2012 Alpha Panel Survey

What Women Want

She’s Spending Again: Influential ‘Alpha’ Women Budgeting for Luxuries – Mass Women’s Market Likely to Follow

Branding Firm Ginger Consulting Releases Fourth Annual Alpha Panel™ ‘What Women Want’ Survey

Leading-Edge Women Plan to Add One Splurge, Everyday Luxuries Back Into Budgets

April Nelson
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News Highlights

  • Alpha women are combining thoughtful spending with regular saving. Fifty three percent of respondents are budgeting for a splurge, like a vacation, this year while more than 30 percent are paying down debt or putting more into savings.

  • When asked what they cannot live without for 30 days, Alpha women prioritize smartphones (41 percent) and “sweating” or exercise (26 percent) over sex (4 percent) and sweets (2 percent). Should we move this down because it doesn't relate to the headline?

  • Consumer branding firm Ginger Consulting ( today released the results of its 2012 Alpha Panel Survey™. The survey provides a snapshot of Alpha women’s priorities and spending plans for the next year.

MINNEAPOLIS (April 16, 2012) — America’s ‘Alpha females’ are spending again. After years of tightening the purse strings and focusing on essential purchases, she’s budgeting for one splurge and more everyday luxuries in the year ahead, according to a survey released today by Ginger Consulting, a branding and custom research firm based in Minneapolis. Fifty three percent of Alpha women surveyed said they’re planning for a vacation or new furniture splurge and more than 25 percent report their personal economic state has taken a turn for the better over the past year. 

Ginger’s fourth annual Alpha Panel™ “What Women Want” Survey gathers insight from America’s most influential, ahead-of-the-curve women — those who are six months to two years in front of market trends. The survey findings signal that relief might be in sight for retailers and marketers since women, the world’s great mega niche, influence more than 85 percent of all products and services sold in the U.S — including 60 percent of automobile and 40 percent of stock purchases.

Alpha women recognize the economy is no longer in a “phase,” according to Ginger Principals Mary Van Note and Beth Perro-Jarvis. “They are accepting this not-so-new normal and are balancing thoughtful spending with regular saving,” said Perro-Jarvis. “Last year, we saw Alpha women ready to add small accents back into their lives. They may have ‘splurged’ on decorative pillows to refresh their homes. This year, they are adding a couple zeros and buying a new sofa and some cocktail tables.”

“At the macro economic level, growth starts in manufacturing,” Van Note added. “But in the consumer space, spending starts with Alpha women. Where Alphas go, other women follow — and this is a great sign for consumer spending in the coming months.”

She’s Spending Again

Alphas said they’re adding everyday luxuries back into their lives. New apparel for the season tops the list (38 percent), followed by stress-busting spa services like massage (22 percent), eating out more (15 percent) and gym memberships (10 percent). Some luxuries cut during the recession won’t be added back in by Alphas, including upgrades to basic cable, coffee-shop coffee, salon hair color and nails.

Smartphones and Sweating Trump Sex and Sweets

Alphas can’t live without their smartphones. When asked what they couldn’t give up for 30 days, this essential lifeline, her smartphone (41 percent) trumps morning coffee (14 percent), makeup (7 percent) and even sex (4 percent). Alpha women also chose sweating (exercise 26 percent) over sweets (2 percent) and social networking (1 percent).

If Smartphones had a Super Power

Alphas favor function over form when it comes to smartphone capabilities. If they could get one “super feature,” it would be a battery with days of power (27 percent). They would also like voice navigation for their maps (13 percent), dinner-on-the-fly app with recipes based on their pantry (12 percent), and a personal stylist app that creates outfits from their closets (10 percent).

Pssssst. It’s Almost Mother’s Day: Secrets to Gifting An Alpha Woman

“With Mother’s Day just around the corner, here’s a tip for significant others: Women don’t always say what they’re thinking, so we’ll help you out,” Van Note said. “Alpha moms of all ages want to be with their children, and they want to be treated like queens for the day, where the family takes care of them with no guilt.”

Alphas have a clear preference for gifting on Mother’s Day, and all special occasions, “They want family and friends to plan a special way to celebrate the day (41 percent),” added Perro-Jarvis. “She would ideally include a significant gift that she wouldn't get for herself – like a technology splurge or something sparkly.”

Serving Up the Perfect President

On the political front, the survey found that Alphas want a substantive, roll-up-your-sleeves chief executive officer who is ready to tackle tough problems like the economy (70 percent) and is willing to work across party lines to get the job done (63 percent). Now for the deal breakers. With a solid resume in place, Alphas indicate they could overlook personal scandal (16 percent), but lack of confidence that he or she can steer our economy is a deal breaker (34 percent). 

Ginger’s Alpha Panel Survey was conducted March 5-16, 2012, among nearly 400 members of Ginger’s proprietary Alpha Panel from 10 U.S. markets, including New York, Chicago, Atlanta and San Francisco. The 2012 survey had a 45 percent response rate.