When it comes to marketing products to women, organisations don’t have a set formula. Even for products like cosmetics, which are mostly women-centric, companies have promoted bizarre stereotypes like skin whitening and fairness etc. However, the tide seems to be changing. The new set of entrepreneurs are changing marketing and advertising strategies to cater to women in the right manner. This is also pushing traditional companies, which for long only saw men as their customers, to target women, particularly in the financial sector.
According to a Nielsen report, the percentage of women making investment decisions independently jumped from 37 per cent in 2013 to 52 per cent in 2016. Women’s contribution to the Indian economy in the last few years has gone up tremendously. Banking and investment industries now see women as potential customers and are even releasing financial products, specifically for them.
At a panel discussion on ‘Marketing to women’ at the Digital Women Awards on Sunday evening, the panelists –Arpita Ganesh, Founder of Buttercups, Shivani Malik of Da Milano, Deepali Nair, CMO of IBM India and South Asia — discussed how marketing works for women.
- Companies like finance firms, that traditionally targeted men, are now looking at women as customers and are devising strategies to cater to them.
- In financial services, women still form a small part in the decision making space.
- Companies are creating a personal connect with its users in order to cater to them better.
- Taking note of customer feedback is key for companies.
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Nair spoke about how Indian women are diverse and it takes different strategies to market financial products to women belonging to different geographical base. “A lot of women in India who earn substantially leave their financial decisions on their fathers, sons, brothers and husbands. And while you would think that bank messages are mostly spam, I was in Punjab to talk about insurance policies to women in around 2007 and there women said that they don’t receive any messages and that they would love to get information through messages. So India is diverse and women of Delhi and Mumbai would be totally different from women of tier two cities. In the financial services space, women still form a small part in the decision making space,” she added.
Even in other industries, Indian companies are making efforts to creating gender neutral campaigns in products that earlier only looked at women as potential buyers. Under media glare, the sexist ads that saw women as objects are on the decline. While all of this is happening, it is important to note that even while ticking off feminism in marketing strategies, companies do it right and don’t play along just because it is buzzing.
With more and more women entrepreneurs joining the startup ecosystem, what’s changing is the organization’s personal connect with its users. A large percentage of these women entrepreneurs began creating new products because they felt that the giants lacked the nuances in their products in the same category. For example, Buttercups came into existence because Arpita Ganesh saw the need for elaborate fitting measures for intimate wear for Indian women who don’t fit in the standard categories. Ganesh achieved that by starting up Buttercups in the online space.
“For us to differentiate ourselves and to bring in fresh narrative in terms of marketing lingerie to women, we decided not to have models on the website. We don’t have models even for marketing. We don’t use sexy as a word in any category on the website and thirdly we don’t use pink, black and red in our marketing anywhere. While we have products in those colours, we don’t use them in marketing because pink particularly has been done over and over and is becoming passé. We have to start breaking the stereotypes that only certain colours work for women.” Ganesh said.
We don’t want our customers to feel that they don’t relate to the model figure and to stress on the fact that we cater to every figure and not just the standard few is most important to us, she added.
“For us, to differentiate ourselves and to bring in fresh narrative in terms of marketing lingerie to women, we decided not to have models on the website. We don’t have models even for marketing. We don’t use sexy as a word in any category on the website and thirdly, we don’t use pink, black and red in our marketing anywhere,” – Arpita Ganesh
Shivani Malik of handbag brand Da Milano reviews its customers’ feedback closely. She highlighted how women today are so well-informed that they already know what they want before they enter the store. “This is the beauty of technology because they already know what’s out there. What we do is constantly listen to what they are saying even during manufacturing the products and it’s only then we bring about changes in the design phase itself,” said Malik.
Shaili Chopra, Founder of SheThePeople.TV, talked about community building through the art of story-telling around women and what worked out for her. She said, “One of the fascinating things for us is to understand the trends of what women are looking for. In our conversations with women across India, we found that women increasingly want to put meaning in what they do and find meaning in what they are trying to do. There is this absolute consciousness that has emerged for women across sectors and tiers.”