Will the Real Consumer of the 80’s Please Stand Up?

Forget everything you’ve read about Yuppies and other and other new breeds of consumers. A far more important new consumer has arrived on the marketing scene. This consumer is 18-49 years old, career-minded, and female. Welcome the upscale working woman of the ’80’s.

This new consumer can spend money with the best of them. According to figures quoted in Adweek, women are spending as much money as their male counterparts in many areas. In fact, the career-mined woman spends the same amount of money as her male counterpart on automobile purchases. And she provides the travel industry with 36% of its business travel, a figure that is expected to reach 50% by 1990. Women also account for 40% of all stereo speaker purchases, 24% of all cassette deck purchases, and 18% of all VCR purchases. Women consumers spent $20 billion on alcoholic beverages last year. Certainly, the numbers speak for themselves.

Most marketers are just beginning to realize the profit potential of this lucrative and somewhat complex new market. It is said that those who have failed to recognize the new consumer will eventually have to wake up and open their eyes or experience diminished sales.

When targeting the new consumer, marketers must keep in mind the complexity of the group. The new ’80’s consumer can be categorized as the “achiever,” who, like her make counterpart, is oriented toward recognition, material success, and optimal use of time and money. But according to Dr. Therese Tricamo of SRI, International, “only half of the upscale women are achievers. The other half, those we describe as ‘socially conscious,’ evaluate products by their results. They’re oriented toward a good value for the money, not necessarily the best that money can buy.”

Advertisers are learning, though, that both groups do have one thing in common:  sensitivity towards being targeted as the female consumer. The ’80’s woman wants to be treated as male counterpart in the marketplace. After all, women purchase products for the same reasons men do. Women, too, buy sports cars for the image, luxury cars for the status.

One problem marketers are encountering is how to target the new consumer. Media research reveals that, of all media, television is definitely the least effective means of reaching career women. Print, on the other hand, is regarded as the most effective medium through which to reach this audience. However, outdoor advertising is quickly becoming as important as print with approximately the same delivery index level as print. The reason for outdoor’s increasing popularity? More and more career women drive to and from work and also to restaurants and leisure activities.

One thing seems to be certain. The gap between traditional women’s advertising and men’s advertising is narrowing as women cross over into what was once “Men Only” territory. Effective ’80’s advertising must be savvy enough to adapt to this drastic change in the marketplace.



Penny Ohlmann Neimann

The Ohlmann Group has a rich history that began in Dayton, Ohio in 1949, where the agency was founded as Penny and Penny by Bob Penny and his wife Jean. In 1964, Walter Ohlmann joined the firm. Ralph Neiman came on in 1969 and the firm became Penny/Ohlmann/Neiman. In 2011, P/O/N was renamed The Ohlmann Group to better reflect the agency's ongoing evolution and collaborative nature.

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