Why Women Matter to Industry Research
The ideas about what truly matters to the success of a business are as varied as businesses themselves. However, amid all of the conflicting ideas regarding how to make an organization truly stand out, industry research remains a foundational method of achieving success.
Truly, business owners are only able to succeed when they are able to understand who their customers are and how they can provide a distinct product or service to that customer base. Given the nature of that connection between an organization’s relationship with customers and its success, the reality of the power that women have in the marketplace and the necessity of having female leadership within organizations must be addressed.
How Industry Research Can Shape a Business
A company that isn’t an expert on its own inner-workings and the industry it operates within is positioning itself for failure from the very beginning. Not only that, but the unprecedented ease with which data can be obtained and used makes that type of oversight inexcusable. If a company fails in this regard, they will fail overall, because it is guaranteed that their competitors are doing it.
As Matt Ehrlichman wrote for Entrepreneur about today’s data-driven business world, “To build a really successful business operation you need to know you are going to be able to accurately measure your business. Beyond just understanding your key performance indicators (KPIs), are you developing a business where key decisions are made through the use of good, quality data?”
Utilizing the information that data provides can help you better understand:
Your Customers. Industry research matters because it is one of the best ways to understand who your customers are.
In the words of Katie McBeth for Fiscal Tiger, “Every business is dependent on its customers. No business plan is complete without considering who your customers will be and what need you will be addressing.”
The more adept a company is at seeing what matters to customers and what drives them to commit, the more likely that company will be able to actually deliver on those expectations.
Your Finances. Just as you analyze the specifics of the industry you conduct business in, analysis of the financial component of a business must always be happening. The financial component provides a gauge of success as well as an important foundation for setting future goals.
According to the business experts at Ohio University, “Business growth depends on the accurate and timely analysis of financial statements.”
If you’re not using analytics to survey your finances, then you’ll ultimately overlook information that is key to the growth of your company.
Your Products. Research demonstrates how what you offer compares to the rest of the industry. We’ve pointed out before, “A company’s ability to innovate, in many ways, is synonymous with a company’s ability to remain relevant and competitive.”
Research can show you what those innovations should look like in relation to the services and products that your company offers. It demonstrates the strengths and the weaknesses of what you currently have so that you can continually refine your offerings.
Your Marketing. Even if you know who your customers are, what they want, and how to deliver products that meet their needs you still must employ a marketing strategy that effectively draws people in and convinces them that your organization is the best choice.
In the words of GoingClear Interactive, it “positions you well to close sales as people are considering their options and making their purchases down the line.”
Essentially, the right marketing will connect you with customers, but even more than that it will create an impression that lends itself to long-term loyalty in those customers. Industry research is a valuable way to ensure that your organization is using marketing methods that work and leaving behind those that don’t.
The Power of the Female Growth Market
What industry research will inevitably tell a business in the overwhelming majority of industries is that one of the most significant common threads amongst those in their target audience is that their customers are women.
According to the Harvard Business Review, “Globally, they (women) control about $20 trillion in annual consumer spending, and that figure could climb as high as $28 trillion in the next five years … Women represent a growth market bigger than China and India combined—more than twice as big, in fact. Given those numbers, it would be foolish to ignore or underestimate the female consumer. And yet many companies do just that, even ones that are confident they have a winning strategy when it comes to women.”
There once was a time when the spending women controlled was limited to specific types of industries, and thus marketing efforts reflected that reality. However, that’s no longer the case, yet many businesses are still lagging behind in terms of recognizing that they have an untapped target audience in women.
For example, when Washington State University overviewed emerging industries, they noted that over 6.4 million women are responsible for the growing popularity of fantasy sports. And yet, that is exactly the type of industry wherein business leaders may be failing to connect with potential customers.
The Need for Female Leadership
When considering the value of industry research in addition to the impressive amount of power that female customers hold over many industries, what should end up being recognized is just how crucial it is for companies to employ female leadership. If you’re in an industry wherein the bulk of your customer base is female, and there is no female representation on your team, you’re missing out of untold amounts of profit.
“If women make up a significant portion of your customer base, they should be represented on your management team. Research shows that companies with gender-balanced teams have a higher ROI,” writes Bridget Brennan for Forbes.
Hopefully, as the shifting reality of consumer demographics continues to make headlines, companies will continue to change how they operate and fill their ranks as well. While there are certainly still reasons to harbor pessimistic ideas about the way that the business world relates to women, there is also industry research-backed reason to believe that it will continue to evolve into a more receptive place.
If for no other reason than that the numbers are in, and women are out-influencing their peers in a myriad of industries. What that means is that even those companies that have been the least likely to take professional women seriously are going to have to begin to do so if they want to have any meaningful competitive edge in the future of their industry.