American Woman: The Purchasing Powerhouse

The phrase “emerging market” is typically used in reference to a place. Associated terms like BRIC, 3G, and Next Eleven all reference up-and-coming countries. But business leaders might do better by thinking less about “where” and more about “whom” when it comes to exploring new market opportunities.

Today, women are, far and away, the most powerful emerging market on Earth. Global estimates predict women’s incomes will reach $18 trillion by 2018, and they are poised to control 75 percent of global discretionary spending.

Despite these impressive statistics, women face many challenges to harnessing the full extent of their purchasing power. More than 40 percent of women in America are non-participants in the labor force, which means their spending power is tied to a partner or other sources of income. Furthermore, women in the workforce often face unique challenges related to work-life-family balance. Finally, the wage gap continues to artificially deflate the amount of purchasing power women should have.

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