Young Women: Consumption

For the third part of the LHBS series about young women, we have focused on consumption. While their purchasing power has diminished when compared to older generations, the sheer size of this consumer group is responsible for large­-scale shifts in culture and consumption, and it is therefore imperative to describe how young women’s attitudes have evolved from previous generations.

Today, young women are active, informed consumers who rely on their network for feedback and advice when seeking products and services that suit their needs. Therefore, it’s no longer enough to provide products and services to young people; @@brands must be partners in building lifestyles and personas out of authentic experiences.@@

Such mutual relationships are facilitated by technology and social media, which have a major influence on spending habits, cultural values, and consumer expectations. This active, meaningful consumption is also one of the roots of the demographic’s inclination towards Do-­It-Yourself (DIY), which brands are now engaging with in order to help young women become co-creators.

 

FINDINGS

TRY NOT BUY

Sharing is the new having: 68% of young adults believe we would have a better society if people shared more and owned less

Young women are increasingly living through experiences rather than possessions, so much that usership is the new ownership, and sharing is the new having. It is an on-demand generation, less likely to make big investments in cars and houses, and more likely to expect immediate– but high quality– consumable experiences.

 

SEARCH AND CONFIRM RESEARCH

87% said they trust the products only after doing their own research involving crowdsourcing with peers.

Always connected, young women are informed consumers who often combine brick ­and­ mortar shopping with online research, price checking as they browse the aisles, smartphone in hand. They are more likely to research brands and products online before they buy, which makes them not only more conscious of price differences but also differences in quality. 

 

MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS

95% of millennial women said that a brand should "adapt to my needs."

As we have found in our previous reports, young women seek authenticity in their friends, in the companies they work for, as well as media and entertainment– so it is no surprise that it is also

sought out when it comes to consumption. They want to build meaningful, authentic relationships with brands rather than simply be sold products– relationships which positively impact on their collective well­being. On the topic of Meaningful Relationships, LHBS has released a three­-part series:

Yearning to Discover Reality

As You Like It

Consumer Protagonists

 

GOOD BRANDS

76% of global consumers think progress is not about consuming more but consuming better. 

Young women want to see their values reflected in the brands they consume.  Since they want to change the world for the better, they want to have relationships with brands that want that change too. Social responsibility, then, becomes a key factor for young women’s approval of brands. They prioritize firms who give back through social programs and charities, as well as those who prioritize environmental causes like sustainability.

 

ACTIVE CONSUMPTION

When deciding between two brands young people first choice was “It has a solid reputation and reflects positively on me,” followed closely by “It listens to me, asks my opinion and takes my views into consideration.”

As young women are looking more towards “what a brand says about me,” brands should now serve the strong sense of individualism rather than dominating. As active consumers, young women are finding a more equal balance of power between themselves and brands, with many feeling they have the power to help a brand succeed or fail. Many even have the urge to have an active influence on the brands products.

 

CRAFTSMANSHIP & DIY

“There are 29 billion reasons you should care about the DIY industry. No, that’s not Etsy’s page views over the course of a year (close, that would be 18 billion). It’s the estimated market size of the crafting industry.”

Young women are looking for manufacturers that offer quality, sustainability, and integrity. But they also want the personal touch. Or they do it themselves. The rise of  (DIY) and artisanal products can be seen in the rise of platforms like Etsy and Pinterest, as these sites promote the Do-­It-­Yourself ethos as well cater to young women’s inclination towards self-curation and craft. With the rise of the Maker movement, brands are helping young women not only do DIY but Do-It-­Together.

 

IMPLICATIONS

Using some of the latest consumer research as well as signs from our Inspiration-­Hub, a digital platform which continually tracks changes in culture, markets and technology, we would like to offer several implications for brands and businesses looking to create better consumer relationships with young women today.

 

1. GO GOOD OR GO HOME

As Nielsen has found in a global study that 55 percent say they are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact, being a Good Brand has a lot of power and potential when it comes to engaging young women as loyal, active consumers.

