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What Do Women Want?
The increase in the number of women-headed households and the increase in the number of households in which women share financial responsibilities make women a very attractive target for financial institutions. What do women want? In general, women are less likely than men to want a C-suite-level position or to make more money than they need to live very well and are more likely than men to look for financial security, a comfortable family life, and social justice. In a comparison of financial attitudes between women and men, some responses vary. For example, women (36%) are less likely than men (43%) to mostly agree that their spending habits have not changed much in the past two years; women (21%) are more likely than men (16%) to mostly agree that their financial institution has their best interest in mind when offering products and services. However, for the majority of attitudes, no real differences exist between women's and men's responses: 30% of women and 29% of men prefer to do most of their financial business in person, and 31% versus 29% report that saving money for use in the distant future is a very important financial need.
The answer to the question What do women want? depends on which women you talk to—not all women are the same. Although gender and other demographics such as age, income, education, and life stage are frequently in use to differentiate women, they have limited utility when developing communications strategy. For marketing purposes, attitude differences may, in fact, be misleading—individual groups may hold the same attitudes that other groups hold but for different reasons. SBI's VALS™ captures the underlying drivers that explain consumer attitudes and behaviors. VALS employs a specially designed survey (integrated into MacroMonitor studies) and a proprietary algorithm to place individuals into one of eight consumer groups.
To illustrate the impact of differences in underlying drivers, we look at women who prefer to do most of their financial business in person (30%). Only 14% of Achievers and 15% of Innovators prefer face-to-face interactions. However, Achievers and Innovators women resist such interactions for different reasons. Busy Achievers women want to conduct financial business on their own schedules, not on yours. Innovators women don't want to waste time in more meetings; they have more interesting activities on which to spend their time.
Another example of differences between two segments of women who hold the same attitude for different reasons is Experiencers and Survivors. Surprisingly, 35% of Experiencers women, the majority of whom are starting down life's path, prefer to conduct most of their financial business in person. One might assume that internet-savvy young adults would prefer to conduct business online—until one realizes that to Experiencers, "financial business" includes the use of digital payment for purchases. Survivors women (41%) want to interact with people they know and trust—doing so is an important part of the social fabric of their lives.
Learning more about the differences in the financial characteristics of the eight VALS consumer groups and how to interpret the reasons behind their attitudes and behaviors is critical to financial providers looking for an edge in marketing and selling to specific consumers.
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