How has COVID-19 changed the financial situation for women?

Our Winning with Women research highlights a commercial imperative for financial services.
24 June 2021
woman nurse UK covid
Jane Bloomfield

Chief Growth Officer, UK

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Even before COVID-19, gender equality and the empowerment of women were topics of real discussion, change and progression. As the pandemic continues to affect lives globally, we are beginning to see how the women (especially younger women who earn less than £35,000 annually) in the UK are being disproportionately affected… and threatening the progress society has made in recent years.

Gender disparity

A recent report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found women were 1.5 times more likely than men to have quit or lost their job during lockdown. With women also bearing the burden of expectation in terms of care at home, and representing a higher proportion of single-person households, the impact on women around the world has clear societal, as well as economic impacts.

Winning with Women is our latest in a series of pieces Kantar has conducted looking into women’s financial confidence and wellbeing. This year, we have the added impact of coronavirus, which has resulted in both financial strains… and gains. Many people have been able to save more, while others struggle. Financial independence is now rated as the biggest contributor to overall wellbeing, suggesting that financial wellness should be receiving the same attention as physical and mental health.

As we look ahead into the post-COVID era, Kantar research reveals that 50% of women vs 43% men are worried and suffering from anxiety about the future (worried for their families and communities) and that women are worse off financially than men. While 46% of women and 50% of men say they have saved more than usual during the pandemic, the amount saved by the average woman (£2,628) is half what is saved by a man (£5,335). Our upcoming report looks at what people are doing with their money – and how everyone could be better off.

Why is it important for brands?

Brands, social media, and advertising are regularly held to account for the role they play in reflecting, representing and championing women. Is this fair? Well, yes. Because our research shows that brands are still not really listening to what women want or need.

While improving outcomes for society as a whole should be reason enough to tackle inequalities, there is a commercial benefit too. Kantar’s 2018 BrandZ data showed that UK brands that are gender balanced or even slightly female-skewed (according to our research) outperform brands that are skewed more towards men. While most of the brands in the study were skewed male (40%), these actually underperformed (with an average brand value of $3,092bn) compared to female-skewed and balanced brands, who had an average brand value of $4,085bn.

Our 2017 Winning Over Women research also highlighted fundamental differences between men and women regarding how they think about money, how they plan for the long term and how they feel about financial institutions. We found that women’s context was different; they are far more family orientated vs self-orientated, have less space and time to think about their long-term finances, and have a lower appetite for risk. As a result, they are less inclined to invest compared to men… and we identified a £133bn opportunity in the UK for financial brands who could address this inequality.

These are staggeringly big numbers and growth opportunities that organisations have been missing out on by failing to progressively market to and engage with women effectively over many years. As 2020 has moved into 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic has put some of these established inequalities under the microscope – specifically the financial and mental wellbeing issues that disproportionally affect women beyond the virus itself. We can see that these issues have hardly moved on in the 3 years Kantar has been exploring and championing them.

Winning with Women

Download the full report containing more results from our research, as well as our thoughts and recommendations on the longer-term opportunity for organisations to ‘invite and inspire’ women and support them at a critical time. You can also watch our event featuring a debrief of the research headlines followed by a panel conversation. 

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Winning with Women

Winning with Women

Discover how the pandemic has affected women’s financial confidence and wellbeing, and the commercial imperative for financial services.
Learn more