By 2014, women consumers in Asia will control more than half a trillion dollars of discretionary spending power. Of this, $335 billion will be from affluent Asia. The emerging countries in Asia will account for the rest, $181 billion.
This is a key finding in `Holding Up Half of the Sky,' by Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, from Wiley (www.wiley.com) . The author heads the MasterIntelligence Knowledge Panel of MasterCard, which conducts research on the economic and business environment. The book is the first from MasterCard in a series on Asian consumers.
"If a society wants robust growth, women must contribute fully to the economy and lead full social lives," declares Wong in the intro. "No company can hope to be successful in Asia's consumer markets without a deep understanding of the women consumers of Asia." For, they not only have a rising share of consumer power, but also decide more "how, when and what to spend."
No gender rhetoric, this is, but proven by "an analysis of economic performance of all countries in the post-war period". Wong writes that the richest 20 per cent of nations have policies in place to ensure social and economic equality for women, while none of the poorest 20 per cent of nations had such policies.
Trends that the author highlights are that more women in Asia "are pursuing professional careers, and postponing marriage and children". As a result, "Time has become a scarce resource for working women." So, when they go shopping, "they want the experience to be fast, convenient and with minimum fuss." An insight of value for supermarkets and hypermarkets.
Also, the travel bug is biting women in Asia more. The ratio of women travellers has been shifting - from around 90:10 (men to women) three decades ago, it is 60:40 now! At times, the ratio gets skewed in favour of women, as in the case of Thailand and New Zealand; these countries receive "more Australian female visitors than male".
Though India figures in the not-affluent list of countries, along with China, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand, growth between 2004 and 2014 is steep, from $27 billion to $47 billion, in terms of discretionary spending.
In comparison, Australia, in the affluent category, will only grow from $22 billion to $27 billion, during the decade. And Singapore, from $3 billion to $4 billion. While average annual rate of growth of the affluent group will be 1.7 per cent, the `emerging Asia' group will achieve almost 6 per cent.