Men are putting their own masculine stamp on child care, housework and even skin care: Sanjay Tripathy

02 Dec,2013

By Ritu Midha


The financial services sector – especially when it comes to life insurance – is possibly the most challenging when it comes to marketing and promotions. There are restrictions from the regulator on what one promise in advertising and the competition in the marketplace is stiff. For the Marketing 2 Men series, MxMIndia got the views of Sanjay Tripathy, Senior Executive Vice President and Head Marketing, Products & Direct Channels at HDFC Life on whether marketers ignore men, their changing role in the family and targeting them via the mass media.


One often deliberates about the evolution of the Indian woman in the last decade, but not much about the man. Would you say the Indian man has not evolved?

It is not entirely accurate to say that men have not evolved. Even though it is still a metro phenomenon, gender conventions are slowly blurring. Men are formulating a nuanced idea of what it means to be a man. The “manly man” has also been portrayed with a wink these days (eg the recent Mahindra Verito TVC) and men are putting their own masculine stamp on child care, housework and even skin care.


While some men are welcoming the new options that a less prescribed model of masculinity opens up, for others, there is probably no choice. With changing socio-economic status of households wherein the family is nuclear and both husband and wife earn the livelihood, it becomes imperative that the responsibilities be fulfilled interchangeably. With greater influence from western world, people now prefer smaller families and lesser dependence on extended family members. Such a change in equation is what is reflected in advertisements and television programming.


Are marketers ignoring men due to easy accessibility to women as buyers and influencers?

Marketers are not ignoring men, but are increasingly seeing women as key influencers, given the rise of nuclear families and the disintegration of joint families. Whether to market to men or women is mostly category- dependent, but current trends show that decision-making is very often a joint collaborative effort between man and woman. Yes, the number of dual income families in India is still insignificant and the man still controls the purse-strings but the woman’s role as a key influencer today cannot be ignored.


As for segmenting men based on SEC and town class, how do they differ in their aspirations, values and social needs?

They do differ in terms of behaviour, motivations and notions of masculinity. In some ways, we marketers understand the metro male completely, because we are them and we live amongst them and we interact with them on a daily basis. But that does not reflect the entire universe of population. The male population in non-metros has the money and often the exposure to global brands almost comparable to a metro male. It is important today to understand them first to market effectively to them.


And how has the man’s role in the family changed or evolved?

The man, research shows, has changed with the changing familial and social structure. In addition to his role as the provider, there are now additional expectations from him on responsibilities considered earlier as the woman’s domain (eg child care, household responsibilities etc)


As touched upon before, while some men are welcoming this change (at least on the face of it) for most Indian men, it is anxiety-producing!


A product like Lux used Shah Rukh Khan in an ad – would you say that even for small ticket items, men are a target audience – though secondary?

The fantasy element that we commonly associate with Lux (feeling of being a film star that the soap generates) was given a new spin with the use of Shah Rukh (a romantic actor who many Indian women fantasize about). The man was not the TG in this case and he should not be the TG even secondarily for small ticket items unless he has a clear role for the category.


Can men across the geographies be reached through same/similar marketing strategies?

No, one size does not fit all. Men in metros and non metros do differ in terms of aspirations, behaviour, motivations and notions of masculinity as mentioned before. Marketing activities need to factor this in.


Would you say men are getting more individualistic – thus making targeting them via mass media difficult?

While some urban Indian men are becoming less confined to traditional gender roles and more willing to break long-standing norms to express their individuality, it will be some time before we can discount mass media completely to target this mindset. It is, however, a popular phenomenon in the west now and communication to this mindset is thus much more focused


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