Published on December 18th, 2009 | by drkkr5
Women Customers !
Mutability or change is an inevitable part of human life and an important part of marketing and advertising of commercial products. Gone are the days, when Indian marketing executives and advertisers communicated with consumer segments dominated by male purchasing capacity and needs. Changing social, economic and employment patterns are making marketing and personnel increasingly aware of the gradual shift of focus from men to women customers. It is true that even in the past; men were not the sole targets of marketing or advertising strategies. Women were also considered to be a target segment albeit a secondary one dependant on male purchasing power. Further, certain types of products were of products like textiles, lingerie, cosmetics, jewelry and kitchen machines were considered to be the domain of woman, the home-maker.
The advent of the scooter and the jeans, introduced a new range of products known as unisex products. Nevertheless, in the 1950s and 60s, motorcycles particularly 350 cc motorcycles were considered to be more masculine than scooters, which were considered to be concessions to the wearers or dhotis or saris and the feminine form clad in jeans was frowned upon. An interesting outcome of feminine preference for the international rain-child of Levi Strauss, in South India was to make the churidar an acceptable alternative for the traditional sari. In due course of time jeans too were accepted. Yet no one thought of treating women, the home-makers as a target segment for home loans.
All the while radical and fairly rapid changes were taking place in the employment opportunities for women, their conomic status and society’s perception of them. The opening up of huge vistas of industrial and business activities, a variety of educational and training facilities and finally globalization, with its IT and out sourcing explosion, provided women with training, gave them a wide range of employment, put money into their pockets and finally earned them society’s grudgingly given recognition as citizens who could contribute to the economic and social well-being of along with being wives and mothers. Unfortunately marketing and advertising strategies have not kept pace with these changes. Business organizations, in the last century were aware of them but not sufficiently so.
However at the dawn of the 21st century, mattersare much better. Today, women are recognized as multiple markets, who buy for their families, their profession, their retirement and their entertainment. Taking note of their qualifications, professions, income and life styles, business and finance organizations marketing and advertising personnel have already become aware of the market possibilities in women customer segments of the market.Several areas like automobiles, communication devices, computers and financial services [once thought to be strictly male preserves] have begun wooing women customers.
In doing so, business houses are taking note of the
feminine psyche and needs. The Reva Electric Car, a battery operated, no gears, two – door, car with a small turning radius and elevated seats to accommodate saris and facilitate easy entry and exit is one of many such examples. Another in the category of personal transport is the Hero Honda Pleasure [no gears] scooter in a variety of attractive colors, which is specifically aimed at women customers, with all women show rooms. The pink, slim, Razr V3 mobile phone of Motorola, which was recently introduced, is another example. The ultra portable ‘notebook’ laptops of Hewlett Packard with their optional women- targeted bags are a third example of industries targeting women customers. ICICI Bank’s Home Loans for women is an example of financial organization targeting women customers.
A recent trend is the exploration of niches, which till now, have been overlooked in already existing marketing and advertising strategies. Marketing and advertising are slowly becoming aware of the fact that women are now capable of making p u r c h a s e decisions with the capacity to pay for products that they decide upon. Belts and wallets offered as incentives for m a g a z i n e subscriptions [once a predominantly male domain] have given place to table-ware and flasks. Financial products like mutual funds and credit cards are being customized to suit the needs of women customers. A good example of this move is LICs Jeevan Barathi Policy, which highlights the ultitasking nature of women’s needs.
This does not mean that the new marketing and advertising strategies are relegating the male customers to the background. There are certain products, where the feminine psyche does not respond to this approach. When Reebok introduced a sports salwar and kameez, Indian women did not accept the sports apparel because they wanted ‘what the rest of the world was wearing. Neither did they opt for the Ms, CTC cigarettes, when they were introduced because ‘they preferred men’s brands’.
A beginning has certainly been made in adapting marketing and advertising strategies to focus on the modern women’s needs but to be successful business and advertising organizations have to be aware of the process of social change underling the current need to recognize the modern woman’s needs particularly in the area of financial products and services..
Though there were some exceptional women in the past, it was in the 20th century that women slowly and steadily entered several male dominated segments of human activity ranging from politics to pole-vaulting [until recently a strictly male activity]; from the police-force to the air-force and from steno-typists and secretaries to CEOs and industrialists. It is but natural that the modern woman desires to be considered on the merits of her achievements as an intelligent individual capable of taking independent decisions and generating an income by market forces in general and marketing and advertising agencies in particular.
Cognizance must be taken of this background must be taken, while planning new products and sales and advertising strategies for selling them to women. The need of the hour is to recognize that she is no longer a person to be advised about what is good for her or to be talked down to. In the present context, her views must be respected. Two recent advertisements epitomize this need.
1) The advertisement in which a woman
asks the male driver to ‘move over and let her
2) The one in which a woman says
“Why should boys have all the fun?”