No longer a man’s world . . . the rise of the female B2B economy by Jon Hansen

Posted on June 26, 2014


“This is a mans world, This is a mans world, But it would be nothing,nothing Without a women or a girl”

According to a recent AT Kearney study titled The Rise of the Female Economy in B2B, the role of women as the chief decision maker in the home has now extended to the virtual realms of the B2B world.

While there is still much to learn as it relates to the actual level of influence women have in terms of purchasing decisions from an entrepreneur or senior executive perspective, the Kearney study nonetheless stresses that companies (and countries) who fail to both recognize and capitalize on this trend do so at their own peril.

Citing statistics such as one third of all managers, directors and senior officials being women, and that in areas such as labor force presence and higher education degree attainment, women represent the majority, one could assume that the strength in numbers rule applies.

The hand that rocks the B2B cradle?

Accepting that these numbers are in fact accurate – which based upon corresponding research indicates that they are – what does this mean relative to way that business will be done in the near future.

Especially given the fact that studies show that women and men make purchasing decisions differently?

The answer . . . it depends on the industry.

AT Kearney Female Economy

While the majority of companies in all industries have not done enough to tap into the female economy, certain industries such as manufacturing and construction are much further ahead in their ability to adapt to what has been called the advent of the female customer decision-maker.

This means that they have been more proficient at recognizing the differences between how women make buying decisions as opposed to men, and as a result are well positioned to respond to the shift in gender influence. Specifically, they have changed their sales and marketing approach to focus more on several key areas of connecting including:

  • a greater emphasis on building rapport and trust i.e. the know, like and trust axiom
  • an understanding that it is about the journey and not just the end result
  • a willingness to view the decision-making process from the standpoint of multiple stakeholders as opposed to a one-to-one interaction
  • placing greater emphasis on service capabilities as a means of demonstrating how potential problems in the future will be addressed

The above differs from men in that rather than being ritualistic and somewhat utilitarian, women tend to think outside of the familiar box relative to the decision-making process. Or as the Kearney report put it, women are likely to feel less “constrained by rules, regulations” and the “traditional ways of doing business.”

Of course, and based on the response to my post Are women really better at negotiating than men, I can only wonder if I will be chided for suggesting that women make buying decisions differently from men, let alone writing about the emergence of the female B2B economy.

In this case I am of course as much the messenger as I am the author, and you know what they say about the messenger . . .


Posted in: B2B, Commentary