman right and you have a customer.yahoo.

It's relationship marketing with an actual relationship." says Rosenfeldt. (See TIME's Pictures of the Week. even just for the $21. the results are marked. the head office and among the customers into Women's Leadership Forum groups.com/s/time/20101203/us_time/09171203091300# Page 6 of 8 . they were told. The result: in the past six months. even if it's a put-on one. were offered training. sales of Old Spice body-wash products have risen 27%. is shown exactly what will be done on a checklist.yahoo. Midas' retooled approach was oddly similar: change the balance of power in the relationship in favor of customers." says Rosenfeldt. He wasn't a celebrity endorsing a product. The Midas Way is now being rolled out to the rest of the U. Each WOLF pack (employees from one area) or WOLF den (employees and sometimes customers from one store) or group of omega WOLFs (customers) was given a specific problem to solve. ironically. Midas' retail sales are up an average 13% since December.The Rise of the Sheconomy . even when talking on the phone. and the auto business is still tough. Louis and got similarly encouraging results. Midas tried the program in St. Gilbert threw it to the WOLFs. more like dentists' offices. including mechanics. how to monetize teen shoppers in the mobile-phone stores (offer cute accessories to customize a phone's look) and what to print on http://news.) While it's still early.99 oil-change-and-tire-rotation special. The company instituted a program called the Midas Way. Employees of Midas stores. with appointments and checkups and lots of explaining.Yahoo! News 5/12/10 8:24 PM he would talk back. "The benchmark for success is. In Philadelphia.S. Most of all. Cautious that it might be a fluke. literally. it personalized the business. to the month that we started this program. he was your friend. make sure every customer who comes in. making Midas stores. They discussed how new stores should look (more like living rooms). The women's input "spawned a whole different way we execute our retail model. Smile. we ask the customer: Would you be able to explain what happened at Midas to your mother?" says Rosenfeldt. when the program was instituted. Over at Best Buy. Using Philadelphia as its pilot city. Let them in on the process. She organized women from the stores. "Some stores completely did a 180.

or hers. they're taking their stories straight to the public. and the media are following them. then they're just going to start running companies from the outside .The Rise of the Sheconomy . But they can often buy change.Yahoo! News 5/12/10 8:24 PM (offer cute accessories to customize a phone's look) and what to print on washing-machine swing tags (less about cubic feet and more about how many sheets it can handle).com/s/time/20101203/us_time/09171203091300# Page 7 of 8 . Midas and Best Buy. "It's translating to significant financial results. letting them see more of the guts of the operation and weigh in on changes. after discovering that steering their business toward women is less like changing the oil and more like reinventing the lightbulb. As Meg Whitman recently proved. They got to present their solutions to company executives. transformed their relationships with their customers.where the money is. Similarly. even with hard data from Pepperdine University. Women and men too . and they didn't hold back. http://news. It's not his money she's spending. See the world's most influential people in the 2010 TIME 100." says Liz Haesler. Catalyst and McKinsey overwhelmingly suggesting that businesses with more women at the top are better off. Gilbert has since left the company to market the WOLF concept to other industries. but Best Buy has kept the program going. the one-way relationship between consumers and the mainstream media has been overturned by social networking. It has proved a stubborn ceiling to crack. Download TIME's iPhone. vice president of home life and trend at Best Buy. If women can't get a place in the corporate inner sanctum. Wives' education and earning power have changed the relationship they have with their family finances as well as their families. it's their money ." (Watch TIME's video "FORTUNE Magazine's 50 Most Powerful Women. dollars can't always buy power.yahoo.don't have to wait for Big Media's attention. "The demand we have for packs and dens and omegas is almost more than we can handle right now.") All this in a business environment in which just 3% of FORTUNE 500 companies are headed up by women and 15. BlackBerry and Android applications.2% of their corporate directors are female.

Yahoo! News 5/12/10 8:24 PM View this article on Time.yahoo.The Rise of the Sheconomy .yahoo.Yahoo! News http://news.com/s/time/20101203/us_time/09171203091300# Page 8 of 8 .com Most Popular on Time.com/experiments/readability http://news.com: Excerpted from The Rise of the Sheconomy .arc90.com/s/time/20101203/us_time/09171203091300 READABILITY — An Arc90 Laboratory Experiment http://lab.