Women are now the world’s most powerful consumers, driving up to 85 percent of purchasing decisions. Six key demographic trends are redefining traditional gender perceptions, values and lifestyles, and shaping today’s marketing landscape.

According to studies by members of the Association of National Advertisers, brand reputations and purchasing intent improve significantly among all consumers when advertisements and media portray women authentically. Yet only a fraction of ads reflect women’s actual demographics according to an analysis by global brands participating in the Unstereotype Alliance. Six demographic trends explain why American values, lifestyles and gender perceptions are changing.

Six Demographic Trends Redefine Gender Perceptions, Values and Lifestyles

Seismic shifts in demographics over the past 50 years have made Americans heterogeneous. Our society is more diverse and educated than at any time in history, with nearly equal numbers of minorities, women and men forming both the U.S. population and workforce. According to population studies by demographers at the Pew Research Center:

Americans are Diverse: Women represent 51 percent of the American population, Millennials (born 1981 to 1996) are the largest consumer population and Generation Z (born 1996 to 2014) is the most highly educated and ethnically diverse generation in U.S. history — 43 percent of Millennials and 48 percent of the Gen Z population are non-white, and more than half of all babies born since 2013 represent a racial or ethnic minority group

Women Value Education: Women have represented over half of the college-educated adults in the U.S. for over four decades, and earn the majority of bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees each year according to the National Center for Education.

Most Professionals are Women: As of 2017, women over the age of 25 accounted for more than half of the college-educated workforce according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and women represent about 47 percent of the total U.S. labor force.

Incomes are Rising And Women Influence Most Purchases: U.S. household incomes are nearing the highest level in the last 50 years, mainly due to dual-incomes. While pay equity remains an issue, women’s hourly earnings have been steadily rising due to specialized skills and advanced education.

  • Women influence 85 percent of purchases, and buy 92 percent of vacations, 91 percent of new homes and 65 percent of new cars.
  • Women ages 45-54 have the most disposable income.
  • Female Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) have a net worth of $19 trillion and control 76 percent of the nation’s financial wealth and investments.
  • Millennials are the largest adult population, represent the majority of the workforce, and earn more than other generations, but have the lowest net worth due to student loans and debt. Their purchases are influenced by online research and recommendations from their networks.

American Families are Changing: Half of adults in the US are married, compared to 72 percent in 1968. Most women wait until later in life to get married and have children.

  • The number of single-parent households has doubled since the 1980s, and women are the sole or primary breadwinners in more than 40 percent of households with children.
  • Public opinion on same sex marriage has reversed, 61 percent of Americans now support same-sex marriage, while 31 percent oppose it.
  • Multi-generational households are a growing trend among all ethnic groups and age groups. About 12 percent of parents with children under 18 also care for an elderly adult, and it’s becoming more common for young adults to live with their parents into their mid 30s.

Most Mothers Work and More Fathers Share Domestic Responsibilities: About 86 percent of women have children by the time they reach their mid-40s:

  • About 70 percent of mothers with children under 18 work according to the US. Department of Labor.
  • More fathers are sharing responsibilities for home and family care, but child care is still more likely to be the mother’s primary responsibility.

One in five parents stays at home to care for children, however, 17 percent of these caretakers are now stay-at-home fathers, up from 10 percent in 1989.


Consumer Insights Build Stronger Connections with Women

Demographics are useful to understand the marketing landscape, and qualitative and quantitative market research empowers businesses and brands to build stronger connections with women. Marketers are able to optimize marketing strategies, product design and messaging when they understand their female consumers’ values, lifestyles, habits, personality traits and purchasing behavior.

Insights In Marketing is the marketing research firm that delivers in-depth and actionable insights so you can have every confidence your decisions are inspired by the consumer voice. Our team has decades of client and supplier side research experience, and our marketing expertise spans across various industries and consumer segments.