Steve Pham

It’s safe to say that women make up half the world’s population, and as such, wield significant input in joint purchasing decisions. But it’s only fairly recently that a new phrase has emerged to describe a woman who makes major purchasing decisions for herself. Such a one is called a “self-purchasing woman.”

The term has gained traction as the buzziest of buzzwords in the world of fine jewelry, a world where tradition rigidly designates men as purchasers and women as recipients only.

One company that has tenaciously clung to this fuddy-duddy attitude is iconic jeweler Tiffany and Co., and it’s proven to be a grave and costly mistake. In fact, plummeting sales over the past few years has led the company to frantically ditch, in quick succession, its design director and then, last month, its CEO.

The company now is scrambling to court the self-purchasing woman, and is counting on these independent wonder women for its survival. The jeweler is determined to woo this demographic by hook or by crook: It’s rolling out a substantial store redesign to attract more foot traffic, dropping its signature masculine decor (think stuffy wood paneling, dark carpets and grandfather clocks) for a lighter, brighter, more glamorous and decidedly feminine look. The company also is stepping up its marketing efforts with new social media and advertising campaigns, even tapping celebrities with millennial-generation cache, such as Hollywood darlings Lupita Nyong’o and Elle Fanning, along with pop superstar Lady Gaga. And last, but not least, Tiffany is introducing a new, edgier line of jewelry designed to appeal to the modern single woman. All this because Tiffany has finally recognized that these women don’t wait for men to buy them jewelry, but they buy what they like, when they want it.

It’s too soon to tell if the efforts will pay off. But the company is right in recognizing that this is a supremely desirable demographic, and one that the pool and spa industry shouldn’t overlook. Single women, in particular, make up a powerful group. Here are some reasons why you should pay attention to this demographic:

• According to 2014 U.S. Census data, there are 18,057,000 female homeowners in the United States, of which 10 million live alone, and 6.7 million live with relatives other than a husband.

• The National Association of Realtors’ annual Profile of Buyers and Sellers reports that 17% of all home purchases in 2016 were made by single women, more than double the rate of single men.

• Although women still face a gender wage gap of approximately 20%, more women than men attain college degrees, and therefore, access to higher wages.

• More women are in the workforce than ever before and they are taking time for career growth, delaying childbirth or choosing not to have children, resulting in more discretionary income.

• EY, a global business advisory firm, projects the worldwide incomes of women to reach $18 trillion by 2018, and for women to control 75% of all discretionary spending by 2028.

Have you been able to tap into this underestimated and underserved market? If so, drop me a line. I’d love to hear about it!