Wealthy Women in Charge of Buying Decisions

Married wealthy women on average make almost two-thirds of a family’s purchase decisions, according to a Luxury Institute survey of women from households with $150,000 or more in annual income.

Women hold particular sway over home appliance and travel spending: in 68 percent of wealthy households, the matriarch has the final word on ovens, ranges, and refrigerators; 61 percent of wealthy women make the family’s vacation decisions, according to the survey. Health care decisions, including choice of plans and providers, are the domain of women in 48 percent of wealthy households and 48 percent call the shots on home improvement purchases.

Even in financial affairs, the female influence is profound: 22 percent of married wealthy women make all of the family’s investment decisions on their own; another two-thirds report making financial decisions jointly. Forty-six percent choose the family’s bank accounts.

Choice of automobiles and consumer electronics fall to the female in 40 percent of wealthy households, and women control their family’s real estate purchase in 31 percent of households.

The driving force behind the spending power of wealthy women is often their own money: 72 percent work on at least a part-time basis and 54 percent work full-time. Most are well compensated for their efforts, with 60 percent earning at least $100,000 a year. The median annual income of working wealthy women is $124,000. One-third hold jobs at the vice-president level or higher; 22 percent hold managerial positions. Twelve percent serve on a board of directors.

“Winning over wealthy women is a do-or-die proposition for companies in industries as varied as travel, healthcare, financial services, and home improvement,” says Milton Pedraza, chief executive officer of the Luxury Institute. “Education is a big ingredient: 88 percent of wealthy women hold at least a bachelor’s degree and 35 percent have a master’s.”

Marriott, Hilton, Visa, and Home Depot stand out for their skill in marketing to wealthy women -each earned an unaided mention from seven percent of respondents for being companies that do the best job of marketing to wealthy women, Pedraza said.