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Leading Ladies

Women rule the marketplace, says one author. So why aren't ad-makers catching on?

This story appears in the April 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

American women are the world's largest economy, yet few businesses market effectively to them, says Chicago marketing consultant Martha Barletta. In Marketing to Women (Dearborn), Barletta details how women control 83 percent of all consumer purchases (as well as many business budgets), including 94 percent of furniture purchases and two-thirds of health-care spending.

Barletta also shows how businesses muff their marketing to this audience by relying on tools developed for male shoppers. In one example, Barletta recounts how a carmaker's ad plugged a vehicle with: "Victorious. That's how you feel behind the wheel." Her point is that while men tend to endorse ambition, women see such statements as self-aggrandizing; they'd prefer to be told how owning the car would help them feel connected to friends and family.

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