Women are changing the boat sales landscape

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As far back as I can remember, we’ve always acknowledged women could play a make-it-or-break-it role in closing any boat sale. Our reference, of course, was to the boat’s design, comforts, safety features, amenities and the way we treated them during the sales process.

All those remain important today. But, now we must add to the list the major economic influence of women on the possible sale. It’s not the same old landscape any more.

In general, I think most of us know there have been an increasing number of women in the workforce. What I admit I didn’t realize, until now, is that there’s been a major shift quietly taking place in this country. While in the 1970s women made up just 38 percent of the nation’s workforce, the years since have seen women holding down 50 percent of all jobs. Moreover, it’s predicted with certainty that women will be the majority in the workforce in the coming decade. Here’s why:

The New York Times reported more than 80 percent of the jobs lost in the current recession were held by men, notably jobs in manufacturing and construction. Many of those jobs will not likely return in the near term, many never. On the other hand, jobs in fields like education, health care, and various service industries primarily held by women didn’t face such drastic cuts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the current unemployment rate for women is 8.6 percent, compared with 11.2 percent for men. Women now hold two-thirds of the jobs in 10 out of the 15 fastest-growing fields.

It’s all been dubbed one of the most profound revolutions in the last half-century, according to, “Female Power” published in The Economist. In the same time frame, the “glass ceiling” holding women out of top corporate positions has been shattered. Add to that, more women than ever are becoming entrepreneurs - starting up their own businesses. In fact, since 2000, the number of companies founded by women has been double that of men. Here’s more:

There are now 3 million more women in college than men. And, while 40 percent of college women were education majors in the 1960s, now that’s just 12 percent. Conversely, 40 percent of college women today are studying business, up from just 2 percent in the ‘60s!

Here’s a very big factor: A Pew Research Center study on the increased level of income and education for women in today’s marriages (Web site: www.pewresearch.org) found that wives now earn more than their husbands in 20 percent of marriages. That was just 4 percent 40 years ago. Moreover, according to “The State of the American Woman,” published in Time magazine, 90 percent of men said they didn’t mind women earning more than they did and, more broadly, 75 percent of all respondents were accepting of the new place for women in society.

Actually, I don’t think this recession has much to do with it. These demographic changes were already well underway some time ago. We may or may not have noticed. However, this does confirm one of the “new normals” we must deal with in selling our boats is that women are no longer a secondary consideration in the sales process. Rather, they may, in fact, be the primary buyer. Indeed, today’s women have changed the sales process.?

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