This post has been updated to note that Beyonce’s tour is now the highest grossing tour.

When I got tickets to see Taylor Swift this summer I texted my niece, whom I was bringing, “We’ll be part of history!” I knew it would be a significant moment in our lives and the auntie/niece relationship. At that point, I had no idea how historical the show would be.  I wasn’t thinking about the economics at the time.  I was focused on how special it would be to see an artist we had both grown up  with – despite the 30 year difference in our ages – belting out our favorite songs.

Billion Dollar Babes

Now, 6 months after sending that text, the Eras tour is on track to bring in over $1Billion USD edging out Elton John’s farewell tour over the summer as the highest grossing tour in history.

As of this Fall, that historic figure  is now surpassed by another artist. Beyonce’s tour is now the highest grossing, projected to bring in $2 Billion according to Forbes.  Beyonce’s no stranger to smashing records for her tours but, as Billboard points out, “This time around, her enormous earnings require no such qualifications, breaking ground without regard to race, gender, genre or geography.”

Adding to the tally of female artists making pop cultural and economic history this summer is director Greta Gerwig. Barbie was such a box office juggernaut, it boosted gross sales for another completely unrelated movie, Oppenheimer which was released in the same weekend.

As someone who has been shouting, seemingly into the void, for years about the purchasing power of women and the people who loved them, this historical moment is only growing in significance.

What does this have to do with business?

  1. We could make the case that pop culture is big business. Forbes is making projections about Beyonce’s concert and Taylor Swift’s concerts have been an economic boon for businesses there. The concert we attended in Pittsburgh was the largest gathering EVER in the city. The Wall Street Journal reported on the multiplier effect that women’s purchasing power had not only for tickets but for other products featured throughout the events like albums, friendship bracelets, and crocs.
  2. As with all pop culture phenomena, a challenge for big brands will be how to harness and replicate the success of this billion dollar summer – what are the lessons learned?
  3. We’ve long recognized male purchasing power when it comes to sporting events or online gambling.  Where has women’s “silent purchasing power” been overlooked?

What ARE the lessons learned?

  1. It’s not about cross marketing. I would say this counts as a lesson reinforced, rather than a lesson learned but  as clients and large organizations want to tap into the purchasing power of women, they need to really examine this cultural moment.  Another movie about toys is missing the point.
  2. It has to be very, very good. Women are hungry for (and willing to pay for) a smart vehicle that takes their voice and concerns seriously, with a great soundtrack to boot. Beyonce and Taylor Swift are giving their fans once-in-a-lifetime experiences (even when they see several shows. ) This, again, not news. When Walmart did consumer research about whether their customers (mostly women) would buy from women-owned companies, they found that 90% of their customers thought a product produced by a woman-owned company would be higher in quality.
  3. Put a woman in charge of the effort. If you or your client is having trouble with #1 or #2, then you may need a woman-owned business to consult with on next steps. Because none of this was a surprise to us.