Tuesday, November 25, 2008

American Women Confident in the Face of Economic Gloom

RJ Note: Yep, its tough. Yep, we are spending less. Yep, we are confident. Yep, we are women! We've come a long way---

/PRNewswire/ -- Women are spending less on microwaves, gifts, hobbies, gourmet coffees, video games, and even organic foods than they did just two months ago. And with the holidays approaching, they are about to get stingier still. But despite this stark outlook, fully 95 percent of all American women feel they will "make it" through the recession and 64 percent feel 2009 will find them financially "better off." These are among the findings of a recent study conducted for Fleishman-Hillard International Communications by the Harrison Group.

In "Women, Power & Money - The Shift to the Female-Driven Economy," a survey of more than 1,600 women conducted initially in early September and again in early November 2008, women acknowledged being financially worse off than they were a year ago, but felt sure they would be able to manage. The study is a large-scale, nationally representative survey that codifies the power of women in the marketplace.

In the September study, 79 percent of women stated that their opinion determines family financial decisions, while 91 percent claim to be the manager of their family's quality of life. More than half pay the family bills and about half are the shared or primary breadwinners.

"It's clear from this research that we are now living in a 'mom-ocracy' -- women are setting the agenda," said Nancy Seliger, president, U.S. East region, at Fleishman-Hillard, the global communications firm that commissioned the study. "We believe the most successful marketers will address concerns of the spouse, the children, and even friends of women. When these individuals are well informed, it is easier for women to build consensus within their families."

"These women hold the consumer economy in their hands," said Jim Taylor, Ph.D., vice chairman of the Harrison Group, a marketing and research consulting firm. "Their decisions over the next year will determine the economic health of the country."

The study also examined how women make decisions. For instance, women rank both "articles in magazines and newspapers" and "expert recommendations" as more influential than advertising. Moreover, even as the contemporary American woman controls a greater share than ever of household spending, she leads more by consensus than by decree.

Regarding the near-term economy, the study revealed much more about American women:

-- 79 percent plan to cut back on gift-giving this holiday season
-- 56 percent are spending less than last year eating out
-- 51 percent are spending less than last year on toys and games
-- 49 percent are spending less in November than in September on
-- 50 percent are spending less in November than in September on shoes,
handbags, and accessories
-- 86 percent are delaying purchases until items go on sale

"Retailers may look at these numbers and cringe," said Seliger. "But family level cost controls give women confidence they will be able to manage through these tough times."

Women in the study acknowledged there will be some stress in charting their courses over the coming months, but they have strategies in place to cope with that as well. The majority plan to spend more time with friends and family, exercise and eat healthier.

The margin for error in the master survey is plus or minus 2 percent, and in the November survey the margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent.

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