NEW YORK: Generation Y women are the first “truly global” group of female consumers, perceiving more gender equality than older women, according to a study from FleishmanHillard, Hearst Magazines, and Ipsos MediaCT.
The fifth annual “Women, Power & Money” study examined differences between generations of women. For the first time, it included female consumers from the UK, France, Germany, and China.
It found Gen Y women, ages 21 to 34, perceive more gender equality in skills, opportunities, and accomplishments than older generations. They are also shaped by shared experiences of technology, social media, and emerging brands that transcend borders and cultures, creating a “global Gen Y economy,” according to the study.
Across generations, respondents said brands have an important role to play in purchase decisions but consumers do not have much brand loyalty. Less than a third (32%) believe “all brands are pretty much the same,” according to the study. It found reliability, trust, and customer service are top values for women choosing brands.
There are generational differences in how women relate to types of brands. For example, Baby Boomer women (ages 50 to 69) are most loyal (53%) to beauty brands, Generation X female consumers show most loyalty to personal care brands (51%), and Gen Y women are most faithful to automotive (49%) and technology (45%) companies.
This year's study showed that women are more overwhelmed by options than ever before. It found that 43% agreed with the statement “I'm overwhelmed by all the product choices available these days,” compared with 38% last year.
Having a number of options is driving women to be more price-sensitive when they default to “whatever is on sale,” according to the study.
The finding that women are not loyal to brands and consider new options should be a “warning” to marketers, said Lisa Dimino, SVP and senior partner at Fleishman New York.
“This balance of value and confusion can create a real opportunity for marketers and communications experts to make a clear point of differentiation,” she said.
In all the countries surveyed, women are shifting their priorities and concerns from personal finance to long-term matters such as family and business.
US women saw the largest drop in economic anxiety, down 11 points from last year's survey. They named “the future of their children” as a top concern. The study also found that while women were satisfied with their homes, families, and selves, this level of happiness was lower for women of Generations X and Y compared with women from the Baby Boomer generation.
Generation Y women also say they have greater gender equality in sills, opportunities, and accomplishments than older generations. In the US, 70% of Gen Y women describe themselves as smart, compared with 54% of men. Sixty-three percent of Generation X women said they are smart, compared with 55% of men. That gender gap disappears with the Baby Boomer generation, with both 57% of women and men describing themselves as smart.
However, while Generation Y women describe themselves as knowledgeable and successful, they also say they are stressed and exhausted. This means brands looking to connect with young women must speak to their confidence, concerns, aspirations, and anxieties, according to the study.
Stephen Kraus, SVP and chief insights officer at Ipsos MediaCT's audience measurement group, added that “Gen Y women around the world are sharing a very formative experience.”
“They have access to media technology, the internet, mobile, social media, and grow up with the cultural narrative that ‘girls can do anything boys can do,'” he says.
The study was based on an online survey of 1,008 US women ages 25 to 69 with an annual household income of $25,000 or more conducted in February. It was also based on interviews with 750 women in countries new to the survey, including the UK, France, Germany, and China. For comparison purposes, 503 men were also surveyed.