Vast Product Choices Creating "Option Overwhelm"As consumers, women around the world control day-to-day purchasing, partnering in big-ticket and financial decisions and committed to value- and price-focused choices. However, they are increasingly frustrated by "option overwhelm" – confusion over the vast number of product choices and variants available these days. More than half of women (53 percent) in China are overwhelmed by the choices, followed by France (47 percent), Germany (45 percent), the U.K. (36 percent) and U.S. (32 percent), where tracking data suggests "option overwhelm" is on the rise with American women since the previous wave in 2011.
Particularly challenging for marketers, option overwhelm often leads to even more price-sensitivity, as female shoppers default to simpler decisions of buying the least expensive or on-sale product. And even though women around the world are proud of their smart purchase decisions and highly satisfied with their current products (with the exception of China), they continue to be extremely open to new brands, driven heavily by customer and expert reviews, word of mouth, and media.
"Strong, simplified messaging and product portfolios will give marketers a real opportunity to stand out in today's crowded marketplace, especially among the majority of women who are willing to try new brands," says
Marlene Greenfield, vice president, executive director of research, Hearst Magazines. "With few considering themselves 'brand loyal,' existing brands cannot rest on their laurels, and new brands can make a notable impact by clearly defining the product attributes."
A Closer Look at Country ComparisonsThe "Women, Power & Money" study finds women around the world have a lot in common when it comes to similarities in their home life, career and shopping habits. In fact, women in the U.S. and U.K. were particularly similar. Some of the key areas where things varied across the five countries:
- In Germany, where smart shopping is a way of life, women are highly satisfied as consumers and are feeling relative economic strength. Their European counterparts in the U.K. and France are still feeling the economic pinch, while American women's economic concerns are prevalent, but easing.
- French women have the strongest perceptions of gender equality in society and their households. German women note more gender specialization in the home, but relatively equal opportunity in politics.
- American women prefer spending on "experiences," whereas French women prefer spending on "things."
- British women are most open to trying new brands and also have a strong desire to help others make smart purchase decisions.
- French women are highly concerned about food safety. Chinese women are also concerned about food safety, as well as product safety and quality more generally.
- Women in China and Germany expressed the strongest interest in luxury across a variety of categories.