What Ticks for Indian Consumers/ Women – Karthik Srinivasan and Suman Srivastava

03 Nov,2014

Continuing with our extracts from the second edition of the MxMIndia Annual, we present contributions by Karthik Srinivasan and Suman Srivastava.


Look at women as an evolved audience segment


By Karthik Srinivasan


Google, earlier in 2013, said that there are 60 million women in India who are online. Even with a conservative assumption of 40 per cent of that number as working women who have access to one or more internet-enabled device, it gives us 24 million. Latest numbers from Facebook are on similar lines too – about 20 million female Facebook users in India.


If 20-30 million was the addressable target audience, how is India doing, talking to and engaging this fairly sizeable segment via digital channels and social media? The first consideration would be the growing power and influence of this segment. National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), India’s official agency for gathering key statistics, released its last numbers in 2010, where it mentioned that India has 112 million female workers (out of 586 million women, according to the last census).


So, the potential of this segment growing in number is obvious, and immense. The second consideration would be around how women, not just working women, have been addressed in marketing communications in general, in India. A large portion of the communication still seems to be hovering around women as a gateway to the family. If you see product categories such as toilet cleaners and dish washing bars\liquids from the perspective of a working woman who is as busy professionally as the man, she is less likely to be bothered by such trivial tasks.




What a decade for women


By Suman Srivastava


The media is full of stories about rape and violence against women. There are imbecilic statements by some politicians about how the only way to avoid crimes against them is for women to return to the medieval era. In this context, I would like to use this piece to highlight the spectacular achievements of women in India over the last decade or so.


The big narrative about women is that they no longer define themselves with reference to men. No longer are they merely wives, mothers, sisters and daughters. Many have reached the top in their respective professions on their own merit. If you work in banking or finance, chances are high that the CEO of your company is a woman. Naina Lal Kidwai at HSBC, Chanda Kochhar at ICICI Bank, Shikha Sharma at Axis Bank are the best known. Less known perhaps, are Roopa Kudva of Crisil, Aisha De Sequeira of Morgan Stanley and Chitra Ramakrishna of the National Stock Exchange.


While the rise of women in finance has been talked about, the rise of women in technology firms has not been noticed as much. Chances are you have heard of Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairman and MD, Biocon. You may not, however, have heard as much about Vanitha Narayanan the MD of IBM India, or Kumud Srinivasan the President of Intel India and Aruna Jayanthi, CEO, Capgemini India. The list isn’t over yet. Add Kirthiga Reddy, Head, Facebook India and Neelam Dhawan, MD, Hewlett Packard India.




That brings marketers an opportunity to see this from a fresh new light and appeal differently to working women. So, instead of a dish-wash bar that is supposed to care for the hands of women in general, things would change to a working women caring for her domestic help and hence opting for the better, safer dish wash bar! Digital and social media communication enable a bigger, better canvas for one-to-many and many-to-many communication, but they need to stay on course with brands’ overall messaging. The fact that this ‘many’ now includes a sizeable, growing and highly vocal working women segment is a tremendous opportunity to appeal to their specific sensibilities and win them over.


The challenge is, of course, to let go of older attitudes and prejudices against women in general, and working women in specific, and start looking at them as an evolved audience segment, with a fresh outlook towards life, family, men and work, driven by economic empowerment. It’s almost like discovering a new planet. No… not Venus. This is a different planet!




Turn to sports and again you find that women have been doing really well. At the London Olympics, two of our six medals were won by women. Saina Nehwal and Mary Kom became household names if they weren’t already that. A surprising area where women have stood up to be counted is in the village panchayat. Chhavi Ragout made news because she has an MBA, wears jeans and is the sarpanch of a village. But she is not the only one. Several states have reserved between one-third and one-half of all sarpanch positions for women.At the other end of the spectrum are, of course, women Chief Ministers. I can’t possibly write a piece on women and not talk about Mamta Banerjee, Mayawati, Jayalalitha and Sheila Dixit.


So what do you make of Indian women then? Yes, there are ultra regressive diktats being issued by khap panchayats, some religious leaders and politicians. And this is violence and discrimination against women. But on the other hand, we are fortunate that we have some spectacular successes too. Maybe the best way to reduce the negatives is to celebrate the positives. Indian women deserve more than just three cheers.


– The author is Founder & Innovation Artist at Marketing Unplugged, a firm that helps firms create marketing innovations. Contact him via his website: www.MarketingUnplugged.in.



Tomorrow: Tuesday, November 4:  Teens – Ashwani Singla and Aditya Swamy

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