Fresh Marketing Ideas Blog

Women are Beginning to Rule Mobile Technology!

This power is beginning to drive trends in the mobile market and is an audience that marketers will not want to ignore!

Women are a growing category of daily users of mobile technology and are adapting it to fit their lifestyle of work, home and social activities. They also control the purchasing power. While they spend about $5 trillion, which is nearly half of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), they participate in 80% of all household purchases.



From the numbers, women may or not be better communicators, but they are more active users of mobile conversations and texting than their male counterparts (28% vs. 14%). When online, they are more focused than men, spending more time on fewer sites during each session which is a desirable characteristic for advertisers. They are not interested in technology for the sexiness of it, but are more interested in the practical applications they can use which will simplify what they do across the spectrum of career to home, to their social lives.

“This growing segment indicates that women are poised to drive the humanizing of technology… streaming, intuitive, collaborative and connected media are all very suited to women.” Melissa Lavigne-Delville, VP-trends and insights, NBC Universal.

How are women using their smart phones?
While the percentage of use in each of the following areas differs by age group, women generally engage in using email, playing games, searching the web, social networking, personal organization and checking the weather. They are also listening to music, researching nightlife venues, getting directions, reading current events, reading about health/wellness/beauty, watching videos, buying tickets, researching travel, shopping, managing photos and paying bills. (Information from survey conducted by JWT partnered with Ad Age using Sonar research tool, Spring 2011)

What are the most important features to women?
Breaking this down, the top two uses were making mobile calls and texting. These two activities were identified as features they can no longer do without in their daily life. The third most important feature fits in with their family role of taking pictures and creating videos. Over 38% of women identified this feature as most important vs. 27% of men. (JWT survey)

Not surprisingly three of the features which ranked lower in usage (JWT survey) were shopping (11%), watching videos (11%) and paying bills (8%). This is thought to be due to an ongoing security concern about mobile commerce. However, when looking at the category of women in three age groups of Boomers, Gen X’ers and Millennials, a percentage of Millennials (6%) chose shopping online as a must have feature while no one in the other two categories identified this, indicating the quicker adoption by the digital generation and a bright future for mobile purchasing.(See Chart 1)

How are smart phones used by women when shopping?
The JWT research shows that while 22% of women used their cell phones when shopping, they used them in a variety of ways. Just under three quarters (73%) of the women made phone calls seeking input from friends or family concerning the buying decision. The other uses were much higher tech: about 43% used their phones to get more information on the product and /or scanned the product’s bar code, about about 26% consulted a stored shopping list and 20% used their phones to display stored coupons to the store clerks when checking out.(See Chart 2)

What are women buying on Smartphones?
Apps are the most purchased product on the Smartphone by women at 54%. This is followed by games (52%), music (49%), clothing/shoes/accessories (26%), donations to charity (24%), deals via Groupon, etc. (24%), movie/concert tickets (21%), food (19%), flights or travel items (17%).(See Chart 3)

How does mobile technology use differ by age group of women?
The Millennials have grown up with technology and are driving change in growing uses of mobile technology vs. their Boomer counterparts, with the Gen X’ers falling in the middle. About 62% of Millennials vs. 42% of Gen X use their phones to connect to social networks, and 35% of Millennials vs. 23% of GenXers use them for banking and finance. (Parents Network Moms & Media Study) In fact, it is estimated that millennials are 75% more likely to only use a cell phone, and not have access to a land line. (Gfk MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer, Spring 2011)

What are the trends?
In every category the Millennials and Gen Xers are out using their Boomer counterparts with regard to Smartphone use.(See Chart 4)

You can see the developing trend where women are playing a growing role in the use of mobile technology. A couple of thought leaders in the industry had telling comments:

Ann Mack, director of trendspotting at JWT, said “The mobile phone is evolving into an everything hub.”

“They next wave of women and technology is not just about catching up, but setting and influencing trends – from social gaming to group buying and more.” Melissa Lavigne-Delville, VP-trends and insights, NBC Universal.

Chart 1

Chart 2

Chart 3

Chart 4

Data source is Ad Age Insights white paper by Beth Snyder Bulik, “Always On Women,” November 14, 2011.

Copyright © 2013 holland advertising: interactive.