Marketing to Venus, not so tough after all

MUMBAI: Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus sure holds true when it comes to marketing to them. The general presumption is that it is very difficult to know the mind of the woman and what she wants or for that matter does not want. But when heard from the horse's mouth, it didn't seem so difficult so to speak.



In this session of the Brand Summit titled "Woman Power: How to market to women in India," the key speakers were women from different walks of the marketing world. The speakers comprised Godfrey Philips senior vice president Nita Kapur, Café Coffee Day marketing head Sudipta Sengupta, Fem Care joint managing director Sunita Ramnathkar, Kinetic Engineering Ltd vice president corporate affairs Vismaya Firodia, DAKS Simpson country head Reetika Dalal, World gold Council vice president Hiroo Mirchandani and Spatial Access managing partner Meenakshi Madhvani.



The first speaker was Kapur, who said that while marketing to Venus different visual segment options should be looked at, like - age, physical characteristics, geography, socio-economic and socio-cultural class, attitudes and lifestyle and the purpose of use. Kapur detailed the five stages that a woman goes through in her life - student, worker, wife, mother and mother-in-law. "Unlike Mars, each of Venus' four life stages is discontinuous and this comes from the stakeholders in their life and priorities such as parents, colleagues, husband, kids etc in each stage. Hence the main thing that marketers need to keep in mind is the stage the women they are addressing are in and accordingly churn out their plan."



Sengupta on her behalf emphasised on the fact that there were no writings available on how to market to the women and the generalisations that all women are alike is a huge pitfall. "Listening rather than hearing is a tenet, which takes on magnified importance with the Indian woman customer. Hence marketers need to scratch the surface of what she says to decide what she really means. A surefire way of building loyalty to your brand with the Indian woman is to offer her SOLUTIONS rather than PRODUCTS," Sengupta accentuated.

She also said that marketers should realize the woman's priorities and aspirations and that value comes in many forms for her. A woman who may bargain with the vegetable vendor may go ahead and splurge on a Gucci accessory. "By creating co-user connections by connecting the female to one's brand as an adhesive platform yields rich dividends in terms of mass commitment and even brand extension," Sengupta explained.

Ramnathkar's company Fem Care is the one that sells fairness creams to the Indian women. She took the podium by saying that whatever said and done, women do use these creams for themselves rather than for others as every woman has a desire to look good and feel good. She said that the woman today had evolved into a versatile, financially secured and a self satisfied person. A survey conducted by them among 4000 unmarried women of 19 - 24 years of age in the SEC A and B category in nine Indian cities revealed a dramatic change in today's woman. She no longer wanted to be the epitome of exception and indulge in frugal living. She was no longer accommodating and needed her own space and comfort and believed that a big car and a big house were a must for a happy life. She was the decision maker who decided what came inside the house. In 1982 when Fem bleach was launched, it wooed the women of India and today Fem has become synonymous with women.

Kinetic's Firodia went on to say that their scooter was the first scooter that women could ride as prior to the Kinetic, there were no gearless scooter and a woman riding a two wheeler was unheard of. But Kinetic's TG was not the woman - she came as a surprise customer for them. Their TG was the modern educated urban male or the head of the family. While the women customers were welcomed by the company, there was a serious threat they faced - The Kinetic began to be seen as a woman's vehicle. What Kinetic did was not alienate the women buyer but also appeal to the men buyers. They posed Kinetic as a 'Family scooter.' Hence the change in attitude towards the scooter came and both the TG bought it for entirely different reasons.

Firodia said that what marketers should do was to reduce the woman's daily burden so that buying should be hassle free for her. "What women want is simplicity and one should ensure that she is reasonably satisfied with the product and hence nurture brand loyalty. Another thing that is important is the selection of media mix while targeting the woman," said she.

Dalal said, "The millennium has heralded an era of the upwardly mobile woman as she has changed the way she looks at herself and this in turn has changed the way the world looks at her. The end of the proverbial glass ceiling days are over." She went on to say that this has taken place because the gender barriers in the workplace have become a thing of the past. Also, the emergence of nuclear and dual income families have been instrumental in this transformation. The primary influencers for women are the print media, television (ads, serials), brand names, peer group, price, family and kids.

Some of the emerging trends in women's marketing, Dalal pointed out, were:

" Value for money

" Shopping experience

" Convenience

" Variety

" Quality

" Discounts

Mirchandani spoke about how gold jewelry was seen as an adornment and a security symbol for a woman and that was the sole reason why they buy gold. She said, "There are two core consumer groups for Gold jewelry - the ostentatious traditional married woman and the passionate indulgent woman." World Gold's communicative objectives were to make gold a meaningful part of daily life - for a young teenager - trendy and delicate jewelry; for a married woman - traditional jewelry and for a working woman - non fussy jewelry. There was an increase of 16 per cent demand for gold last year and this year the figure has risen to 20 per cent, she said.

The last speaker of this session was Madhvani who belied some assumptions such as women don't read newspapers and that they watch afternoon soaps. She said that women's readership of language dailies has gone up in the SEC A 25+ years segment and that women are multitasking while watching television in the afternoon and hence their full attention is not on the television.

Madhvani pointed out that while it was believed that women shop for household goods only once a month - either the first or the last week of the month was very untrue. She said that shopping was no longer a chore for them - it was quasi entertainment. Another interesting assumption was that women watch only entertainment or movie channels. This assumption again fell flat on its face when Madhvani said that the male-female ratio for watching Discovery channel was 60:40, for ESPN was 67:33 and for Aaj Tak was 60:40. Hence advertisers need to make note of this and not go blindly by popular assumptions when they advertise. She also pointed out that banks and insurance companies were finally waking up to the reality of the powerful woman consumer.

Madhvani ended on a very interesting note showing a clip of a signpost with the words - 'Men at Work' written on it. She said, "How many times have we seen 'Woman at work' signposts? That's because women are working all the time. My message to brand managers is that try to listen and then you will hear!"

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