Over the next decade, women will control two-thirds of consumer wealth in the United States. Women make 85 percent of all brand purchases in the U.S., adding up to $5 trillion in annual spending and making them the key gender for marketers to consider. In regards to online marketing, though, it’s important to understand women’s Internet style.

Unicast, a company that focuses on interactive advertising and marketing technology, conducted a poll via The Polling Company of 516 adult women regarding their plans for online usage this summer. According to the report (the link leads to a PDF doc), 95 percent of women plan to go online at some point this summer.

Some of Unicast’s other findings include:

  • 76 percent of those women who will go online plan to connect with friends and family
  • 67 percent will keep up with news
  • 64 percent plan to shop for sales/compare prices
  • 59 percent intend to entertain themselves (play games, listen to music or watch TV/movies)
  • 48 percent will research travel/vacations

Sixty-two percent of those women notice and/or interact with online advertising. The ads that are most effective with women, at 46 percent, include some sort of sales notice or discount codes. The second most effective ads include some sort of contest entry to win a prize.

Across the board, women are more likely to pay attention to advertisements discovered through blogs rather than other types of websites, regardless of the type of ad (e.g., sales offers, promotion codes, survey or quiz with real-time results, entry submittal and prize, etc.), according to the Unicast report. Unfortunately, that report states that only 13 percent of women plan to visit a blog this summer, a number that seems a little low to me.

As far as moms go, the report reads:

Women with children in the home tend to do more activities online than those without children, including listen to music (62% vs. 42%), watch TV or movies (56% vs. 46%) and look up entertainment options (60% vs. 40%).

Some further statistics about moms and online usage, compiled by Social Media Examiner and specific to Facebook, are:

  • 75 percent are Facebook fans of at least one company or brand
  • 16 percent followed more than 10 companies’ fan pages
  • 59.9 percent feel neutral about Facebook ads, while 36 percent actively dislike them
  • Favorite Facebook page and group topics include parenting information, coupons, restaurants, groceries and entertainment, especially of the kid-friendly variety

“Facebook is fertile ground for marketers to engage mothers and drive sales, but it needs to be done on their terms,” said Kevin Burke, president of Lucid Marketing, a boutique agency that focuses on marketing to mothers. “They have no time for brands that don’t ‘get it,’ but they do embrace brands that play by their rules.” (See also: The Pampers Dry Max fiasco.)

Women with children at home are 20 percent more likely to use Facebook, according to some statistics gathered by global PR firm Porter Novelli. The firm also discovered that at 57 percent, women comprise the larger segment of social media users across the globe.

Some other stats include:

  • 82 percent of women in the U.S. have a Facebook profile
  • 53 percent of women who take part in social networking use blogs to make a purchase decision
  • 32 percent read blogs at least once a week
  • 80 percent of women who use social networking have become fans of products or brands
  • 72 percent search for new products online

Statistics aren’t necessarily solid numbers, however. One glaring discrepancy is the number quoted for blog readership, which is 13 percent in the Unicast study, but 32 percent according to Porter Novelli’s sources, which aren’t actually cited. Still, numbers generated by other organizations find pretty similar data for most items, even if the digits aren’t exactly the same.

Flowtown‘s graphic representation of data from Quantcast.com and Smallbiztrends.com states that:

  • 53 percent of adult females in the U.S. participate in social media, or roughly 42 million
  • 31.5 million are participating in social networking
  • 75 percent use social networking to stay connected with friends and family
  • 23 million are participating in some type of blog activity (writing or reading)

Entertainment and food are the top subjects that women read and/or comment about online, at 53 percent and 47 percent, respectively. Only 8 percent read about gadgets and technology. Don’t discount women from stererotypically male topics, however. Nearly half of all athletics fans are women, regardless of sport type (e.g., soccer, football, baseball), and they spend 80 percent of sports-apparel dollars.

The Unicast study mentioned above mentions that women aged 18-26 use the Internet more than other age groups. Don’t rule out the older age brackets, though. Baby Boomers, for example, have great buying power. Women over the age of 50 own more than three-fourths of the nation’s wealth, and they spend 2.5 times more of what an average consumer spends.

Until recently, Boomer’s social media usage lagged far behind the younger set. Porter Novelli quotes a 550 percent — no, that’s not a typo — increase in 2009 for social media signups for those aged 55 and up, but other figures are much more conservative. Statistics for the increases in social media usage among Baby Boomers vary wildly, but the undeniable truth is that the usage is growing rapidly.

Some figures taken from an eMarketer report and a Mashable article state that:

  • 47 percent of Boomers actively maintain a social media profile in 2009
  • 73 percent of Boomers maintain a Facebook profile
  • Baby Boomers using Facebook increased 107 percent from 2008 to 2009
  • The fastest-growing Facebook user group is women 55 and over, up more than 175 percent since last Fall.
  • Twitter usage amongst Boomers jumped 714 percent from 2008 to 2009
  • There was a 67 percent increase in reading blogs and listening to podcasts year over year, nearly 80 times faster than Gen Y at 1 percent
  • There was a 59 percent increase in using social networking sites, more than 30 times faster than Gen Y at 2 percent.

Source: “Women and Social Media – Usage Statistics and Driving Purchase Decisions,” Speak Media Blog, 06/21/10
Source: “What Women Want From The Web Report” (PDF), Unicast study, June 2010
Source: “Women and Social Media,” Flowtown, 06/25/10
Source: “Marketing To Women Quick Facts” She-conomy, date unknown
Source: “Baby Boomers and Seniors Are Flocking to Facebook [STATS],” Mashable, 01/28/10
Source: “Social Media Differences Among Teens, Boomers and Moms: New Study Findings,” Social Media Examiner, 03/05/10
Source: “Boomers Social Media Stats-Rocking Out on Twitter, Facebook, AARP,” Wired PR Works, 04/9/09
Image by Ed Yourdon, used under its Creative Commons license.

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