Fluffing the Market

How finance brands get selling to women wrong and Sheilas' Wheels got it right

Virginia Matthews

The growth in Western markets of dual income families, female entrepreneurship and million-dollar divorce settlements has pushed the 'mega-niche' of women up many marketers' agendas. Yet for financial brands developing women-oriented products and services, advertising campaigns perceived as 'fluffy' or 'pink' are likely to end in tears, unless they aim for kitsch.

In 2007 New York-based Oxygen Media concluded that despite repeated attempts to attract women, the financial community still used the kind of financial jargon that women often loathe. In a report entitled 'Girls Just Wanna Have Funds," Oxygen found that up to 94% of American women felt that financial ads "were not targeted towards them" and there was "a huge opportunity for someone to get it right".

This is a challenge which is only going to increase, according to a raft of demographic and social trends. 

The potential of the female market

Euromonitor's "Girl Power" report claimed women are the main drivers of economic growth in developed markets, reporting that: "In the US, women are said to determine as much as 80% of consumption, purchase 60% of all cars and own 40% of all stocks."

Also in the US, a 2005 Prudential Financial study of more than 1,000 baby boomer women found that 95% were either solely or jointly responsible for IRA retirement plans, up from 61% in 2000. Similar changes were noted for savings accounts.