The SHEconomy… Investing in Women & The Summer of Girlhood

When it comes to The Eras Tour, The Barbie Movie, The Women's World Cup, Girl Dinner... women are holding the purse strings this summer, and otherwise influence 80% of purchases. Time to start taking their interests & experiences seriously (and make some $$$).

Welcome back to Meagan’s Newsletter: The Gen Z POV, where I break down trends, industries, and tech with a Gen Z lens every other week. I’m Meagan and I’m so happy you’re here. After 2 months of travel, I’m back to talk about a timely topic… the SHEconomy.

First coined in 2007, the SHEconomy refers to a new economy driven by the increase in female consumers in industries like tourism, healthcare, food, beauty and wellness, culture, media, and entertainment.

16 years later… we’re truly living it. Taylor Swift & Barbie are quite literally saving the U.S. economy (even the Federal Reserve agrees). And what do these 2 have in common? They’re taking the interests & experiences of women seriously.

The point I’ll drive home throughout this newsletter is how brands & individuals are tapping into the collective feminine experience vs. just slapping pink on something and saying it’s “for women.”

TLDR: Women are doing the purchasing AND the influencing, especially with the rise of the digitally native consumer & Gen Z creator/influencer. 

We trust what women say, we take action, and then we tell our friends - it creates community & movements, resulting in serious economic impact and value creation.

A few stats on this:
  • Consumer Spend: Over 80% of purchases and purchase influence are made by women, equating to $7T in the U.S. per year.

  • Influence on Socials: Women represent a large % of users on social platforms (57% on TikTok, 71% on Pinterest), but also a large percentage of the people dominating conversations… the influencers.

    • 76% of TikTok’s influencers identify as female. That number jumps to 78% on Instagram, and 69% on YouTube.

Despite this, women represent only 6% of CEOs in the S&P 500. But we’re still finding ways to be heard and represented on every stage. Below I’ll outline examples across entertainment (Taylor Swift), retail (The Barbie Movie), food (Girl Dinner), sports (Women’s World Cup), and startups to drive the point home that investing in women is smart business.

Now… let’s get into it ⬇️

The Eras Tour

As a Top 1% Taylor Swift fan & listener on Spotify, it’s hard to describe the magic that is The Eras Tour… but it’s easy to quantify her impact.

The Economic Impact

If you’re not familiar, Taylor Swift has begun a world tour playing the hits from all 10 of her studio albums, taking fans through each “era” of her life and music. Each show grosses ~$14 million, and she has 131 shows planned across the U.S., South America, Asia, Europe, and Australia. This equates to $1.8Bn for the tour alone in ticket sales, merch, etc.

But the financial impact of the tour is much greater, estimated to generate $4.6Bn for local economics. Women are traveling to see The Eras Tour and buying flights, hotels, meals, and spending the weekend vs. just going to the concert.

  • When Taylor performed 3 nights last month at Soldier Field Stadium, Chicago saw more rooms filled than ever in the city’s history, setting an all-time high hotel occupancy rate — over 44,000 hotel rooms were booked, generating $39 million in hotel revenue alone.

  • For Taylor’s 2 shows in Pittsburgh, 83% of fans traveled from outside Allegheny County to attend, leading to $46 million in direct spending within the city by Swifties.

The “Why”

Now, I’ll explain why women all over the world are traveling to see Taylor Swift, spending thousands on re-sale sites to see her perform.

Yes, hype & FOMO are playing a role — she’s the 2nd biggest artist on Spotify with 99 million monthly listeners & is massively popular right now. You had a better chance of getting into Harvard than getting tickets to The Eras Tour during presale (<2%).

BUT it’s also these 3 things that really tap into the collective feminine experience, bringing us all together to celebrate girlhood & what it means to be a woman:

  1. Her songwriting, connecting women through lyrics and shared experiences: The Best Day off of her Fearless album reminds us all of special moments with our moms, and Never Grow Up from Speak Now is the anthem of every parent watching their kid become the people they’re meant to be. Begin Again from Red brings me back to my freshman year riding the bus to school & the magic of starting anew, where Right Where You Left Me from Evermore speaks to every girl who’s ever been in a relationship that’s ended without closure. Name an experience you’ve felt as a girl, as a woman — there’s a Taylor Swift song that speaks to you and millions of other women who have gone through the same thing, transcending generations. At the concert, we scream the lyrics together, and you just feel “seen.”

  2. Taylor’s personal experiences reflecting success & struggle experienced by women, we see ourselves in her: women know the struggle of being paid unfairly (Taylor standing up to Spotify in 2014 to demand better payment of artists), being robbed of credit for things you’ve rightfully achieved (Kanye West at the VMAs & then again in 2016 with his song “Famous”, having to re-record her albums to own her music), and the importance of using your voice to speak up for the things you believe in (Taylor speaking up about politics during the mid-term elections in Tennessee). Just listen to her Billboard “Woman of the Year” speech, and you’ll understand how Taylor’s struggles parallel those that women face every day.

    been saying this since 2016 in my 1st ever press feature, see the caption!

