The Power of Women Buyers

women buyersThis article first appeared in NAHB’s Sales & Marketing Ideas in January 2012.

In the Deep South, there’s an old saying: “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Perhaps people make similar declarations in other parts of the country, dropping the Southern drawl of course. No matter how you say it, the truth remains: Moms have a lot to do with how everyone is feeling, behaving, and, yes, even spending money.

Just How Much Do Women Spend?

A study in Marketing Sherpa, as reported by www.MediaPost.com, showed that moms spend more then $2.1 trillion each year. That includes 55 percent of spending on consumer electronics and 51 percent of food purchases in the U.S.

But it’s not just women who are moms. According to DM News, also reported by www.MediaPost.com, women are influencing as much as 85 percent of household purchases this year. An Ad Age article in 2009 attributed women’s influence to more than 73 percent of household spending, or $4.3 trillion in the U.S.

Some of that spending is reflected in home purchases. Study results vary, but it’s safe to say that more than 90 percent of home purchase decisions are made or heavily influenced by women.

In many cases, the woman is convincing the man and children of the family of her preferred option (have you witnessed those negotiations on HGTV’s House Hunters before?). In an increasing number of scenarios, the woman is making the decision on her own. According to the 2010 National Association of REALTORS®, 20 percent of all home buyers are single women, while single men comprise only 12 percent of homebuyers.

As with all things real estate, the phenomenon varies by local market. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2010 reported that the majority of homes in Allegheny County have been bought by singles each year since 2006, a percentage that’s much higher than the national average. Other area counties are showing a similar trend.

How Much Time Do Women Spend Online?

Whether women are the primary purchasers or the primary influencers, home builders can’t afford to ignore them. If you want to reach them, you need to go where they are. Increasingly, that’s online. According to the June 2010 UNICast What Women Want from the Web Report, 64 percent of women look for sales and price comparisons online, whether for big or small items. Researchers note that women like to educate themselves on the items they’re purchasing by exploring the Internet.

Women also spend time using social media. Let’s look at moms again. About one-fifth of them like to blog, and 79 percent use social media sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, with 43 percent using social media daily.

What do they do there? They are more likely than men to post photos, videos and even status updates. They also use the sites to get advice. Women trust other women, especially moms. A study by Child’s Play Communications found that one-quarter of moms made a purchase based on a blog or social networking recommendation.

And Just How Much Do Women Save?

Perhaps one of the reasons women like to get recommendations from friends and search price comparisons online is that shopping can be as much about how much they save as it is about how much they spend. Have you noticed the number of department store or grocery clerks who will circle a number on your receipt and tell you how much you saved as you put away your wallet? Have you ever called someone to tell them about the good deal you just found?

Perhaps the urge to find savings is why many women find online ads promoting products distracting, but they find coupons, sales promotion codes and other incentives to be relevant. A recent study by Burst Media entitled “What Mom Likes Online” found that moms particularly will click to get coupons online – 45% of moms age 8-34, 55% moms age 35-54 and 52% of those age 55 and older.

But I’m Selling Homes, Not Groceries

You can still use social media to reach powerful women buyers.

On Facebook and other social media sites, many types of businesses are embracing the consumer desire for “free” or “reduced.” Corporations as varied as The Home Depot, Outback Steakhouse and Starbucks have offered incentives to people who “like” their pages. And, these savvy corporations are collecting consumer data and building email lists while getting women (and men) to sign up for their incentives.

When consumers “like” a Facebook page, the business has the opportunity to send them messages, including price incentives, and to engage them in conversation. Women are loyal, and if they’re receiving useful, thoughtful and/or inspirational messages from your business each week, they’ll remember.

S&A Homes, based in State College, Penn., used both couponing and useful messaging through their social media campaign, “Operation Organize Simplify.” Focusing on important issues for women – saving time by organizing your home and simplifying your life – the campaign targeted real estate agents and women homebuyers.

For agents, the builder asked for online responses in which the agent described an organizational element for a home, perhaps one she had seen in the many homes she had visited in her work. For her effort, she would have a chance to win a $150 Home Depot Gift Card and an additional $500 at her next S&A Homes closing.

Though the program didn’t specify that entrants must be women, no men participated. Many agents took the opportunity to show off some of their knowledge of desirable home organizational features, with most focusing on the mudroom or kitchen. Meanwhile, S&A Homes made memorable connections.

For homebuyers, S&A Homes used corporate blog posts provided information to help homeowners organize their homes and lives. Topics included charging stations, drop zones, kitchens, laundry rooms and mud rooms. Even organization of the garage, a typical “man space,” was addressed in the series. Each blog post linked prospective homebuyers to a downloadable coupon on the S&A Homes Facebook page. Six of the coupons were redeemed in 45 days, each worth $1,500 off of organization upgrades with the purchase of a home.

You might want to read that again. With a little help from social media, at least six buyers invested in an S&A Home within a six week period, and all six of them also spent money on upgrades. During an economic downturn. That made S&A Homes happy.

Reaching Out to Powerful Women Buyers

You may not be able to offer a coupon or discount with each Tweet or Facebook update, but there are some things you should remember if you want to keep women from unfollowing, unfriending or clicking on the dreaded “Hide” button next to your Facebook status. Here are a few tips:

  • Be a resource. S&A Homes posted blogs that would provide valuable, practical ideas for readers. Internet users look for tips and how-to’s frequently. What value can you provide?
  • Create a connection. Engage. Invite your readers to post their own tips, share photos of their homes, remember a feel-good story about their childhood home, or vote in a survey.
  • Be responsive. Listen to what people are saying on your social media sites. If there’s a problem, address it and be honest about it. Even if you handle a public complaint privately, you will want to acknowledge it on the original forum so other customers will know you are responsive.
  • Tell people about your company’s favorite charity. Research shows that consumers will support companies and products that support a cause. Plus, if you raise funds and awareness about the charity you support, you’re, well, supporting your favorite charity. Everybody wins.

So, are you making Momma happy through your marketing efforts? If you ain’t, er, aren’t, then research shows your online presence may be the best place to start. Help her spend. Help her interact online. Help her save. At the closing table, everyone will be happy.

For more information on marketing to women, contact me!

Carol Flammer, Managing Partner
mRELEVANCE, LLC
carol (at) mRELEVANCE.com
770-383-3360

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One Response to The Power of Women Buyers

  1. Pingback: Atlanta PWB She-Conomy Event To Focus on What Women Want in a Home | Atlanta Real Estate Forum

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