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Purse string power

The Indian woman has evolved as a confident and powerful consumer target as she asserts herself much more decisively in purchase decisions for herself and her family. Marketers are taking note reports Anita Sharan.

business Updated: Mar 07, 2010 22:49 IST
Anita Sharan

The Indian woman has evolved as a confident and powerful consumer target as she asserts herself much more decisively in purchase decisions for herself and her family. Marketers are taking note.

She’s smart, assertive yet not cutting away from all traditions. She’s confident — enough to want to look good yet not anxious about looking young; enough to give in much less to her children’s pester power and more sure about what she believes her children need; and enough to express more openly her desire for a better standard of living. For brands and their marketers, the more assertive and self-expressed Indian woman consumer is a huge promise worth wooing.

Evolving consumer
Both working women and housewives are equally important as consumers because of their direct buying power and purchase influencer roles.

According to a study by Technopak Advisers, the growth of the services sector, which constitutes 55 per cent of India’s GDP, has given a big boost to women employment. The total organised workforce is now 30–35 million of which women comprise 20–25 per cent and the share is growing.

This is leading to a big shift in women’s consumption and shopping behavior, paving the way for several opportunities for marketers. The potential for an additional spend of Rs 4,000 crore by 2015 exists, thanks to the sheer increments in spends by women — necessary and indulgent — because they are working.

An IMRB study, Urbanscape 2009, on the urban housewife’s patterns of life and spending behaviour, finds that with growing education among SEC A, B and C, with only 10 per cent of women illiterate on an average, the way the woman sees her role in the family and spending on the home is evolving.

There is a drop in the Indian woman’s belief that her place is at home from 68 per cent in 2005 to 53 per cent now, though 61 per cent say they enjoy spending their time with their family.

“Significantly, women aspire to have better standards of living, with a drop in satisfaction levels on existing standards from 2005’s levels. This will lead to more durables and gadgets purchases as the women want better things in life,” says Vivek Gupta, senior VP, IMRB BrandScience.

The urban housewife is very concerned about the nutritional value of her family’s dietary intake and her own consumption of calories.

“This holds out a lot of opportunities for food brands,” Gupta observes.

The study finds that even as more urban Indian women are visiting beauty parlours, there’s a reducing anxiety about looking young.

There’s a falling conviction that advertising is a waste of time between 2005 and now that, Gupta observes, is increasing the subliminal influence of advertising in buying decisions.

What entertains her?
The Indian Premier League is entertaining, for the first time significantly drawing women to cricket.

That’s because, Gupta says, “IPL combines entertainment and glamour — two strong drivers for Indian women.”

Online gaming is entertaining too. Zapakgirls.com, launched in July 2007, has over 1.5 million registered women users today and offers 2,000-plus games.

Arun Mehra, COO, Zapak.com, says, “Women constitute 20 per cent of Zapak’s total users. In Europe and the US, women constitute over 30 per cent of the online gaming community. More women are also visiting our Zapak Gameplexes to play hard core games and participate in tournaments.”

Television soaps and family-based programmes remains a strong entertainment source.

Increasingly, however, finds IMRB’s study, women are also following news and information. News channels and newspapers are finding significant place in their activity set.

Star India’s research on women throws up interesting insights.

Anupam Vasudev, EVP marketing, Star India, says that today’s urban woman doesn’t believe she has to break any socio-cultural barriers.

“She is assertive in the sense that she knows what she wants for her family, her children. She has empowered herself in the decisions she takes. Significantly, she also participates actively in the family’s financial investment decisions.”