Decoding Women Consumers: What makes them tick?
Industry experts from Hindustan Times Digital Streams, Schwarzkopf, McCann, Reboot and others on whether brands and marketers are catering to the ‘woman consumer’ just right
It’s a fact well-acknowledged that women today are the power consumers driving almost 80 per cent of the consumer spending. With them being the ones holding the purse-strings for all the majority of decisions taken in the house-hold, understanding the different shades of the women consumer and what makes them tick is definitely of essence.
At a recent event held in Mumbai, Rameet Singh Arora, Chief Operating Officer, Hindustan Times Digital Streams; Shama Dalal, Head of Marketing, Schwarzkopf; Suraja Kishore, EVP & GM, McCann; Anupama Kapoor, Founder and Chief Mentor, Reboot and Ketaki Agtey – Sathe, Marketer and Communicator came together to delve into the discourse of whether brands and marketers are catering to the ‘woman consumer’ just right.
Rutu Mody Kamdar, Founder - Director, Jigsaw Brand Consultants opened the discussion by revealing how women today and their perceptions around important issues in life are rapidly transforming. She reflected on whether advertisers and marketers are really essaying that right. “You see woman being collective in the way they are creating communities around them. They don’t feel stifled anymore and are becoming body-positive. The notions of beauty aren’t elitist anymore,” she said.
Kamdar opined that these shades of women aren’t adequately represented by a lot of brands. “Are marketers and advertisers really sensitive to the change?” she threw in a thought-provoking question.
Arora addressed the stereotyping bit in terms of most content produced. “The largest amount of time of the woman consumer is spent on mobile on Whatsapp and YouTube. Less than 10 per cent content that is produced is produced for women while 30 per cent of the population here is women. But the content is around recipes and there is a lot of stereotyping,” he said.
Kapoor opened up on how the #MeToo movement is positively affecting things. “It’s empowering how reams of women are coming on social media and together battling it off. #MeToo is the third or fourth wave of feminism,” she let out.
Dalal asserted that the very word target audience epitomises stereotyping. “As a marketer, it is a challenge to not have a stereotype today. It is natural debate that one has. We still ask the question, who is our target audience? The very word target audience epitomises stereotyping. Having said that, there is no question about the fact that these are breaking,” she explained and opined that the way marketers are packing products are also evolving. “What’s important to be smart about is that in any kind of messaging/ any product packaging, you need to make sure that you have that one hook which is able to cater to all those layers that a woman has. I think brands today are making the effort to embrace individuality and non-traditional concepts that women have,” she said.
Echoing similar sentiments, Kishore stated that more and more people want authenticity and the change has happened. “Earlier there were no forums. Today, there is big access which is shaping up things. As marketers, we have to spend more time analysing the forces that are shaping up these things,” he said.
According to Arora, advertising to stereotypes is like a vicious circle. “Between the marketer and the agency, getting stereotypes because you’re expected to bring stereotypes and advertising to them, you don’t know where to stop. The biggest reason you don’t know where to stop is because it brings rewards. The truth is that every time a Fair & Lovely advertises to stereotypes, it does sales,” he said. Arora contended that brands that are reinforcing stereotypes simply don’t get rejected by society which remains a problem area.
Kishore remarked that we are putting too much onus on advertising. “Let’s not give too much credit to advertising for influencing society. When you’re on an app like Amazon Prime or another one, you’re simply skipping ads. The future will be shaped on truth and not facts.” He suggested that the way brands and marketers will have to approach this is by pondering over what’s different about your product that is true? “The innovation pipeline today is the most important funnel they are looking at. So I think more and more brands will have to confess what’s good and what’s not about them. Gone are the days when being good is not profitable,” he said.
Speaking about stereotyping in ads, Kapoor and Agtey spoke about how in particular smoking and tea ads, women are shown to be merely having a particular role of wiping tears or domestic care. “Why is it her responsibility?” they raised the question and called on such advertising communication.
Kishore shared his own personal experience of working with a brand and how he had found their idea of communicating oppressive. “When selling the particular body lotion, we thought we had the responsibility to create a society who doesn’t judge a woman on the body appearance. So we told them that if you can’t do that then don’t sell the product. It’s important for brands to understand that you work with society as a whole. And we have responsibility as marketers to champion these thoughts,” he said.
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