  • Sustainability has long been appealing to environmentally conscious consumers, but it also can be leveraged as a key factor in driving a brand into the future. Patagonia’s "Worn Wear" repair van engages with loyal consumers and rejuvenates Patagonia clothes to a better-than-new state, an approach that is sustainable. Meanwhile, Pharrell is collaborating with G­Star for a line of jeans made exclusively from repurposed plastic that has polluted the ocean.
  • JetBlue’s Fly It Forward campaign that awards tickets to humanitarian passengers, allowing them to pass them on to people in need. The campaign also featured  “causevertising” which spotlighted several individuals that inspired the campaign.
  • Brands are changing some of their manufacturing processes to not only be more sustainable, but also considerate of factory conditions. The slow fashion movement is urging retailers to reconsider the sometimes harsh realities of global supply chains.

 

2. MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS

As Havas’s 2015 Meaningful Brands study has pointed out, millennial consumers value brands that provide them with not only products, but also meaningful experiences that provide fulfillment and add a sense of purpose to their lives. This meaning is created through authentic, meaningful brand communication that young women can not only believe in and trust, but actually creates a tangible way of improving their lives and those they care about.

  • Nike has been a leader in creating meaningful relationships with its consumers, especially young women. Recent campaigns such as #betterforit and Chase Summer emphasize connecting and empowering women through communication that explicitly relates to their realities. The brand also launched a Food Truck to mark the Nike Women’s 10k Run in Berlin, allowing women who participate to meet up at a local street market and pay with kilometers from their fitness tracker for an ultra­ healthy selection of raw foods.

 

3. SHARING IS THE NEW HAVING

In the time of Peak Car, the emergence of the Sharing Economy taking over many industries reflects young consumers prioritizing social value and products and services that help them to interact with their peers. In this experience economy, ownership is being replaced by usership: value is shifting from showing to doing. In turn, brands are engaging with consumers on sharing platforms, and even creating their own to facilitate young consumers’ tendency to share the value of their consumption.

  • Brands are partnering with sharing economy services to make their products more shareable, such as Spotify’s recent partnership with Uber, which turns Spotify users into backseat DJs, sharing their music with those they share rides with.
  • Brands are giving us tools to share and communicate with their products: prime examples being Foot Locker’s Shoemoji app, which lets us communicate with emoji of the shoe retailer’s inventory; nail polish brand OPI’s Color Alphabet app, which assigns a color from their product range to every letter in the alphabet, allowing users to communicate with branded color; and Burger King’s emoji keyboard which was released to celebrate the return of Chicken Fries to their menu, giving familiar emoji faces for fans to send back and forth.

 

4. GENERATION DIY

As young women are the backbone of the DIY culture (or rather, industry, with the crafting market estimated to be worth $29 billion alone), this generation is not only doing things themselves, they are starting a movement. As conscious consumers have become makers, brands are helping young prosumers by providing customizable products and services, or even informative educational content that allows makers to do it themselves.

  • Brands are giving consumers the tools to customize their products themselves. The cosmetic brand Origins is co­-creating with millennials and beauty brand SILK + HONEY has embraced the recent trend of women’s DIY beauty routines and produced a line of customizable, DIY-­friendly beauty products. To further integrate generation's DIY into brand ecosystems, we can see from Nike’s patented virtual reality shoe design that the notion of the prosumer will be taken to the next level through technology that will allow consumers to work with brands in designing products exactly as they want them.
  • Other brands are adapting to provide educational content for generation DIY, such as Time magazine’s The Snug community.

 

 

This report is the third of an ongoing series about young women; the first two parts can be found here:

Young Women: Work and Career

Young Women: Relationships

These three aspects are only a portion of of the extensive research we have done into the major trends, values, and needs of young women today. If you would like to know more about this influential demographic, from insights to opportunities for brands and business, please get in touch.