As the number of financially independent women around the world increases, so, too, is their optimism about the future, along with their focus on health and wellness, according to new gender-focused analysis undertaken by global measurement company, Nielsen.
The Nielsen analysis, which looks at consumer confidence, economic sentiment and spending intentions by gender over the past five years, reveals a consecutive year-on-year increase in women’s confidence levels between 2013 and 2018. The female consumer confidence index increased 12 points over that time, from 91 in Q4 2013 to 103 in Q4 2018. Despite women’s rising confidence levels, however, they remain slightly less optimistic than their male counterparts (See chart 1).
Chart 1. Global Consumer Confidence Index, men vs women, 2013-2018
Asia Pacific boasts the world’s most optimistic women, with a female consumer confidence index of 115 in Q4 2018, followed by North America with a female consumer confidence index of 106.
“Women are accountable for $39.6 trillion or about 30% of the world’s wealth, and by 2028 they will control close to 75% of discretionary spending worldwide,” says Marie Lalleman, Executive Vice President, Nielsen. “As women’s financial independence increases, their views and sentiment around the economy and employment prospects, and their willingness to spend, will have an exponentially greater impact on the global economy.”
Health and wellness is also playing a more central role in the lives of women around the world. Around one quarter of women (24%) ranked health as their top concern in Q4 2018, followed by the economy (24%), job security (19%) and work-life balance (17%). Conversely, the economy was the chief concern for men globally (30%), followed by health (22%), job security (19%) and work-life balance (19%).
Women around the world are also increasingly focused on building their financial stability -- after covering their essential living expenses, 51% of women say they allocate their spare cash to savings in Q4 2018 (up 4 percentage points vs Q4 2013), compared to 52% of men. Meanwhile, women’s willingness to spend trails their male counterparts, with 47% saying now is a good time to buy the things they need and want, compared to 53% of men. Women were slightly more inclined than men to put their spare cash towards holidays (46% for women vs 45% for men), while both women and men share similar spending intentions when it comes to using their spare cash for out-of-home entertainment (37%) and home improvement (28%). (See chart 2).
Chart 2. Expenditure of spare cash, men vs women
% of consumers spending across categories
Women’s employment sentiment is also increasing, with more than half (53%) feeling optimistic about their job prospects for the next twelve months, compared to 44% five years ago in 2013. However, women’s outlook on job prospects trails men’s -- 60% of men feel positive about their job prospects over the coming 12 months, compared to 50% five years ago in 2013.
By region, women in Asia Pacific were the most positive about their job prospects -- nearly two in three women (65%, up 3% since 2013) believe their job prospects in the coming 12 months are good or excellent, followed by North America (54%, up 19% since 2013), Africa and Middle East (40%, up 3% since 2013) and Europe (33%, up 12% since 2013). Conversely, women in Latin America are facing declining confidence in their job prospects, with just 34% of women feeling positive about their job prospects in Q4 2018, compared to 39% in Q4 2013.
Across all regions globally men were more optimistic about their job prospects than women. Mexico topped the list of markets based on the difference in optimism between men and women (22% differential), while Europe accounted for five of the top six markets for differential between male and female optimism around job prospects, including Hungary (21% differential), Norway (20% differential) and Slovakia, Slovenia and Austria (all 18% differential). (See Chart 3).
Chart 3. Optimism about future job prospects, women vs men
% of women and men who feel that their job prospects for the next 12 months are good or excellent
“There are multiple reasons that may be causing the imbalance between men and women around their optimism related to job prospects and one of them could be the glass ceiling,” says Lalleman. “International Women’s Day presents an opportunity for employers to think about ways in which they can empower women to be successful in their jobs and enable a more suitable work environment to support better balance in personal and professional lives for both men and women alike.”