Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Summary And Review of What Women Want: The Global Market Turns Female Friendly by Paco Underhill

Executive Summary

PACO UNDERHILL, the author, reports on the growing importance of women in everybody's marketplace and what makes a package, product, space, or service "female friendly." Underhill offers a tour of the world's marketplace with insightful observations and practical applications to help everybody adapt to the new realities. As large numbers of women become steadily wealthier, more powerful, and more independent, their choices and preferences are transforming our commercial environment in a variety of important ways, from the cars we drive to the food we eat; from how we buy and furnish our homes to how we gamble, play, and use the Internet in short, how we spend our time and money. Underhill examines how a woman's role as homemaker has evolved into homeowner and what women look for in a home. How the home gym and home office are linked to the women's health movement and home-based businesses. Why the refrigerator has trumped the stove as the crucial appliance. How every major h otel chain in the world has redesigned rooms and services for the female business traveler. Why some malls, appealing to women, are succeeding while others fail. What women look for online and why some retail websites, like Amazon, attract women while other sites turn them off. Underhill explains that while men were busy doing other things, women were becoming a major social, cultural, and economic force. Women are wealthier, more powerful and more independent than ever.

Underhill explains that smart businesses are adapting to accommodate women a group that makes up more than half of their customers, in many cases. No business, he argues, can afford to ignore the power of women. No matter what the product in question cars, appliances, homes, hotels, restaurants, banks, homes, clothing retailers must focus on what women want. Businesses have already made changes to reflect womens desires.

Underhill believes those businesses that flourish will recognize the importance of womenin the marketplace. As our recent economic problems have shown, women have kept their jobs,while moremen have lost theirs in this recession. According to Underhill, "Approximately 70 percent of all American females work outside the home. Women dominate higher education we've changed the way people shop for groceries with the organic movement.

Underhill covers a great deal of ground in this book, from how hotels should be treating women, the changes in bathrooms and workout spaces to the dominance of women in social networking. With this book, it's essential to read the introduction, where he explains why he's writing this book. Traveling around the world, he sees "The expanded cultural, social, and economic influence of women." And, in every speech he delivers, he says, "We live in a world that is owned by men, designed by men, and managed by men - and yet we expect women to be active participants.

The Ten Things Managers Need to Know fromWhat Women Want

1.Todays female wants anything and everything to do with saving labor-shortening the time it takes to do with everything. For women starved for time, fast and easy does it.

2.Less is more for female shoppers, so the smaller and more focused a store is the more it will attract female shoppers. This enables them to get in and out in no time at all.

3.Density, and having everything available under one roof, becomes more attractive and alluring to customers while shopping in retail stores.

4.The female of the species likes and appreciates, or you might even say she demands, clean. For the majority of the worlds females, Am I in a clean environment? Is a vibe they pick up about every room in their retail establishment, every dressing room they try on clothing, every restaurant they dine in, every hotel room they sleep in, every health club they join, and every bathroom they enter.

5.Consider the difference between a DESIGNER LABEL IN BIG CAPITAL LETTERS versus a sign reading, This is where all the little black dresses are. The second option will always win with females because its clear and to the point. A typical female doesnt identify with a single designer. Shes just looking for a dress she likes that fits her.

6.There is a direct correlation between the success of a store and the number of female employees working on the floor. This issue is particularly evident because women trust women more and feel females are less likely to sell them something just for the sales commission.

7.Females are conscious of their own personal security in ways males really cant fathom, whether its the lighting levels in the lobby, the burned out bulb in the parking lot, or a hotel window that isnt locked. Safety may or may not be a design function, say, of a retail environment or a hotel, but the females desire to know that shes safe and sound does fit neatly into her needs.

8. While examining hotel rooms, the most important aspect females look for while traveling are the amenities they have to offer.

9.When designing websites appealing to females, they must have some entertainment value, purpose for being there, time and errand saving, and colors and interesting shapes also go a long way.

10. When designing stores, females will always go for a prototype store directly targeted for them. This entails an actual classroom space, a worktable, and chairs. The notion behind this is for females to be taught how to use technology.

Full Summary of What Women Want


Underhill starts his introduction with his famous quote, We live in a world that is owned by men, designed by men, and managed by men-and yet we expect women to be active participants in it. He asks what makes a package, product, space, design, or service female-friendly? In 2005, for the first time in history, young women under the age of thirty in the largest American cities overtook men in earning power. In New York City, for every guy pulling in a median salary of $30,560, an equivalent female was banking $35,653. This was the highest wages in the south. The increase in female earning power now parallels employment figures around the globe.