  3. The internet connecting her fandom to create real community: Each concert seemingly has a new fan project coordinated on TikTok, we’re all trading friendship bracelets with one another, and complimenting each other on our Eras Tour outfits — the concert is a shared experience vs. a solo one. Every night on tour, 30k+ people tune in around 10:30pm ET to a fan’s TikTok live to watch the 2 surprise songs (myself included) that Taylor plays.

Taylor Swift and The Eras Tour accomplish what few brands, artists, and celebrities are able to do — help women reflect on their life experiences (nostalgia), relate to other women in the moment (community), and see themselves in the person they see on stage (inspiration). In doing so, Taylor has been able to capture the minds, hearts, and wallets of women all over the world.

The Barbie Movie

Oh, you mean The Barbie Movie by Greta Gerwig? The biggest opening weekend ($365M) for a film directed by a woman, ever? And where 65% of the audience was women?

Oh yes, that Barbie Movie. But it’s more than just a movie (which I’m going to see twice in theaters…) — the themes transcend the toy and Barbie brand, and the $$$ coming in through over 100+ product/brand collaborations means people are spending outside the theater as well.

The Economic Impact

In the past 2 weeks, I've spent $50 on Barbie-themed Zara merch for me & my friends, and ~$20 on a ticket to see the movie. Not only that, in spending 30 minutes on social media, I'm inundated with Barbie collabs (Crocs, BÉIS, Kitsch, Xbox). Mattel (the creator of Barbie) reportedly makes 5-15% in licensing revenue on all sales, and of course, the brands are benefitting too.

You might be thinking, “but above you just said you shouldn’t just make something pink and sell it to women”… and that’s still true. What’s different with Barbie is what Barbie represents for many women & girls.

  • Barbie’s slogan has been “You can be anything” since the 50s… and this still resonates for women & what we want for our mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends. Barbie went to the moon before women could own their own credit cards IRL… remember that.

  • Barbie also brings back a glimmer of our childhood and, with the new movie, a reminder of just how special it is to be a woman, surrounded by incredible women, and shameless about the things that bring us joy (which may or may not be pink).

The Why

I don’t want to spoil anything, but you leave the film feeling grateful for your mother, nostalgic for the girl you once were, questioning the world around you & the roles played by women, and then reliving it all again on TikTok through the understanding of other women.

Similar to the Taylor Swift example above, the Barbie movie makes you think, feel, and connect with other women through shared experiences — the America Ferrara monologue? Women feel that message, and the weight of it, every day.

That’s why we’re all talking about the Barbie movie, and spending in turn.

Girl Dinner Trend

With 241,500 posts on TikTok in the past month to the trending “girl dinner” audio, 600M+ views, and features in The New York Times, Good Morning America and more… “girl dinner” is taking the world by storm.

It’s basically disregarding what you’d typically think of as dinner (biggest meal of the day, elaborate meals like pot roast, cooking for your family, etc.) in favor of something easy and snackable for one person. Pickles wrapped in cheese? A red bull? A mini charcuterie plate? Girl dinner. It doesn’t have to make sense or even go together, but this is something that millions of women do.

The $$$

Popeyes took advantage of the trend by quickly coming out with their own rendition of “girl dinner” — a menu of only side dishes! And the brand was praised for playing into the cultural moment, with comments like “I have never ran to my Popeyes app so fast” and “IM CRYING THIS IS PERFECT.”

The Why

Cue Beyonce…. all the single ladies, all the single ladies!!! Girl dinner isn’t about hosting, or even cooking for anyone beyond yourself — this is the anthem of single women, opting for ease over anything else. And single women are growing faster than the overall population, choosing to get married or have kids later and prioritize working / financial independence.

And we LOVE knowing we’re not alone in this, that it’s okay to have a lazy night just throwing mexican cheese over chips and calling it a meal. “Girl dinner” may sound frivolous, but it’s been able to connect us all around this shared experience of finding joy in eating whatever little thing you want to pull out of your pantry.

The Women’s World Cup

First, I’ll ask you to take a pause and name a player on the U.S. Men’s National Team… now, try and name a player on the U.S. Women’s National Team.

Even for non-soccer players/fans, you probably know of Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, or the overall hype around the rise of women’s soccer after winning the last 2 World Cups (2015 & 2019). And this summer, the USWNT is back fighting for a third back-to-back World Cup title.

The $$$

Soccer (aka football everywhere but the U.S.) is the biggest sport in the world, and even though women’s sports have historically lagged behind men’s sports in sponsorship revenue, viewership and attendance… things are changing.

