What Ticks for Indian Consumers/ Women – Neville Taraporewalla and Sanjay Thapar

10 Nov,2014

Continuing with our extracts from the second edition of the MxMIndia Annual, we present contributions by Neville Taraporewalla and Sanjay Thapar


Coming-of-age of the online Indian woman


By Neville Taraporewalla


Women have become very active online. They have definitely been empowered. And in my view an evolution is taking place. A recent research report done by comScore in India actually found that apart from threequarters of the online population being under 35, women between the ages 35-44 have become power user’s accessing the internet online through multiple devices – be it the desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile leading to be the heaviest users.


When it came to women, it was always believed to be 18-24 college-going girls or young professionals who were the ones surfing the web. However, we are now seeing a very different demographic accessing the internet. It has expanded quite a bit. In earlier days, we never found any women above the age of 34-35 who were deep internet users. Today, that is not the case. Look at the number of women accessing content related to luxury, lifestyle etc.


They are on the web not only for information, but also for research and convenience. The mobile device is giving them the ability to do a lot of things too. 39 per cent of India’s online population is estimated to be women users. I won’t be surprised if there is data indicating that many more women in rural and semi-urban areas too are getting online and the mobile device is enabling them. Having said that, women transacting and making online payments, micro or otherwise, are largely a metro phenomenon as of now.





Targeting Indian women: Are we doing more of the same thing?


By Sanjay Thapar


I often wonder why a group of people is still called ‘target audience’ in marketing. Is it to perpetuate the legacy illusion that marketers are more powerful than the people they speak to? Honestly, I think it is terminology more suited to a military operation than a conversation we need to have today with people who have a (business) relationship with us. On the other hand, having conversations is difficult. It requires give and take.


It needs us to step down from our self-appointed pedestal and work together with the people we once merely ‘targeted’. That is the mistake we continue to make when we as advertisers speak to women today. Not accepting the fact that these women are no longer bound or obliged to merely listen to what we have to say, that they have the option and the power today to shun marketer-speak completely. But look hard at an ad break and you see how newer stories are peeping out from the clutter of the old stereotypes.


The Bournvita mother leads by example while the McCain mom still struggles to provide excitement at the dinner table. Scooty Pep empowers girls to break gender norms while Fair & Lovely still believes that dark skin is the reason for rejection. So while some marketers do more of the same, others are taking bold steps towards defining a new way to start a conversation with women based on a real understanding of what is changing in their lives. A particularly good example is the Dove real beauty campaign.




For instance, are women booking movie tickets online? Yes, of course they are. We see that all the time. Are they buying on large online ecommerce sites? Yes, they are an increasing breed. Earlier, if we saw the sample of people buying from large e-commerce websites – maybe it was 90 per cent males and 10 per cent females, but today those percentages have changed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if 40 per cent of registered user base on e-commerce websites is women.


Earlier online was looked at very suspiciously – today if you are a responsible and trustworthy brand, people are willing to tell you who they are, as long as you can assure them their details are safe. When it comes to handheld devices, there definitely are more top-end devices in the hands of women today, and I definitely see it further increasing.


There are more and more devices which are getting pervasive. The question is what are they doing with those devices – whether they are transacting or not? There are known devils like Facebook and LinkedIn in the urban areas. But there definitely is much more.




It draws from the conversations women are having behind closed doors. And the campaign no longer just communicates a one-sided message – it actually sparks off many conversations related to beauty and real women. There is a growing realisation that these women are not passive recipients of brand communications anymore. More than ever they are becoming cynical about advertising. They are just not interested in listening to advertisers. They want to be heard and have a conversation with their brands.


And, that really was our inspiration and reason for starting ‘The Mom Project’ at Bates CHI&Partners India. We believe listening is the key to shaping interesting conversations. The Mom Project is primarily a formalised listening post created by us. It is then followed by an analysis of what we hear to help us better understand what the Indian mother is all about. That understanding drives our quest to create interesting conversations that our clients’ brands want to have with these women.


While digital as a medium is inherently more suited to allow such dialogue, the challenge, I believe, is to use traditional media to spark conversations. And the ones who do this first will be the leaders of tomorrow.


(The views expressed are the author’s view and in no way does that mean that the organisation subscribes or endorses the same.)



Tomorrow: Tuesday, November 11:  Women – Preeti Vyas and Tushar Vyas and Harish Nair


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