women's business market

Women’s market: women’s business, a market in turmoil

Globally, women account for 51% of wealth and have decision-making power over 70% of household expenses. Suffice to say that brands have every interest in looking at services dedicated to women to occupy such a market. This was the words of Elisabeth Gore, President of the Global Entrepreneurs Council at the United Nations Foundation: “Women represent the largest emerging market in the world!” These words, spoken at the sixth edition of the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network in Berlin in 2015, still resonate in 2021. Some areas of activity have already taken the turn while others are just beginning to develop.

The sports market and women, a two-speed economy

Typically masculine, however, the field of sport has adopted new strategies in recent years to attract a female clientele. In France, nearly 15 million women practice a sporting activity, i.e. just over half of all athletes (1). They are usually under 30 years old and expect the sport to relax them and allow them to maintain their form. Thus, 24% of women say they do sports to lose weight, while only 11% seek to exceed their limit.

Among the sports practiced by women, running comes out on top. The discipline recorded a 33% increase in runners between 2014 and 2018. To date, there are about 6 million runners, as many as men. (2)

As a result, the share of turnover of sports spending for women continues to grow. Thus, they now represent 40% of turnover, for an average basket of 149 € / year. This amount increases considerably when sportswomen compete. To equip themselves and register for running races, they spend an average of 388 €.

In their purchases, women pay attention to the comfort of their outfit but also to the style and material used. This goes hand in hand with the sportswear trend, wearing sports elements as style elements in a daily outfit. (3)

Recently, fitness rooms specifically for women, such as O-Sport, Lady Fitness or Curves have opened their doors. From now on, we are even seeing the birth of 100% female sports stores to best serve this particular clientele. Among them, Lilysportive or Attractive.

women's running sport women's market equipment

The women’s sport market is estimated by the Union sport and cycle at 3 billion euros (shoes/textiles/equipment). The growth of the market is largely driven by the women’s sports shoe segment. Since 2012, it has jumped by 65%, compared to 8% for sports textiles. It now represents 37% of the sports textile market share in 2017 and 33% for sports shoes. On the other hand, its growth is much higher than the men’s segment. For good reason, the market for men’s sports shoes is already much more mature and therefore much more stable. (4)

If brands are now interested in women’s sport, at the professional level, the recognition is still very different. This is very much affected financially. As proof, the Men’s Football World Cup drains $ 576 million, against only $ 15 million for women.

The same applies to television rights and sponsorship agreements for most women’s sports. Thus, some sports do not even have this type of agreement. And those that exist reach at most millions of dollars. The large majority are below this amount. In 2021, according to Deloitte, women’s sports revenues won’t even approach a billion dollars. They thus remain a fraction of the global value of all sports (male, female and mixed). As a reminder, in 2018, the whole represented 471 billion dollars, or 393 billion euros. (5)

The automobile, when the feminine gains ground

In the same way, the car market, which until then had focused on seducing men, has in recent years become aware that women’s opinion on the matter takes a considerable place in the final purchase decision (6). In addition to the fact that 74% of them use a car on a daily basis and that they represent more than 50% of drivers, women account for 65% of new car purchases and more than a third of them are alone to buy a car. It is also estimated that their influence in the act of purchase amounts to 70% (7). It was therefore urgent to take this into account.

Their purchasing engines? Vehicles with good visibility, easy-to-understand interior controls, powerful connection tools for communications, brighter colors. The builders have started to offer city dwellers full of pep’s. At the same time, car sellers are looking to recruit more women from their sales forces (currently in the range of 10-20%).

With regard to after-sales, i.e. maintenance and repairs, of the 30 billion euros raised in 2016, 16 billion were provided by women, with a clear preference for local garages and a limited interest in the brand of spare parts.

car mechanics car sale car market growth

On the employment side, brands are trying to convey a more modern and inclusive image by increasing the share of women in the workforce. The most advanced in this area seems to be Citroën, which had Linda Jackson as its general manager between 2014 and 2020. One of the few women in the world at the head of a car manufacturer. Since January 2021, she has been CEO of Peugeot. During her tenure, the share of women at Citroën increased to around 35% across all business lines.

That’s more than at Renault, where women make up nearly 25% of the group’s workforce worldwide and just over 20% of the executive committee. In France, the brand aims to recruit 30% of women in technical positions and 50% in commercial profiles.

On the recruitment of young graduates, the entire sector (manufacturers and equipment manufacturers) is around 25 to 30% women. This is still far from achieving equality, but it is much better than ten years ago when women represented rather 10% of the workforce.

Concepts dedicated to women, clumsy ideas?

New concepts related to the automobile for women include OnlyGirls Auto, a women’s car garage, offering, for example, manicure and childcare services in a colourful and refined setting while the mechanics take care of the car. Inevitably, such an idea aroused more consternation than enthusiasm. So much so that the clumsy concept is now closed. This is not the first time that companies have been born on ideas that are feminist but are in fact excessively sexist. (8)

Lately, it is for example the creation of Pinky Gloves that has caused a lot of ink to flow. Started by men, the company marketed pink menstrual gloves to remove its tampons. Useless, stigmatizing, expensive (again) and absolutely not ecological, they caused an uproar on social networks and were withdrawn from the market.

women's market employment automotive industry factory

Fortunately, smarter initiatives are flourishing in many other areas. For example, in the taxi sector, where to provide a solution to the growing insecurity, companies such as Woman Cab or Women Drive have emerged, reserving their taxis to a strictly female clientele. Or networking solutions, such as the Bumble Bizz application which wants to bring a new solution to job search for women with the “swipe” system as for dating applications. Brand objective: to offer a framework of tolerance, safety and respect to establish healthy professional relationships.