One of the things he found fascinating about traveling overseas is observing how gender differences show up in various countries. For instance, Brazil, the unemployment rates for men are much higher than they are for women. He observed, the more highly educated you are, the better chance you have of being successfully employed in a well paying job. Currently, 140 women are awarded bachelor degrees for every 100 in the United States. The number of females that have graduated has rose and have outpaced the number of male participants in secondary institutions.

He points out that women are making headway in their careers because of babies. After graduating women are in no hurry to pair up and settle down, which gives them time, space, momentum, and luxury to pursue a professional track and make good money. Women go above and beyond the natural occurrences of birth with things such as birth control and biology to manipulate when to we children. Women are almost in control of every aspect of life.

He also states that Cleanliness is a world that registers with women instantaneously. Issues of cleanliness play a natural, crucial role in female hygiene, child bearing, as well as in the acquisition and preparation of food. If men did the cleanliness habits of women daily, they would appreciate the level of cleanliness that most females live with and expect every day of their lives. Bottom line cleanliness matter to women most of all. Secondly, Control is a huge aspect of a womens life, as all men already know. For example, she has to drive, controls the heat and cool, plan trips, etc. Third, Safety is another big issue with women. Females are conscious of their own personal security in way most males really cant fathom. Lastly, Considerateness is a huge issue. This doesnt entail politeness, but about issues involving weight. At the end of the introduction, Underhill explains he is not a expert on gender issues but is only pointing out that, while men are busy doing other things, women are becoming a major, social, cultural, and economic force in the world.

Chapter 1: Housequake

When we were children our homes consist of two or three welcome steps, a door mat, floral wall paper, worn carpeting, and dads oversized recliner. We remember when the dining room was used just for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner or the occasional grandmother visit. The kitchen sat at the back of the house, the stove had gray hard coils, the counters were an ugly marshmallow color, and you couldnt even see where or how the fridge opened. Sure it was cramped, but it was home.

In todays marketplace, a house like that would probably not sell without being fixed up. Although the American house hasnt altered its basic design since the 1950s the homes are now readjusted to accommodate certain cultural and demographic realities. Nowadays home buyers are willing to giving up square footage in exchange for a house containing things they really use or in the location they really want. As the nuclear family gets smaller, we are now seeing multiple generations all living under one roof, grandkids in one wing, and grandparents in another. With more children living under one roof and living at home, having had a taste of the real world is making them want the security of their child home back again.

Chapter 2: Dont Phunk with my Heart

Chapter two starts out by talking about two decades ago when women might not have known kitchen stores existed. Today, a middle-class woman from the middle of the country not only knows about Williams-Sonoma, but has access to the latest bathroom and kitchen designs and fashions thanks to the Internet, magazines, and cable television.

Today for the contemporary female the kitchen is a place where she can wander among a showroom of gadgets, fixtures, and appliances. The kitchen most of us grew up in consist rooms where we grabbed a snack, ate, or packed a lunch. Now the 20th century would be considered the golden age of the kitchen. Goodbye garbage can; hello, trash disposal. Farewell oven; hello, microwave. And that was just the beginning.

The refrigerator has trumped the stove as the kitchens seminal appliance. Mom, Dad, and the children find their way to the fridge before any one even thinks about the stove. After the refrigerator comes the microwave. Things such as microwavable veggies, prewashed salads, and ready to eat meals have made the kitchen seem more over designed and less used than ever. In America we have seen more kitchen plans, such as kitchen that blend into dens or sprawling rooms simultaneously. Todays kitchens are all made and designed for saving time and labor. Everything seems to all be a short cut.

Chapter 3: Let Us Spray

For todays frazzled female, its the ultimate inner sanctum; the luxury day spa, minus the attendants, the hiking trails, or any obligation to tip the staff. If she has children, its the one space in her house where she can be truly glorious alone and private. Best of all the bathroom has shed its historical associations as a vaguely shameful destination that no women wanted to be observed visiting. Thanks to women, the bathroom has come a long way from its humble origins.

The present day master bathrooms have become a space where fantasy, luxury, and self regard collude in a mist of steam, fragrance, and candlelight. The bathroom is now a transition from the bathroom as a utilitarian fixture to an oasis of self renewal. Not long ago, most bathrooms lacked electrical appliances.

The fact is females have elevated not just the contemporary kitchen, but the bathroom, into places that both recognize and salute their status. Todays bathrooms are driven by the notes and touches installed by hotel and restaurant designers and architects. For instance in Hong Kong, men urinate against a glass wall overlooking the city. The bare minimum for todays high end bathroom is a spa tub of some kind which is more popular than the bathroom.

Chapter 4: Nice Work If You Can Get It

Chapter four looks at the home office. When we were young the office was a boxy, airless place, crowded with extraneous of mom and dad stuff. Clumsy gray file cabinets that had fallen apart still lie on the floor, a Singer sewing machine, or maybe a record player. In 2005, the office topped the homeowners requests as part of the design of their homes. The home office was now an element of the American home.

