Female consumers in the US are increasing their impact as receivers, broadcasters and influencers of key information, according to a research study from Fleishman-Hillard in conjunction with Hearst Magazines.

From her ever-expanding social circle to the unique way she buys across categories, the chief executive officer of American households is wielding her consumer influence like never before, the agency says. Most notable, her role as a broadcaster has greatly expanded, with 54 percent of all women agreeing, “I feel it is my responsibility to help friends and family make smart purchase decisions.”

“During the past few years, we have watched the evolution of women and their sphere of influence,” says Nancy Bauer, senior vice president and senior partner, Fleishman-Hillard. “Simply put, when it comes to the dynamics of today’s marketplace, women have changed the marketing communications game. The 2012 female consumer is a valuable broadcaster and an amplifier of ideas in the marketplace.”

Her role as the family leader has magnified and continues to evolve, and is seen as being less about taking things all upon her own shoulders and more about “leading the team.” Amid the economic adversity that is at the core of her concerns, she is taking even greater control, honing in on priorities and delegating with greater authority. F

“We all must realize that today’s American woman has integrated a pragmatic and purposeful approach to the decision-making process for products and brands alike,” said Marlene Greenfield, vice president, executive director of research, Hearst Magazines. “Therefore, it is important to incorporate more substance and less sizzle when communicating with her. What’s more, crafting the right message and identifying the right media mix requires an in-depth understanding of the target segment and category involved.”

Almost as important as how she makes purchase decisions is who she tells before and after the sale. In 2011, more than 50 percent of women surveyed claimed to regularly influence friends and family to buy or not buy a product or service. In 2008 that number was only 31 percent. Research also showed that women use their growing social interaction and influence in a positive manner. According to the study, women are using all of the communications tools in their arsenal hoping that collaboration will result in a better decision, for herself and those she connects with.

One third (33 percent) had recommended a product or service in the past six months; while 19 percent recommended that someone not buy a specific product or service.

Social networking channels play large and growing roles in the expansion of a woman’s networks and in her everyday life. In less than 12 months, the number of brands a woman follows on Facebook has increased by 12 percent. The study found that 73 percent of women now use Facebook, compared to 65 percent in January 2010 ; the average respondent reported having 187 friends, compared to 130 friends in 2010; and 65 percent of women are a friend/fan of a company, brand or product on Facebook, compared to 52 percent of men.