The Rise of the Female Economy in B2B

A T  Kearney New LogoA study published in association with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) reveals that now is a crucial time to secure competitive advantage by addressing female B2B decision makers.

Major shifts in recent decades mean that women are increasingly occupying very senior positions in business, and yet many businesses have been slow to catch up in the way they sell to them.

A.T. Kearney asked 200 UK B2B businesses how they were either changing or planning to change their approach to selling to women. A majority of respondents (six in 10) confirm that women have either always been a large part of their customer base (11.5 percent), that they have seen a significant change and a large number are now women (18 percent), or that there has been some change and there are now more female decision makers in their customer base (29 percent).


However, only 22 percent of survey respondents say they have changed their approach to selling to this important group.

Comparing different business sectors, the study finds three degrees of progress:

  • Riding the trend. Manufacturers, for example, are tailoring their approach to female buyers, with practices that are in sync with the evolution of their customers. Furthermore, manufacturers seem to be anticipating a greater presence of women decision makers in coming years, as 54 percent of our study participants say they have plans to do more.
  • Pushing hard, full speed ahead. Women buyers of construction services have traditionally been rare, but that is changing quickly – with one in four construction executives noticing a recent uptick in women buyers and a further 35 percent reporting “some” increase. Already 41 percent of companies in our study are using a different sales approach for women, with two in five companies intending to do yet more to cater to female buyers.
  • Focusing on a different destination, for now. The pharmaceutical and health sector is unique. The customer base of companies in this industry includes a large number of women, with almost half of businesses in our study saying that a large number of their customer decision makers have always been or now are women.
About the Study

A.T. Kearney surveyed 200 UK executives and decision makers in B2B companies and across the public sector in December 2013. We complemented the survey with 35 one-on-one interviews. The company sample represents a broad cross-section of industries, including educational services, technology, construction, manufacturing, and business services.  About 18 percent of our study sample report rough gender parity among their employees; 21 percent have a majority of women employees, while men outnumber women at 50 percent of the businesses analyzed.

Read the full report: The Rise of the Female Economy in B2B

For further information on this study please contact Kristyn Mitchell.

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