Whether the female of the house has a full or part time job, the home office and the computer also function as a place where the contemporary woman can surf the Internet. Underhill did some research on what makes a website appealing to females. For one, it has to have some entertainment value. It should also acknowledge what the purpose of being there is in the first place. From the standpoint of web design ongoing maintenance goes a long way. Another element common the female friendly user is the creation of the environment. Another element has to do with time-and-errand saving.

Chapter 5: We Can Work It Out

Now Chapter 5 leads us to the athletic club, not to work out, just to observe. Fortunately for both genders, the contemporary gym has become all about multitasking. Not only is there an overhead TV throughout, but the most desirable treadmills have small television screens built right into them. Attired with headphones, you can jog in place while watching Regis and Kelly. You can also use the stair master while listening to your iPod. Maybe the athletic club brought in all this gadgetry when it realized it had a serious competitor, the female, in the gym. This is because many females have devoted a room in their house to wellness.

Women fulfill a multitude of roles across all societies. After all, a great many people depend on her. The concept of a woman taking ninety minutes to tend to herself is a far more natural assumption than it is for a man. Men and women with high levels of education are far more likely to participate in sports or any kind of recreation. For women, the home gym has everything to do with being present, available, and in control while simultaneously doing something beneficial for them. The invention of the single or double jogging stroller where a new mother can get in her miles while the baby reclines and sleeps probably kicked off this trend.

Again, we have entered an era where females have embraced exercise. Recognizing this, more and more athletic clubs have accommodated themselves to the needs of time starved females, which promises and ninety minute workout in a thirty minute time frame. That said, if a female has her own home workout room, and the desire and money to hire a personal trainer its far easier to maintain a personal relationship in her own home than at a gym. A home gym is all about dedication to an idea, rather than a woman has to conform the issue of dedication itself. Whether or not a female opts to create a room of her own, the home exercise nook is one created with her mind.

Chapter 6: To Love, Honor, and Maintain

Chapter six moves to laboring saving devices and thanks to women the maintence of the house has gotten a whole lot more mechanical. From Julia Child to Martha Stewart, the past several decades have exposed American females to a guilt inducting gallery of we can do it, so can you? superwoman. Just as the birth of the department store in the 1860s exposed a typical middle class person to a selection of goods and services she could aspire to.

Chapter 7: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Chapter seven directs us to the hotel experience for women. Shes thirsty, tired, and for the past several hours shes been fantasizing about those crisp, white sheets await her once her plane touched down. What men and women look for in a hotel experience is a traveling snapshot of what men and women care about in their everyday lives. The only thing males notice about the hair dryer in the hotel bathroom are the aeronautics involved on how the designer got the dryer to mount to the wall. Women on the other hand, would notice the brand, voltage, and also how far the cord extends. She will also note the cleanliness of the room, lighting, temperature, color, flooring, and size. It goes to how firm the pillows are and whether or not she feels safe, emotionally, physically, and psychologically. Women notice this stuff. And many hotels, at least the smart ones, have recognized the power of the female, and are responding. It is safe to say by 2010, every major hotel chain in the wo rld has rechoreographed hotels and hotel services with the single female traveler in mind.

Chapter 8: The Female, Unplugged

Next, we are informed about the female in electronic store, Best Buy. A survey published said that nearly half of all electronic purchases in the United States are made by female shoppers. At the same time, they found women shy away from electronic stores where there is too much stuff to choose from, theres not enough personalized service, even if she manages to hunt down an employee knowledgeable enough to help her. So instead of physically shopping in Best Buy, many females go online instead. In the mall setting, we also noticed the direct correlation between have in increased about of female workers on the floor since there are mostly female shoppers in malls. This also works with men as they are always charmed by a lovely female face. This is because women trust women more. In Chicago Best Buy opened a female friendly store that showed women how to use every electronic in the store. This prompted them to buy more electronics because they were aware of how they worked.

Chapter 9: Women and Sin

In Chapter 9 Underhill looks at the escaping female and explores four stops along the way. The first stop is the American Casino. The casino industry was originally started by men but now a healthy chunk of the industry today is made up of females. Slot machines have become among the female friendly lures of the themed slot machines such as gilligans Island and I Dream of Jeannie. As the female has become the biggest money maker for the casino industry, the slot machine has become less about gambling and more about entertainment.

The business of exploiting the females precarious relationship with her and with her body and face is a multibillion dollar industry. Since 1997, there has been a 162 percent increase in the number of cosmetic procedures in the United States. Next, teeth whitening have also increased and so has the entire food and beverage industry has been influenced and increased by females. As mentioned earlier, the topic of cigarettes and women is in part linked to weight loss. Lastly, the female customer has also transformed the labels certain manufacturers affix to their wine bottles.

