Though many of us have our favorite women-owned brands (mine is Goddess Garden Organics) and many of us feel a small victory when adding products with the Women Owned label to our grocery carts, the truth is that women-owned businesses are a far minority in nearly every industry, including the natural products industry. And that Women Owned label? While it's currently on almost 200 products, that's less than 0.004% of the 50,000+ products you'll encounter in a typical U.S. grocery store. The disparity can be shocking, especially when you consider that women account for 85% of all consumer purchases, and a whopping 93% of the food and beverage purchases coming into households. And we’re not just buying what we and our families eat and wear, we’re also making more than half of the purchases of traditional male products, including automobiles, home improvement products and electronics.
What’s important for natural product brands and retailers to understand is not just that women are the ones buying most of your stuff—but why we’re doing it. And why women in leadership roles can help make the brand decisions that connect on a sensual, emotional and service-providing level that women shoppers want. According to research printed in the Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences that looked at shopping behavior among genders, women are the consumers who desire an authentic and emotional response that resonates with them versus the facts-first, functional approach (get in, get out) that men want.
Women, instead, enjoy browsing, comparing and digging in. As a brand with a story to tell, sourcing choices that have grand impact potential, plus attributes and certifications that you’ve invested it, it’s imperative to connect with women shoppers. What better way to do that than to have women in leadership roles making key brand decisions? The fact that your company is woman-owned is a marketing plus, as well. One study found that 90% of female shoppers would go out of their way to buy a product marked as "women-owned" and that those products are percevied to have high quality.
Another solution to the disparity between women-driven sales and women-owned companies is to keep narrowing the funding gap for women business owners, where advances are happening, yet the average size loan for women-owned businesses is still 31% less than for male-owned businesses. We need more initiatives like the new Stacy’s Rise Project that will award one businesswoman from the food and beverage industry with a grant and executive mentorship to propel her business plan. More than 400 women owners applied for that one. And we need to keep closing other gaps, as well, like the one that shows women hold more than half (nearly 52%) of all professional-level jobs, yet account for less than 6% of the CEOs.
As you head to Natural Products Expo East next month, keep an eye out for these 36 women-owned businesses and the many more companies there that have put women in key leadership roles. And if you’re a woman, why not give ‘em a high five and add their products to your shopping cart? Afterall, if there is strength in numbers (and there is!), then we already own the shopping power to drive women-owned economic growth and just about every other change we’d like to see.