October 20, 2009 / 7:33 PM / 10 years ago

Time-strapped women huge growth market, book says

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tackling the eternal question of what do women want, the authors of a new book have an answer — “Women Want More.” More time and control over their lives, that is.

Women walk through a street in Tokyo August 13, 2008. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

A “revolution of dissatisfaction” is brewing among women, and businesses that understand that women want more time and can market to them will find rich opportunities, say authors Michael Silverstein and Kate Sayre.

The book, based on a survey of more than 12,000 women in 40 countries, says women want products and services that free up their time, and conversely they dislike those that require time.

“Women do not have enough time for themselves, they have too many demands on their time and they have conflicting priorities,” Silverstein said in an interview with Reuters.

“Women Want More: How to Capture Your Share of the World’s Largest, Fastest-Growing Market” is based on findings of a study by The Boston Consulting Group which conducted the survey. The study is ongoing at www.womenspeakworldwide.com.

Among the countries surveyed were the United States, China, India, Germany, Mexico, Iraq, Egypt, Russia and Japan.


Women are becoming better educated as their numbers grow and over the next five years, he said, the number of working women worldwide will grow to 1.2 billion from 1 billion, and they will increase their yearly earnings to as much as $18 trillion from $12 trillion.

“With those increased earnings will come increased power,” said Silverstein. “That will be the greatest force for growth in the world economy. Period.

“Economic power is a force unto itself,” he added. “While there might be resistance, this is inevitable that we have a female economy.”

Companies that already understand women’s desire for more time include Trader Joe’s, headquartered in Monrovia, California, for its time-saving prepared food and Banana Republic, a brand owned by Gap Inc., which has standardized its styles and fits to make clothes shopping simpler and less time-consuming, the authors write.

Opportunities for more companies to benefit from the female market will grow rapidly in the next few years as the so-called female economy grows, Silverstein said.


Women are particularly dissatisfied when it comes to financial services — investments, banking, insurance and credit cards — followed by health care and consumer durables, the book said.

Financial services were found to be among the least sympathetic to women, whose main complaint was advisers and agents who treat women poorly, do not understand women’s needs and do not have their best interests in mind, it said.

Women will be wielding their growing economic clout to spend on goods and services that meet their needs, and they will be turning their backs on those that do not, Silverstein said.

Companies that ignore this do so at their peril, he said.

“If you’re one of the companies that picks this up first, you’ll win in your industry. If you’re one of the companies that picks this up last, you’ll be shaking your head and not knowing what hit you,” he said.

“It’s a female hurricane,” he said.

“Women Want More” is published by Harper Business, an imprint of HarperCollins.

Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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