Business creation, more and more women entrepreneurs

On the entrepreneurship side, in 2020, in France, 40% of the creators of individual businesses were women. By way of comparison, they accounted for 29% of entrepreneurs in 1987. (9)

On the other hand, the place of women in the management of companies differs enormously between large companies and VSEs. Thus, France is the European country with the most women on the boards of directors of CAC 40 companies. They represent 46% of the members. On the other hand, this reality is to be strongly nuanced. For good reason, this figure is the result of the Copé-Zimmermann law, which imposes a minimum quota of 40% of women on the boards of directors of companies with more than 250 employees. Thus, on closer inspection, we see that only 3% of these companies have a female CEO.

woman entrepreneur general management enterprises

Yet women entrepreneurs perform better than their male counterparts. Women-led businesses have an average gross operating surplus of 8.4 per cent compared to 6.4 per cent for men. Thus, logically, the turnover of women’s enterprises increased by 5.5% on average, compared to 4.8% for those led by men. In the same vein, in 2018, only 3.1% of VSEs led by women were declared to be bankrupt. A figure that rises to 5% among men.

The reason for these performance gaps? Women entrepreneurs are forced to be more resilient and prepared than men. Thus, they arm themselves more, are more resistant to shocks and therefore manage more profitable businesses.

A better place for women in business, a boon for the economy

According to the IMF, eliminating gender disparities could lead to an increase in GDP of 35% on average (10). This conclusion would be valid for almost half of the countries. Four-fifths of such an acceleration in growth comes from the increase in the working population… But for a good fifth of the benefits of gender diversity on productivity.

Reflection continues in the latest GEM Consortium report (11). He states here that our societies place too much importance on improving efficiency as a source of growth. For good reason, taking into account the female factor, it would seem that in reality, the improvement attributed to productivity is explained in particular by the gradual increase in the number of women in the workforce.

fmi inequality inclusion women companies world

Bordeaux women are not waiting to support new businesses and women

Cited in recent years as one of the French cities where it is good to undertake, Bordeaux is also part of the trend of services dedicated to women.

Bordeaux Métropole has had a number of coworkings, incubators, nurseries and accelerators in recent years. Among which the incubator Les Premières, dedicated to women entrepreneurs. With the mission of “removing the brakes” on female entrepreneurship, the incubator is particularly interested in social and societal innovations to participate in the transformation of uses.

Another initiative dedicated to women is the Profession’L fair organized in Bordeaux for several years. It focuses on providing concrete answers to the individual problems of women in retraining.

The Be A Boss forum is also part of this trend. National in scope, the event seeks to boost women’s entrepreneurship across metropolitan France and the West Indies. Thus, every year, dozens of women come forward to pitch their project or business locally. The selection makes it possible to compete at the “Be a Boss Awards” in Paris. In Bordeaux, the event is accompanied by round tables and thematic workshops. As well as conferences honoring successful women entrepreneurs from the Bordeaux scene.

Women’s market, the traditionally feminine also knows how to surprise!

The field of cosmetics is also experiencing its small revolution in Bordeaux with Noxidoxi. The brand offers anti-pollution treatments and dedicated to smokers, the great forgotten of traditional skin care.

Similarly, the women’s shoe market, although already well crowded, has found a niche. And it is in Bordeaux that the creator of this alternative is located. Midnight on Earth designs models of vegan shoes, that is, without animal products. But always with style, quality and at affordable prices. Taking advantage of the relatively recent vegan wave in France and which is estimated at 80% female due to a more marked sensitivity among women for the preservation of their health, animals and their surroundings, Minuit sur Terre has inserted itself at the crossroads of two markets.

female entrepreneurship vegan shoes societal fashion burgundy

A little on the outskirts of the services market for women but still surfing on the women’s market, Bordeaux welcomes Atalanta Lady Chauffeur, a premium chauffeur service for business trips, seminars or wine tourism. This time, the positioning is not to reserve this service for women but to offer this service by women. It then integrates the dimensions of elegance, confidence, discretion and reliability into traditional driving.

In the light of these figures and information, it is clear that places remain to be taken on the market for services dedicated to women. As long as their purchase motivation is well deciphered upstream, without falling into prejudices…


  1. French women and sport, IPSOS study, 23/06/2016
  2. Infographic: where are women and sport in France?, Women Sport, 16/02/2021
  3. When sport gets glamorous, e-marketing, published on 01/06/2006
  4. Women, the future of the sports market, Union Sport & Cycle, 08/03/2019
  5. Women’s sport on track to ‘worth over a billion dollars’ according to Deloitte, Sport Strategies, 19/03/2021
  6. Women in Automotive Sales, Datacar
  7. Women in the automotive industry: today and today, When Women Inspire, 29/09/2020
  8. The “women’s garage”: Focus on this new concept, France Casse, 05/02/2015
  9. Women’s entrepreneurship: 5 encouraging figures, Generali, 08/03/2021
  10. The economic benefits of including women are even higher than previously thought.” IMF, Christine Lagarde and Jonathan D. Ostry, November 2018
  11. GEM Global Entrepreneurship Monitor
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