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The Power of the Modern Purse

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Yes, women are responsible for 85 percent of consumer purchases. But do we really understand who the 21st-century woman is and how marketers can best connect with her?

The "Women at NBCU" advisory board -- a group of 25 high-ranking female executives across numerous industries -- recently gathered to address this very question. The discussion was largely based on findings from Maria Shriver's landmark women's study, "A Woman's Nation," which she presented at the meeting, as well as a new report from Women at NBCU and GfK Roper, "The Female Factor," about women's changing economic power.

These studies revealed that women have more power and influence than ever before. Women and mothers are now a major component of the workforce, signaling the largest cultural change of our time, and many are also the breadwinners in their households.

At the same time, women are still viewed as the primary caretakers for their children and often bear chief responsibility for their elderly parents. In other words, women are doing it all.

Here are some key points of advice from the Women at NBCU board on how to effectively market to women.

Talk to women as individuals: Market to women differently than men, but keep in mind that not all women are the same. Marketers need to acknowledge and speak to the different segments of women that exist in society and link their products to the lifestyle relevant to those segments.

Give women the chance to connect more with themselves and their well-being: Women have so much on their plates, caring for their kids, their job and extended families that they rarely ever stop to think about themselves -- though they know they should.

Know your best customer: Recognize how multicultural the country has become. For example, 42 percent of women 18-34 in the U.S. are Hispanic.  Marketers need to be aware of women's customs, needs and passions, which can vary greatly, depending on ethnicity.

Women don't want to be talked down to or reminded how busy they are: A company's message should transcend the everyday grind and connect to their thought process on a deeper level.

Don't pigeonhole women: Give women options and let them decide what they want to get out of it -- whether it's a product, a service or an experience. There are some things very typical to women, but they don't want to feel like they are relegated to just one category.

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