What women want in shopping: A review of She Means Business

How should companies market to women? By understanding their needs and rewards, and by saving them time. Those are three major points of She Means Business, by Grant J. Schneider of Time's magazine group. He drew his data from studies done to keep People, Real Simple, Cooking Light, BabyTalk, and other magazines in sync with women's concerns.

She Means Business

Women's needs

In this small, insight-packed book, Schneider writes that women like to get recommendations by other women who understand their lives because they're in similar situations. First-person testimonials are thus more trusted than data because women communicate by storytelling. Thus, an anecdote of how a girlfriend's fussy child wouldn't eat peas until they tried Brand X will carry more weight than an impersonal statistic. Similarly, women are influenced by celebrities, perhaps because they have an emotional attachment to certain celebrities, albeit it at a distance.

Women's rewards

Women find it rewarding to when their purchases provide style and value. When women buy luxuries, it's not because they're status symbols; it's because they're worth it in terms of style and value. In fact, upgrading on even inexpensive items can be emotionally rewarding. In line with Paco Underhill's statements in Why We Buy, Schneider says that "Purchases are…more about how they make women feel."

Women buy products to support their desired lifestyle. For example, mothers want to maintain the same lifestyle they had before they had kids. So it might not be uncommon for a woman to buy baby food and wine in the same shopping trip!

Saving time

Time is a major concern for women: "the majority of working women say that shopping is a hassle, as do most men." A survey by Real Simple found women reported that lack of time (74%) and energy (63%) were their greatest problems. And when research organization DYG Inc. asked women if they'd prefer having more time or money, women "picked more time by nearly two to one."

How can stores save women time? According to GMDC Educational Foundation's "Women's Well-Being Merchandising Strategy," one solution is for stores to group products by life stages (e.g. young adult, childbirth, menopause, etc.). The report also suggests providing "helpful and meaningful information about nutrition, health conditions, and women's issues" at the point of purchase.


In conclusion, She Means Business is a data-backed, useful guide for marketers and retailers. Despite some imperfect typography, it lays out what women want and how companies can meet their needs.