Well, if you know anything about the history of consumer patterns, advertising, and its development, you already know - without consulting a big national study by a communications firm - that women are the major targets of consumer ads and products. I am not going to try posting all of the background information I have on this topic. It's very extensive, and so insanely obvious that the research findings at the first link below, shocked me with the title: "Women, Power, and Money: The Female-driven Economy". It seems to be a specialized publication for companies to they can consider how to "reach" women and get them to "drive" the economy.
I just can't keep from chuckling about this. Really? In 2008 you had to do a study about women as the main consumers? I suppose the good news is that the marketers don't have a clue, which in my opinion shows that women, the consumers, are economically intellectual in many ways that probably can't be known or revealed by research. That sounds like economic empowerment to me!
I need to say that since the beginning of industrialism in America, women's traditionally ascribed gender roles of producing the daily things of home were being siphoned off into industry - the weaving, spinning yarn, knitting, quilting, sewing, food storage, etc.. When women began to follow that alienating hose to the factories, they stopped a lot of their own production and found themselves uniquely tied to selling their labor for what they had once done independently (see Women At Work by Thomas Dublin, 1979). They started purchasing what they had once made.
It didn't take long for manufacturers to advertise their goods and services. Hell, even the undertakers used to call out in the streets for people to bring out the dead and put them in a cart! You have to sell a service - any service. I'm examining some early 20th century publications called The Farmer's Wife (TFW), and they, like most publications, are chock full of advertising for the things women once made. To be fair, there is a mix of production and consumption items in TFW. But one can't help but see just how "female-driven" the economy of home was for women in rural areas as well as urban.
Check out the research by Fleishman-Hilliard here: Kitchen Table Economics: The Power of the Female Consumer. Then click on the Women, Power, and Money link under the paragraph (next to the picture). This will take you to the PDF of the document.