  • The fight (and win) for equal pay: Last year, the U.S. Soccer Federation agreed to equalize World Cup prize money & all competitions for the men’s & women’s teams.

    • FIFA distributed $440m for the Men’s World Cup in 2022 and only $30m for the Women’s World Cup in 2019 (although this has 5x’d to $150m for this summer’s tournament — big news!). In practice, this means the U.S. men’s team earned more for getting into the knockout stages last year ($13m) than the women’s team did for winning the last TWO world cups ($6m). Now because of the new agreements, that $13m is distributed evenly to the men’s and women’s team, each receiving $6.5m.

  • Increased investment in women’s teams & leagues: Every year, billions of dollars are being invested in the global sports ecosystem, but less than 1% is allocated to women’s sports. And yet: women’s sports has a large, young, and engaged fan base and its revenue is growing faster than other major sports leagues.

    • New teams like Angel City FC, which happens to be predominantly women-owned by players (Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Abby Wambach) and actresses (Natalie Portman, America Ferrera, Jennifer Garner). This year, the new LA team has seen $50m in committed sponsorship revenue, sold out games, and a 95% season ticket renewal rate.

    • New funds like Monarch Collective, raising $100m to invest in the creation of new women’s teams/leagues: Renowned VC Kara Nortman is one of the owners of Angel City, and after seeing the success of the team, decided to raise a fund to continue investing in women’s sports all over the world — think rugby in New Zealand, cricket in India, cycling in France, and NCAA basketball and volleyball in the US.

The Why

Women make up 50% of the population, and guess what? We like watching sports, and both men AND women like seeing women athletes succeed on a global stage. Women have been underserved as fans & ignored as athletes, and the tides are finally turning.

Ya girl already has tickets to see the Women’s Final for the Olympics next summer in Paris, and I’ve seen every USWNT game in the World Cup this summer… this is just the beginning for the millions of fans betting on women’s sports.

Women’s Startups… by Women, for Women

<2% of VC funding goes to female founders. And more often than not, women are the ones who most intimately understand the problems they’re trying to solve for the masses… because they’ve been through it!

  • Not enough women’s stories being told on the big screen or directed by women? Enter Hello Sunshine by Reese Witherspoon, acquired for $900M last year by Blackstone.

  • Women want to make the first move to create a safer, more empowering environment on dating apps? Enter Bumble by Whitney Wolfe Herd, valued at $7.6Bn at IPO in 2021.

  • Women want to find shapewear in their skintone, body type, & feel proud to wear it as outerwear? Enter Skims by Kim Kardashian, on track to do $750M in revenue this year (<4 years after founding) and recently valued at $4Bn.

The $$$ and “the Why” Go Hand-in-Hand…

The problems faced by women create massive opportunities for female founders to solve from 1st hand experience & build community — Fenty Beauty’s Rihanna creating makeup in every shade knowing that women of color want high quality products, FIGS’s Trina & Heather knowing that healthcare is one of the fastest growing professions for women (83% of their customers) and seeing their nursing friends struggle to find comfortable scrubs.

Name a sector, and I guarantee there’s an underserved group of women being ignored by their industry… and a woman trying to change it. Invest in them.

There are a thousand other examples I could include in this newsletter to further my point… like American Eagle (Maddie & Kenzie Ziegler) / Aeries (Joey & Hunter King) partnering with sister duos for new product launches and marketing campaigns, playing into the power of sisterhood.

I asked a bunch of my friends for additional recs and they had great suggestions ranging from BookTok, to talk shows, to bachelorette parties and weddings, and beyond. TLDR: Invest in women!!! It’s the summer of girlhood, and good business to double down where women hold the purse strings.

And as promised, here are a few things (tech, culture & life) I’m intrigued by at the moment.

  • Tech: Drake’s interactive eCommerce store is pretty cool, powered by a new product by Shopify called Shopify Collective that makes it easier to do product collaborations and drops with independent brands. The store is displayed as a map so you can go between rooms, check out products, and add things to your cart — very metavers-y.

  • Culture: Honestly all the headspace in my brain recently has been either Barbie-related or Taylor-related, so you’ve probably gotten enough of that above. One thing I will note is how much I love the surprise track from the Barbie movie, What Was I Made For by Billie Eilish. I think it’ll win Best Original Song at the Oscars, and in the past 2 weeks, the sound already has 376k videos made using it on TikTok. This other clip from the same song by Billie has 152k videos, mostly compilations of women showing their version of what “girlhood” means. I think I’d cry making one for myself.

  • Life: You’ve probably noticed I’ve been a bit MIA (hence 2 month break from the newsletter)… it’s because I’ve been traveling non-stop since the end of May! I’ve hosted Gen Z VCs events in 8 countries/cities (London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Milan), had a few speaking gigs, and have been getting to know the European startup ecosystem — specifically what the next generation are building/investing in! More to come here soon & from my hot girl summer in Europe.