If you doubt the power of the CPO, check the latest stats
In Retail University, we’ve been highlighting the “CPO” for a long time – Chief Procurement Officer. In the US, the CPO definitely controls the purse strings and influences a majority of the purchase decisions for the American home. The latest “infographic” from the Business Insider confirms that women are definitely in control. Yet, it is amazing how many retailers and manufacturers fail to understand this fact, and how to effectively market to women. Clearly, Apple is a notable exception.
The CPO – Chief Procurement Officer of the Home
In corporate business, the “C Suite” is getting crowded. It is filled with the “chiefs” in charge of setting strategy and making decisions. By last count, a typical company has a: CEO, CFO, CMO, CIO, CTO, COO. These are usually the “guys” that are responsible for setting the strategy, running the business, and making decisions about how to return a profit to the shareholders.
In Retail University, we focus on selling through retailers to reach families and consumers. We have coined the term “CPO” of the home to denote the importance and power of the decision maker regarding family finances and purchase decisions. We have a bit of fun pointing out how influential the woman is during a purchase decision, whether she is physically there or not. In the US at least, women guide research on purchases and proactively make, or influence a majority of purchase decisions for the home.
Infographic - The Purchasing Power of Women
I personally love the latest “infographic” trend in many of the business articles and “Smartbriefs”. Infographics are a simple one page format to summarize some great factoids and information on a topic in a very graphical consolidated way. The Business Insider just published: Infographic: Women Control The Money in America. It was designed and created by MarketingZeus.com.
If you doubt the power of women in terms of purchasing power, or influencing the purchase decisions for the home, check out some of the key metrics from the Business Insider. Let’s start with the stat that 90% of women control the family’s purse strings in terms household items and have the final say on major home and car purchases.
Other highlights from the Business Insider Infographic include:
Even if women are not totally in charge of purchase decisions, they clearly think that they are … and who’s going to argue with them.
The CPO appears to be more than a US phenomenon
I have been using the concept of the CPO for the home in recent International Retail University workshops. I’m always interested in seeing if the power of women in making purchase decisions is a western cultural phenomenon, or if it applies across cultures.
Based on my most recent experience in Singapore, there seems to be vote for the power of women influencing purchases in many cultures, including India and Asia. Even though some of the male workshop participants proudly proclaim that they are in charge at home, it is surprising how many women talk to me on breaks to confirm that it is in fact the women who hold the decision power. They proudly state that they either make the final decision, or hold “veto power” over major purchases for the home, especially those purchases related to family, kids, health and education.
It would seem foolish to ignore the power of the CPO
Unfortunately, we don’t have similar statistics for other countries. The percentages may vary. It would be an interesting case study to benchmark the amount of purchases made or influenced by women for different categories of products. For the US, the percentages reported by the Business Insider are compelling evidence that the CPO not only exists, she is in command of procurement for the American home.
Ok, guys … you are NOT in charge! You might want to quibble with some of the percentages, but clearly the women personally buy, or make the final decision on major purchases. But come on … even on PCs? Isn’t technology the last bastion and domain of males? Not so much if the PC is used for the home, especially for education with children.
Most tech retailers and suppliers don’t seem to get it!
Over the course of my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with most of the PC manufacturers in the US. They just don’t seem to get:
- The power and influence of women in purchasing technology.
- How to market more effectively to women.
So, what do women as CPOs really want? For the most part, they want simple ways to understand the benefits of the product and its value. They respond to marketing that shows them how the product can be used by her, her family, and especially her kids.
Do women, look at specs and prices? Absolutely, they are not stupid! But, specs are not where they start. Yet, what do most tech retailers and product manufacturers emphasize – Features! Particularly technology features where “bigger is better”. For example, look at the top of Sony’s web store landing page or their tablets. The focus is almost exclusively on product technology, specs and price!
There are of course retailers and suppliers who understand how to effectively market to women. They don’t “talk down to them”. They don’t just focus on features and price. The companies that truly understand the woman as CPO, market the benefits of what it will be like using one of their products in her home, with her family.
ONE company absolutely knows how to sell the CPO
There is of course one company that really understands the power and influence of women as purchasers and influencers. They also truly understand how to market value and lifestyle to women as purchasers, and CPOs for their home and family.
The secret sauce of Apple as a technology manufacturer, marketer and retailer is that they effectively market lifestyle value, not individual products. Apple’s focus is on showing the products being used and the benefits of owning an Apple solution.
Compare Apple’s tablet landing page on their web store to the previous Sony example. There are very clear reasons why Apple dominates:
And you know what, Apple’s approach to marketing benefits of ownership, and what the product does vs. what is in the product, works equally well with men, even if we are not in charge.