Women’s economic power is rising across the Asia-Pacific region–slowly, admittedly, but steadily–across even the most diverse markets. This increasing level of affluence represent an enormous opportunity for marketers who can create thoughtful campaigns aimed at the growing demographic.
Indeed, the recent World Economic Forum report about gender equality listed markets in the Philippines and New Zealand among the top 20 nations that are narrowing the gender gap. And, according to global management firm Boston Consulting Group, female earnings in China will grow from $US1.3 trillion ($A1.7 trillion) in 2010 to $US4 trillion ($A5.25 trillion) by 2020, while India’s will rise from $US280 billion to $US900 billion during the same timeframe.
Against that backdrop, marketers across the region are recalibrating their approach to capitalise on this cultural shift. Such a change is already under way at Malaysia’s largest bank, Maybank Group.
“In my 25 years in the field of marketing, I have seen women described as a target audience appearing more frequently in strategy briefs, and it has not abated,” said Mohamed Adam Wee, CMO at Maybank Group, which has developed products specifically for women. “In Indonesia, for example, we have a credit card for women. In most instances, the majority of benefits are similar across most of the cards we offer; however, the significance of the women’s credit card goes beyond the distinct benefits that are designed for them, but serves to acknowledge the rising female middle class as a powerful group of consumers.”
The ‘Pinkify’ Pitfall
Connecting with this growing number of newly affluent women, however, can be challenging. One of the keys is to “get into the head and the heart of the audience,” advised Bec Brideson, director of Australia-based marketing agency Venus Communications.
“[Marketers shouldn’t] ‘pinkify’–hoping that if you change the colour palette you are talking to women,” Brideson said. “Nor should they employ reverse sexism–it’s a mistake to make men look like buffoons. Bad marketing annoys everyone.”
Instead of reverting to stereotypes, marketers should take a more nuanced approach by segmenting their marketing spend earlier on so that time, energy, and budget can be devoted to targeting each gender.
That approach resonates for Wee. “Our customer base is almost reflective of the national demographics, with only a marginal skew toward men,” he said. “In almost all cases when we discuss our marketing strategies, we have not broached the subject of disenfranchising a gender. The generation gap and the new Millennial are also appearing more frequently in strategy conversations.”
The best approach when marketing to women is to ensure campaigns are “clear, nonabstract, and consider the qualitative propositions of what is offered,” Wee added. “I, for one, am the more impulsive shopper in our household. My wife is a more pragmatic and considerate shopper, and I have certainly observed this similarity amongst the women and men I know.”
From Campaign To Community
Another way to target women in the APAC region is with a community approach.
“The most important recent change is that marketers are moving from campaign to community marketing programs,” said Krishnan Chatterjee, senior vice president and head of strategic marketing for India’s HCL Technologies. “Smart marketers today are leveraging technology to create communities and thereby driving the entire consumer life cycle experience through these communities.”
Traditional campaign-oriented marketing, he pointed out, is rapidly changing, thanks to the immediacy of the Internet. Chatterjee described consumers’ first encounter with a brand the “zero moment of truth,” at which point the purchasing decision is made.
“Today, with women increasingly holding the purse strings, marketers have a golden opportunity to reap the benefits of a female audience that is far more open to the idea of being a part of community,” Chatterjee said. “Communities are used to drive relationships, starting from awareness to knowledge, consideration, selection, and, finally, to advocacy and loyalty.”
Chatterjee said he believes this focus on community–rather than campaigns marketing to women–will become the single most important marketing technique.
“Given that community is at the heart of the future of marketing, women are the best audience to engage,” he said. “With an operating model that combines necessary operations around analytics, multichannel engagement, and content creation, smart marketing programs are being enhanced efficiently using community creation.”