AdAsia: Why market to women consumers?

04 Nov,2011

By Akash Raha

Does being a man or a woman define shopping habits? Moreover, are Asian women different from women across the globe and hence, are their buying habits different? The session ‘Marketing to Women Consumers in Asia’, discussing these and other points, examined typical traits of the Asian woman consumer. The speakers at this session were Abheek Singhi, BCG India and Yeonhee Kim, BCG Korea.

The speakers talked about the significant political and financial changes that are happening around the globe, and women are not alienated from these changes. As a matter of fact, significant changes are happening in the behavioural aspects of women in general and women consumers per se. Research by BCG on women consumers, the speakers noted, has highlighted the necessity of marketing to women consumers. Apart from the revolution that we see around the globe, they said, a revolution is happening with women too. With the change of time, the aspirations and wants of women have changed too. According to the study, women are showing their dissatisfaction and are not happy with what they are getting.

Women around the globe work, and share their household responsibilities with their spouses, but the case is a little different in Asia where they are entrusted with the bulk of the household chores. The chief challenge for women is Asia today therefore is the challenge of time. There is too much demand on time and too much to do. All this compounded by responsibility for the vast majority of household chores. The cultural DNA of Asian women is such that they perform a bulk of the household work far more than in western countries. On a graph, the speakers showed how the happiness and stress level follow a ‘V’ curve for women in Asia where the troughs are quite low.

Yet, women remain a very important segment in terms of spends per year, albeit ignored by marketers. Women control US$12 trillion of annual discretionary spends which is two-thirds of the total pie. And if women are seriously dissatisfied with what is on offer, it is essential to innovate for them. But relevant significant products are more important to women consumers than mere innovation. Hence the mix should be of innovation and significance (value for money spend). Women consumers are more conscious of the price that they are paying and the value they get for it. Considering the amount of money that exchange hands from this segment, it is but ironical, pointed out the speakers, that marketers aren’t focusing on them enough.

That said, it would be a fallacy to generalize, and moreover generalize about all Asian women. There is no one Asian woman but multitudes of them. And marketers will have to cater to them separately. A one-size-fits-all strategy will not work. But there are some of the features in Asian women that remain same upon which marketers can look into. The challenge of time is their main constraint. Yet, Asian women are optimistic about their future, community, life, family and country. In Asian countries, women are comparatively more dependent on their spouses (in terms of money) as compared to global figures. Even in Asia, there are so many countries with so many different ethnicities, motivation, per capita income, GDP etc. The one point remains, that women in general have a high quotient of influencing buy. Hence it is important that they are kept in mind while planning a marketing strategy. Moreover, the psyche of woman in each of the Asian countries have to be researched upon to truly understand how, what and when they buy and then these research data can then be leveraged upon.

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