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Women, who are long accustomed to wearing many hats, are currently serving not just as the family CPO (Chief Purchasing Officer) but as the family CTO (Chief Thrift Officer). As they see their purchasing power eroding due to rising prices they are adjusting spending accordingly. This is leading to changes in spending patterns and priorities.

For the past 10 years, I’ve been saying “For women, Time is the new Money.” No more. Until this recession ends, money is money again. Time-starved women have relied increasingly on convenience products and services to manage their multiple responsibilities. While money is tight, women will feel obliged to forgo the price premiums they have been paying for this kind of help, and take it on themselves to do the labor.

We’re seeing a shift from “store bought” to “homemade” as women trade down from deli/prepared foods to make-at-home foods. And while for some that literally means “made from scratch” others define it quite differently.

Many Boomer women – the first generation of women to work outside the home at almost the same rates as men – don’t have anywhere near the cooking skills of their mothers. They, in turn, have passed down even less cooking experience to their daughters and sons. For most of them, making a cake from a boxed mix instead of buying it at the bakery counts as “scratch.” Same for making boxed side dishes versus purchasing frozen or refrigerated fully prepared products.

By shifting your marketing focus from super-convenience foods like Easy Mac to ingredients and (shredded cheese, jarred sauces, etc) you’ll capture your share of what women now see as “make from scratch” foods. Messaging should focus on the bright side of “home-cooking” – return to the family, bring everyone together, making memories as you teach your kids what a kitchen is in addition to fast prep.

Quick serve restaurants are already jumping on the wagon. “Living on a budget and with a busy schedule doesn’t have to mean sacrificing a great meal with friends and family,” says Javier Benito, executive vice president of marketing and food innovation for KFC. Their Ten Dollar Challenge saves her time and money.

Look for insights into what builders, real estate agents, manufacturers, retailers and e-tailers can do to keep her buying on my blog.

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