Female Shopping Power: 5 Trends Worth Watching
What purchasing trends are driven by women in the U.S.? We consulted our industry analysts and reviewed our proprietary data to find out.
Instant film, buyers of which are nearly two-thirds female and skew young  , is a growing category in consumer tech. Sales of instant film (similar to the Polaroid products of the 1970’s) increased 8% year-over-year in the 12 months ending July 2019, shown by our Retail Tracking Service. Outside of the holiday season, June is the top dollar-grossing month for the category as young consumers capture their milestones, like graduation season and prom, in a unique and tangible way.
Backpacks Are the Answer
Backpacks are fast becoming the new prominent work bag among women, explained Accessories and Footwear Industry Analyst Beth Goldstein. Compared to traditional totebags, weight is more evenly balanced by backpacks, making them more comfortable to carry to and from meetings and while commuting. While handbags and totes declined in the 12 months ending in July compared to previous 12 months, our Retail Tracking Service shows fashion backpacks and lifestyle backpacks grew 13% and 7%, respectively.
Emphasis on Ingredients
Women are increasingly turning to online research to better understand the ingredients in – and the brands behind – their facial skincare products. Our recent Women’s Facial Skincare Consumer Report notes nearly 50% of women surveyed prefer to research skincare products online prior to buying them in-store, citing online reviews and ratings and social media influencers as their sources of information. As product information becomes more accessible, female consumers are using their spending power to ensure their voices are heard; they’re supporting brands that offer natural ingredients and transparency. In fact, 46% of facial skincare users report purchasing products free of sulfates, phthalates and/or gluten, representing a 6 point uptick over the past two years.
Girls Are Gamers
With the rise of e-sports and video game streaming services, gaming is fast becoming one of the hottest opportunity areas for brands to engage with Gen Z. Our data shows 9.3 million U.S. girls aged 13 – 17 play video games, compared to 11.4 million boys.  Among gamers, girls are more likely than boys to play mobile games (95% for girls vs. 90% for boys), and they are less likely than boys to play on consoles and PCs. The top games among girls aged 13 – 17, are Minecraft, Candy Crush Saga, and Pokemon Go. 
Older, Wiser, and More Active
Gen X shoppers are the fastest-growing segment in the women’s active apparel market, our Consumer Tracking Service reports. This group accounted for 25% of women’s active sales in the 12 months ending July 2019, up from 22% the previous year. 
This presents an opportunity for brands and retailers to target premium active products to Gen X consumers who, on average, have a higher income than Millennials and Gen Z—two groups that historically have dominated the category. Additionally, women are wearing activewear as fashion staples beyond exercise, opening the door for more products that are comfortable yet fashionable. It’s worth nothing that while women are major players in active apparel, representing 43% of dollar sales, there is still room for growth; they account for an even larger portion of non-active sales (nearly 60%).
Like what you read? | Subscribe
Want More Insights?
This is a snapshot of our cross-industry insights. To get more insights on your categories, visit npd.com or subscribe to our Insights newsletter, tailored to your industry and delivered to your inbox monthly.
 Based on a Checkout E-commerce analysis of online buyers
 Gamer Segmentation Report, Player Pulse, June 2018
 Player Pulse, 5 months ending May 2019
 Women's activewear sales by group are based on wearer segment (i.e., the end user of the product)