by John Birger
Originally published: June 20, 2016
A huge population of young women now has the means to buy luxury goods. Smart marketers are adapting their strategies.
Women earn 79 cents for every dollar pocketed by men. Brands know this, and often channel marketing spending accordingly. Think of pretty much every luxury-car commercial you’ve seen, every ad for a mutual fund or titanium golf club. If a woman appears, she’s the mom, wife, or girlfriend—not a corporate highflier.
That couldn’t last. The strides being made by millennial women point to a future in which women, not men, are the target demographic for pricey goods and services. Since 2000, one-third more women than men have graduated from college, and more women are earning graduate degrees, too. Even once-male bastions such as law school are seeing the change. Millennial women are so outpacing men in higher education that it’s inevitable they will become their generation’s top earners.
With greater education comes greater wealth. Between 1980 and 2012, wages for men age 25 to 34 fell 20%, while those for women rose 13%. At this rate, young women’s wages will overtake men’s by 2020. The data comes from a 2013 Pew Research report, which notes today’s young women "are the first in modern history" to start their work lives at near parity with men.