‘What’s good for women is good for business’

Bridget Brennan will share her best advice gleaned from years of analyzing female consumers.

‘What’s good for women is good for business’

September 2023   minute read

Studying women consumers has become Bridget Brennan’s life’s work.

“Women are the world’s most powerful consumers and the dominant audience for retailers across the globe,” said Brennan. “They are endlessly fascinating and always evolving. I’m excited to help the NACS audience grow sales and customer loyalty by providing the most current marketplace intelligence on this group.”

She added, “Since women drive 70-80% of consumer spending, it’s crucial to understand their perspectives. I always say, ‘If you want to know where the market is going, follow the women.’ Women drive the trends that ultimately go mainstream with all consumers.”

In a preview of her NACS Show address, Brennan said that she will delve into topics such as the power of women’s multiplier effect on sales, why women are the original social network and the demographic shifts impacting women’s buying decisions.

“The audience knows convenience stores,” she said, “and I know women consumers. Together we can make a powerful combination.”

Brennan has dedicated her career to helping businesses understand the complexities of women’s buying patterns and their profound impact on growth. She made the subject her focus after seeing how often women were missing from the leadership teams of the very businesses that market and sell to them. “Early in my career, I witnessed companies launch products and campaigns targeted to women that failed to meet sales expectations, largely because there was no meaningful input from women at any step of the way, from strategy to R&D to product design, packaging and even ad agency creative teams,” she explained. “I thought, if only these companies could see their products and campaigns through the eyes of women, how much easier it would be for them to succeed—and how much happier their customers would be.”

This was the impetus for starting her strategic advisory firm, Female Factor, in 2006. She has since gone on to pen two bestselling books on the subject, “Why She Buys: The New Strategy for Reaching the World’s Most Powerful Consumers” and “Winning Her Business: How to Transform the Customer Experience for the World’s Most Powerful Consumers.” Brennan has worked with clients on nearly every continent, and she is widely considered to be a leading global authority on female consumers.

At the NACS Show, Brennan will share strategies, data and best practices on how to stay relevant with a consumer marketplace dominated by women. What works and what doesn’t? Spoiler alert: “Pink is not a strategy,” she said.

Her solution is for businesses to commit to understanding this consumer group at a deeper level to avoid what she calls the knowing-doing gap. “There’s a big gap between knowing that women are important to your business and doing something meaningful about it,” said Brennan. “Closing this gap provides a powerful competitive advantage and helps avoid the kind of unintentional stereotyping that can date a brand.”

Don’t miss Bridget Brennan’s Super Session Winning Her Business: Grow Sales and Market Share With the World’s Most Powerful Consumers, October 5, 9:15 a.m to 10:15 a.m., at the NACS Show in Atlanta.

On the topic of stereotyping: “Women have multiple aspects to their identities that can sometimes be viewed as contradictory or unexpected,” Brennan said. A woman might be a grandmother and also a senior executive. A young woman might have an extensive makeup collection and also be an accomplished athlete who loves The Lord of the Rings.

“Understanding the lived experience of women and the many roles they play across life stages is what helps businesses connect with this market,” said Brennan. “This is why conducting research and analyzing customer data is so crucial, at whatever scale your business can afford. Too often I see businesses skip the research step with women specifically, and this can put a company at a competitive disadvantage,” said Brennan.

If you haven’t conducted research with women over the last three years, Brennan said that “now would be a great time to start.” Attitudes and behaviors have changed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a topic she will touch on at the NACS Show. Brennan sees fresh consumer research as an area with tremendous potential for retailers as they help customers navigate the post-pandemic world, including what Brennan calls the “hybrid life,” a cultural shift she will discuss during her session.

“When you understand where the cultural shifts are, you stay ahead of the market and you’re not playing catch-up,” she explained. “For example: Where else do your customers love to shop? What are they watching? Who or what are they closely following? How are their career patterns changing? How are their marriage and dating patterns shifting? Understanding cultural influences allows you to predict women’s wants and needs more accurately,” she said.

“Engaging women consumers is not about excluding men, it’s about excluding stereotypes,” Brennan said. “We find that when a business elevates the customer experience for women, it elevates it for everyone. What’s good for women is good for business,” said Brennan.

What does all of this mean for c-store retailers?

Brennan laughed, “You’ll have to come to the NACS Show in October to find out!”