She's 39, married. Has a 12 year-old daughter. She lives in the suburbs of a medium-sized city and commutes 25 minutes to the call center she works in. She went to college for a few years, but never graduated. She and her husband bought their house together almost 10 years ago. They make $48,000 annually and spend $1200 of it on fun gadgets and technology. They go on a week-long vacation every summer. Jenny makes weekly and seasonal purchases for herself, her daughter and her husband. She's the primary shopper and controller of the family checkbook.
She likes to read best sellers. Is close with her sister. Has a few friends, but would like to have more. She goes to church on Sundays and watches TV at night. She wishes she had more free time.
Jenny is America's average consumer.
Here, my fellow advertisers, is why I bring this up:
I was recently at a download session for a new business pitch. The potential client invited four agencies to learn about their marketing & business environment, customers and history.
My boss, our CCO and I attended, along with 2 or 3 heavy hitters from each of the other agencies.
The client brought a variety of brand managers from their side. And, I couldn't help but quickly notice something:
In the room overall:
11 men, 5 women.
From the agencies:
9 men, 1 woman (me.)
I've* actually noticed this in a number of pitch processes and I'm always struck by the fact that there are so few women at the senior, strategic level of advertising. Despite the fact that the majority of consumer purchases are made by women** and - to all appearances - the plurality of corporate marketers are women.
So, here are my questions to the community:
- Do you think there's any understanding of the customer lost / simplified / overlooked by such a low representation of the primary buying gender in top-level advertising? (Or: Could it lead to a more accurate portrayal by avoiding the "focus group of one" phenomena?)
- Do you think there is a new business strategic advantage for an agency that does have women in leadership?
- Where do all the women go? The entry level positions in advertising seem to be flooded with them ... but, they rarely make it to the executive suite.
*The agency I work for has a number of women who attend most pitches - one of our VPs, two of our management supervisors, our director of account planning and our online media planner are frequently involved in new business
**I assume that the "80% of consumer purchases are made by women" statistic that is so often referenced is inaccurate for one key reason: it's reflective of a 100 year period. Many decades of which, women didn't work in any notable numbers & thus would naturally be the runners of all household errands. Nonetheless, there is much evidence to indicate that purchasing is heavily weighted toward women consumers - as both end purchasers and gatekeepers.