Chapter 10: The Empresss New Clothes

The next spot Underhill addresses is the department store and females interaction in it. The time squeezed contemporary female just doesnt have time to shop and gets lost in a department store and thats why the place is nearly empty. Needless to say, specialty stores are smaller and more focused. So in the twenty first century department stores are not closing they are just scaling back.

Chapter 11: Cmon a My Mall

A mall, largely driven by the female consumer, will someday become a complete solution for the contemporary woman. The female is looking for a safe form of escape which involves look at other people. Ideally, a mall should have some connection to the sky, a view out or upward, so her shopping experience isnt just inward. The modern mall needs to provide a far more comprehensive solution than it currently does. The mall has to allude to a place where a woman can get a key made, shoe repair, a plane ticket, and anything else that saves her time.

Chapter 12: Higher Ground

This next chapter talks about the marketplace or farmers market. Women have been the ones responsible for gathering food, preserving it, storing it and cooking it. Looking at it from a nutritional standpoint, women are still the domestic partners doing the majority of grocery shopping and household chores. The organic stuff is slightly more expensive than the sprinkler moistened produce ten yards away, but the market is obviously responding to the movement ignited by farmers markets and by associations females the desire to eat unsullied food, to invest locally in our farmers and tot fell as if we consumers have a personal stake in our cities and towns.

Chapter 13: Drugstores

Inside the modern day chain drugstore and he looks around to see how this place has adjusted itself to women, who make up more than 60 percent of a drugstores customer base. Drugstores are designed around he premise of the mission driven female as caregiver. Almost 65 percent of pharmacists coming out of pharmaceutical college are now female.

Chapter 14: See Me, Touch Me, Feel Me, Heal Me

From the beginning of time, women have been concerned with appearance. The definition of attractive in terms of body shape, may have morphed over time but the female focus on the face, the eyes, the lips, the skin tone, and fragrance crosses all geographical borders. Beauty has historically been a female art form, traditionally handed down from mother to daughter, sister to sister, or friend to friend.

Chapter 15: Almost Cut My Hair

This Chapter talks about females and hair. For the female under thirty, hair is a style and personality issue. Hairstyles are rewards, an end, and a beginning. Many women are known to cut their hair after a romantic break up. Our culture is more and more focused on natural, organic, and the environmentally conscientious. Roughly 60 percent of all adult American females have colored their hair in the past year. Ultimately a youth obsessed culture with an aging resisting baby boomer population many females fear the arrival of grays.

Chapter 16: Off the Wall

Chapter 16 talks about social networking including: Facebook and Twitter. Once female are on facebook, they are driven by creating and fostering relationships as opposed to transactions. Women facebookers tend to post their family photo albums, posts about their day to day lives, and even their pets.

The Video Lounge


This video is an interview with Paco Underhill and he talks about why women are the drivers in todays marketplace. He also mentions the psychology behind female marketing and why women are the dictators in the marketplace in the twenty first century.

Personal Insights

Why I think: What the author wrote is true in todays marketplace because although the world is primarily owned by men, designed by men, and managed by men we expect women to participate in it. Underhill reports on the growing importance of women in everybody's marketplace and what makes a package, product, space, or service "female friendly." As our recent economic problems have shown, women have kept their jobs,while moremen have lost theirs in this recession. Underhill offers a tour of the world's marketplace with insightful observations and practical applications to help everybody adapt to the new realities.

3.Lastly, I would have changed the way Underhill related topics to himself throughout the book.

3. Lastly, it made me think differently about why some things are designed the way they are and look to suit me, the female shopper.

1. Paying closer attention to detail and realizing why things are designed the way they are.

2. Opening my mind and eyes to the expanded cultural, social, and economic influence of women.

3. Realize that those businesses that flourish will recognize the importance of womenin the marketplace.

"What others have said about the book and its author?


Amazon [Customer Reviews]. (2010, July 20). Retrieved from /What-Women-Want-Marketplace-Friendly/dp/1416569952

Stevenson, Seth, Initials. (2010, July 14). Slate [Web log message]. Retrieved from /id/2260306/

Underhill, Paco, Initials. (2010). What women what the global market turns female friendly. New York: Simon & Schuster


Contact Info: To contact the author of this Summary and Review of What Women Want, please email Megan Malone at


David C. Wyld () is the Robert Maurin Professor of Management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a management consultant, researcher/writer, and executive educator. His blog, Wyld About Business, can be viewed at /. He also serves as the Director of the Reverse Auction Research Center (/), a hub of research and news in the expanding world of competitive bidding. Dr. Wyld also maintains compilations of works he has helped his students to turn into editorially-reviewed publications at the following sites:

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