Marketers are targeting women in more and different ways: Lynn de Souza

01 Jun,2012

By Ritu Midha


It is an oft-mentioned fact that Indian women have taken a generation’s leap, and are making steady strides towards exploring their full potential. This, indeed holds more true of the urban woman than her rural counterpart – and here too her ambitions and aspirations differ from one social strata to another, Nonetheless, evolved she has.


In this interview with MxMIndia Diva Upclose, Lynn de Souza, Chairman and CEO, Lintas Media Group, a woman of great substance, reflects on the Indian women of today, her changing role in the society, and also the women power in media industry.


In your view, how are women defining the new Indian marketplace today?

Women, today, are playing a much bigger role in consumption of products of all kinds be it services, durables, etc than they were doing maybe twenty years ago. They are involved in purchase decisions which require large investments that may include purchase of a house or even a car. Certainly, when it comes to decision regarding durables in the kitchen, and home furnishings etc, women were always at the forefront of decision making and the same was the approach in case of consumer bill items like food. But when it comes to things like financial investments like higher education of children, these were not under her domain earlier. But research shows that a woman today is an important decision maker, an important influencer – and in many cases actual user in these categories and more. And most marketers are, of course, aware of it.


Would you say she is evolving at a much faster pace than her counterpart, man?

The progress that women have made is phenomenal. To give credit to women all over the world, and specifically women in India, they have made progress against all odds. It is not easy in a society where women were not treated on equal footing with men, to come out and perform so well. One expects them to shine in a few sectors, for instance soft ones like nursing, education and services. But in hardnosed professions like politics and finance, it is laudable to see women being there right at the top. It has a lot to do with the education system as well. How much ever we may decry it but women have benefited from it. It also has got a lot to do with the way men have changed in the way they encourage and support women in their career progression. Overall health and growth of economy too has enabled women to come out of the house and still perform.


However, our sisters in rural areas still have a long way to go. There is a huge dichotomy – I have seen women sarpanches in some village panchayats doing fantastically well but then there are villages where women and the girl child are still ill-treated. Even in some pockets of urban India, one gets to witness ill treatment of women and the girl child. However, if one looks at a larger picture, women today are in a much better situation.


Have the marketers taken note of the evolution, and, are they able to keep pace with this evolving consumer?

Marketers are now targeting more and more women and in different ways. About twenty years back, it was the FMCG companies that targeted women by primarily using women’s magazines and the general interest television, largely soaps. However, more and more products are being launched today that target women, including from sectors such as finance, insurance, educational (for children), two-wheelers, consumer durables, etc. One can even see marketers broad-basing not only their targeting, but also the kind of media they use to communicate to these women.


I recall the way two girls are depicted in the Stayfree commercial – very outgoing and definitely contributing to a progressive society, wanting to see things changed for the better. It is recognition of how marketers are seeing young girls and women where they are not only looking at bringing about a change in their life, but a change in the society as well.


Talking specifically of the metro woman – is the upmarket metro woman at par with her counterpart in terms of purchasing power parity?

I don’t know how you want to define purchasing power parity – there are many ways in which one can do it. If your question is whether a woman can buy as much of products that she likes as a man, I would still say no. She may earn, but not necessarily keep whatever she earns for herself or her children. In majority of cases it goes into the overall household pie. A man is more likely to decide what to do with his income. As shown by research, it is still true for a majority of cases. As for salary levels, I believe that there is a slight difference in the kind of salary a woman earns versus what a man earns in some professions.


Moving on to the media fraternity, it is observed that women professionals are excelling superbly in the way they run a show. What would you attribute this showing to?

In the media and entertainment sector, women have done well partly because it is a creative sector and partly because they have a greater opportunity to shine on the basis of their own capabilities.


In the entertainment sector, women have certainly done extremely well. As for media planning, it is a very small industry. There are about ten or twelve agencies – may be employing 2000 people – out of that many women have made it to the top. Some of it is historical – media planning was more of a desk job and girls got into it in early days and stayed there. Having said that, media is a practical profession and women have done well on that front as well.


You yourself are counted as one among the best in the business. How would you define your journey so far in the industry?

My journey has been fairly long – about 25 years. It has had its movements in rotation. I have been in media, in integrated marketing…I have done a bit of healthcare, launched our knowledge portals…I have also been involved in training. Interestingly, I have always come back to media. The whole business of media has changed now, and I am happy to have been a part of the change. In many ways, I pioneered the change and am always happy to contribute in whatever way I can. I can see the media environment completely transforming itself and this has a lot to do with the world going more tech-savvy. It is great to be a student of media now, and that is what I am doing right now.


Among young women from the current lot, which are the ones that have a promising future ahead of them?

There are a number of promising young women on the creative side of the media owners’ end who are very passionate, very knowledgeable and really wanting to do something for the society. They are not self-centred. As for the media planning industry I would like to mention Nandini (Dias) and Sudha (Natarajan) – both have completely different style of working – but are extremely talented and are doing very well. Another name I would like to mention is Jasmin (Sohrabji) who again is very talented. In fact we have worked together in Trikaya for three years and I still remember the first day she came into the office to work with me. I knew even then that she has a bright future ahead.


Lastly, a question that’s a slight deviation from the professional front: how would you define a Diva?

A Diva is a very special woman who may come from any walk of life – she may be from art, culture, politics or business but what characterises a Diva is her ability to stand out. She has the ability to aspire people to be better people because she herself is an achiever through sheer hard work and talent.


Post a Comment 

3 responses to “Marketers are targeting women in more and different ways: Lynn de Souza”

  1. Nandini Dias says:

    Thanks Lynn for your kind words. Hope i will match up to your expectations…

  2. Mona Jain says:

    I really like the bit about the journey in the industry

  3. Shilpi Das says:

    I really liked this interview… Lynn is indeed a diva herself! Proud to be a woman…