Women Sex and Shopping (WSS)

Women Sex and Shopping is recognized as the definitive insight into the sensual products market for women and the emotional dimension of the female consumer. Recent interviews/apearances in the media have included the Wall St Journal, The Economist, Huffington Post and Businessweek and go to illustrate the increasing commercial importance of a subject that is only just becoming understood. In 2014 WSS has featured in over $400m of corporate activity.

Women Sex and Shopping (WSS) was established as a research project in 2008 and looks at a number of product areas that are uniquely female.  This includes personal lubricants and intimate massagers. Lubricant and intimate devices can (in practical terms) be considered entirely new markets that have developed since the start of the 21st Century.  The growth has been so rapid that the user base now comprises over half of all women 18-65 in North America and Western Europe.  Normally, such growth and consumer demand and adoption would have seismic commercial consequences but in fact we can observe an almost brand free market with a largely dysfunctional retail element. It is impossible for a woman to walk into a department store and buy personal lubricant from a Beauty or Skincare brand for the simple reason that no brand makes such a product and no fasionable store sells one.  But.... women have proved that they are pragmatic.  They buy in outlets they would not choose and they buy products they would not normally choose. Women, in the sectors that WSS has studied, have adapted to the market but the maket has not adapted to them.

The findings of WSS are compelling when seen in the wider context of the female economy. In 2009 Boston Consulting Group produced the standard work on the Female Economy.  Boston set out research findings that suggested that the female consumer was the most powerful on the planet and responsible for 70% of all consumer expenditure. 

“Women now drive the world economy. Globally, they control about $20 trillion in annual consumer spending, and that figure could climb as high as $28 trillion in the next five years. In aggregate, women represent a growth market bigger than China and India combined—more than twice as big, in fact” (HBR 2009)

Hewson partly agree with Boston in principle but the question of growth markets for women is a complex one.  Women Sex and Shopping demonstrates clearly that women are pragmatic consumers when necessity dictates.  That pragmatism masks many deficiencies in both products and retail because a preparedness to buy what women need as opposed to what they want and to buy where they must and not where they would like does not present a true picture.  We know about the under-representation of women in politics but the fact that only 4.6% of the Fortune 1000 CEOs are women as well as 3% of creative directors and  2% of Hollywood directors speaks, by implication, of inherent and deep flaws in the marketplace. WSS proves that women are badly served in product markets driven almost entirely by female demand - what does that say about many other sectors such as Financial Services, Real Estate, Hotels or Automotive, where there is a well founded suspicion that mindsets might be a generation out of date?

The specific areas that WSS has studied are today worth about $5-6bn - a substantial sum that should demand attention in itself but a true understanding of the nature of female demand puts the potential figure at a more likely $20bn plus with an additional - and considerable impact on sectors such as lingerie.  Understanding that demand and what pragmatism implies more widely should be a priority for many organisations.

Hewson Group

Hewson Group is a market analyst company established in 1989. Hewson is best known for work around the CRM area where the company is considered one of a handful of key originators.  Early works such as Emerging Information Technologies - A Marketing Opportunity (1993, with McDonald and Wilson) set the direction for csustomer management and marketing and were followed by the influential 'Business Use of the Internet in 1996. Subsequent research reports such as CRM in the Public Sector and Towards a Citizen Centric Authority were very persuasive in establishing the UK's egov strategy - although Hewson were vocal critics of its flawed execution. The research programme Women Sex and Shopping initiated in 2008 is an extension of earlier work around the customer experience and events have confirmed Hewson's early assessments about both the marketplace and also the extent to which the female consumer is far from understood.

The Report

Women Sex and Shopping is the leading authority on emotional retail for women and on how the female consumer thinks and behaves. The implications for the future of retail both in store and online are far reaching. Find out why.

Women Sex and Shopping (WSS) is a research project run by market analyst company Hewson Group.  WSS is the only research of it's kind and analyses a key marketplace that has many implications for the way women will shop and the sort of retail environments they would most prefer.

The research is largely based on hundreds of questionnaire responses (4 page handwritten answers).

. Buy the report.

Latest from the Blog