Women are worth €1,400 billion, a figure set to swell to €2,000 billion by 2008. Long acknowledged as a powerful consumer force, a new study from Datamonitor suggests that the modern perception of women provides new growth opportunities for food manufacturers.
An educated bunch, in the EU more women than men are taking advantage of tertiary education - with the express aim of boosting their earning power. Only in the UK does the percentage of 25-29 year old men with a degree outnumber female graduates in the same age group, but more women than men are training as accountants and lawyers - precisely because of their higher income, writes the report.
According to Datamonitor, these changes create a large body of educated, ambitious women who have made significant investments in education and are looking to capitalise on them in terms of both earnings and quality of life.
The number of women in Europe and the US will grow only slightly over the next five years - but there will be significant changes between countries and diversity between age groups. In Italy and Spain, the general trend of an ageing population is particularly marked among women - under-35s will decline by up to 3 per cent per year, while over 35s will increase the same amount, leading to a very top-heavy population.
With the advent of higher earning power, more and more women are also choosing to delay both marriage and childbirth. Women are staying single for longer, with the result that for many the twenties and early thirties have become the 'Freedom Years' offering independence and self-sufficiency.
This results in a lifestyle which puts a high value on having fun, looking good, close friendships, stimulation and indulgence. Alcohol consumption by young women, for example, has increased noticeably in recent years. Twenty per cent of women aged 16-24 are drinking over 14 units per week compared to 11 per cent in the late eighties, according to Eurocare.
A fact, women are starting families later - so in the future, children will not leave the nest until their parents are in their fifties. Women who find that their independence has been regained only as they become officially 'senior' are going to rebel against this stricture and try to live as young and active a lifestyle as possible for as long as possible, claims the report. This will mean a focus not only on looking younger through cosmetics, but also on staying healthy through better diets.
Marketers will have to adopt a changed attitude to marketing to these women - it will have to be inclusive, positive and focus on indulgence, enjoyment and lust for life.
The report concludes that women value time more than any other resource, including money. CPG players can really benefit women by saving them time through, for example, convenience food and pre-prepared ingredients.