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A couple of interesting stories popped up regarding women and the economic power that they wield.

BrandWeek has a piece noting that a new study by an organization called M2Moms suggests that “60 percent of moms feel that marketers are ignoring their needs, and 73 percent feel that advertisers don't really understand what it's like to be a mom.”

Here are a couple of interesting paragraphs from the story:

• “As CEOs of their households, Power Moms wield more influence than ever before: moms control 85 percent of household spending, and are worth more than $2 trillion to U.S. brands, as reported by the Marketing to Moms Coalition. Most moms work. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 1965, about 45 percent of women with children (under 18) were employed; by 2000, over 78 percent were. Whether they work out of the home, telecommute, or run a business from the home, media technology and the Internet have become a true enabler.”

• “Nielsen reports that moms between the ages of 25-54 who have at least one child under the age of 18 within the home represent roughly 19 percent of the total online population. And they are not passive observers online. Rather, Power Moms leverage their megaphones to influence online purchase decisions. Considering the expansion in ecommerce for foods, beauty and household products -- which is projected to grow to $12 billion in 2011 -- effectively reaching moms has real bottom-line implication.”

The problem, as identified by BrandWeek and numerous consultancies that focus on this segment of the population, is that moms are a heterogeneous group – their actions and interests and passions differ wildly depending on age, ethnicity, number of children, type of employment, etc… So talking to them as if they are all are the same actually does a lot more than miss the target; it creates the impression – often accurately – that marketers are doing too much talking and not enough listening.

BrandWeek writes, “One of the more fundamental shifts that marketers might pursue is to overhaul their worldview of marketing to moms. It's a nuanced point, but it is time to move away from developing ‘messaging’ to integrating ‘listening’. Listening to online discussion acts as an ultra sensitive weathervane to hear the unexpected, the unprompted and to observe entirely new ways in which brands, categories and unmet needs may be expressed.”

Meanwhile, there is an interesting column on HuffingtonPost.com by Claire Shipman (of ABC News) and Katty Kay of the BBC) in which they suggest that women are, in fact, benefitting from the current economic upheaval.

An excerpt:

“America is on the verge of the biggest workplace revolution since the Second World War. Back then, women were ushered into the work force in vast, unprecedented numbers. And they stayed. Now a different national crisis is set to remake the labor force. In a new and dramatic fashion.

“We call this seismic shift Womenomics: the emergence of a new workforce dynamic that is giving women the power to tailor their work lives to better suit their needs. It is a revolution that will allow us to live and work the way we've always wanted.

“We have enormous professional clout today. Clout that most women don't even know about. Survey after survey from California to Norway shows that women are not only good for business, but that companies that employ more senior women actually make more money. Call it Pink Profits. The female management style is seen as distinct—and even better. We're more inclusive, more focused on long-term results and more risk averse.”

Shipman and Kay reiterate a point that has been made elsewhere – that men are losing their jobs in the current downturn faster than women are, and that “any day now we will make up a majority in the U.S. labor market.” This gives them enormous economic clout as consumers, and the women who run companies selling products to consumers will be in a far better position than their male peers to understand what to sell them and to sell it.

They write, “As Harvard Business School discovered a few years ago, when women are faced with the agonizing choice between career and kids, the children tend to win. But in a Womenomics world, we don't have to make that choice anymore. We now have so much clout in the marketplace that we're not prepared to sit meekly at the boardroom table anymore. We're rebuilding that table and making it more female friendly.

“All across America professional women are carving out work lives that really suit them. Lives where they have time for children, elderly parents, pets, marathons or just themselves. Four out of five of us say we want more flexibility at work. More and more of us want less responsibility. We no longer see our careers as ladders but as waves. We are asking for -- and for the first time, in big numbers, we are getting -- the right to dial our careers down and dial them back up, according to our needs.”

Recession, they argue, is speeding this shift: “Companies that can no longer reward employees with hefty bonuses, or even any additional cash at all, are looking for more creative ways to hang on to valuable talent. Women, the majority of whom will trade status and dollars for time, are suddenly finding their employers more receptive to alternative work schedules than they were during boom times. And so women are doubly desirable employees now, because not only is our work valued, but our values make us more flexible to strapped employers. Since time is our critical currency, since we're often looking beyond money alone, we can help employers ride out the crises while reaping benefits ourselves … these moves aren't just a short-term fix. They will usher in efficiencies and productivity boosts that so far, only enlightened companies have benefited from, and that the newcomers won't want to lose.

“The world of Womenomics has arrived. Don't let the gloomy economic headlines frighten you. It's a terrific time to be a professional woman.”

KC's View:
First, a message to the guys reading this piece:

We are sooooo screwed…

Okay, I got that off my chest.

Actually, none of this should come as any surprise to any of us. The irony is that women have been telling men for years that they wanted them to be more sensitive…and now, having been largely ignored, they’re simply going to demand it, and we’re not going to have a whole lot of choice in the matter.

If we miss the moment, or get run over in the process, well, to quote a certain troubadour, it’s our own damn fault…

The good news is that if we actually pay attention – something that Mrs. Content Guy and the Content Daughter tell me I do too infrequently – we may actually end up running better businesses, being better employers, and even (gasp!) being better people. (Not that all women are saints and all men are heels. Far from it. Amid all this demographic and trend-shifting talk, we have to be careful not to generalize.)

It’s interesting. When we added Kate McMahon to the MorningNewsBeat roster yesterday with a new column, it was extraordinary how many emails I got – from women - congratulating me for adding a woman’s voice. It never occurred to me that MNB didn’t have one, since roughly half the emails I get and post are from women. (That’s actually sort of amazing, when you think about it.) But they were yearning for at least one of their voices to be part of the regular mix…and I’m glad I got that message, even if it took almost eight years.