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BW Businessworld

When 'She' Basked In The Limelight

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The consumer is not a moron. She is your wife,” David Ogilvy famously told marketers. Yet, marketers have consistently missed the point and often alienated women consumers.

So how does one influence this key constituency? BW | Businessworld’s panel discussion — The $150-billion 'She' Economy: Marketing To Women — tried to find some answers. The discussion was the highlight of the launch of the BW | Businessworld Marketing Whitebook 2013-14.

The ninth edition of the book, an essential handbook for marketers, attempts to decode India’s diversity from the perspective of various consumer groups.

The event kicked off with an address by Prosenjit Datta, editor of BW | Businessworld. He began with a Dickensian remark. “There has never been a better time to be a marketer, and there has never been a worse time to be one.” He talked about the new forces in the market that have changed it beyond recognition — be it the rise of organised retail, the maturing of online retail or the social media revolution.

Taking centrestage shortly thereafter were panellists Abheek Singhi, partner and director of BCG India; Neeraj Gupta, director (technology, telecom and consumer-packaged goods), Google India; Anuja Chauhan, well-known author and advertising professional; Dinesh Dayal, COO, L’Oreal; and social commentator and MD & CEO of Future Brands India Santosh Desai.

Ambika Srivastava, chairperson, Zenith Optimedia, moderated the discussion which started out with Singhi giving an interesting spin to the term 'she economy'. He noted that there is no one woman consumer, so it should be called 'shes economy'. “There is an increased participation of women in the workforce and this is influencing their spending behaviour,” Singhi said.

In India, he said, a reported 44 per cent of the spending is influenced by women. The ebullient Anuja Chauhan begged to differ, saying that women influenced much more of the household spending than the figures suggested. “The woman has a say on pretty much everything. She may not be influencing it directly, but she’s influencing it indirectly,” said Chauhan, who came down hard on the stereotypical depiction of women in ads.

Santosh Desai highlighted the changing consciousness of women in today’s world. “Women are increasingly making huge investments in themselves, their bodies and their skills to prepare themselves,” he said.

Dayal narrated the story behind the revolutionary L’Oreal tag line —“I’m worth it”. He said blending the traditional with the modern in products helps in connecting with Indian women.

Neeraj Gupta highlighted the role of the mobile phone in giving Indian women a sense of personal space. “The mobile is like her personal assistant. It becomes an expression of individualism, independence and empowerment.”

At the end of the engaging discussion, the panel unveiled the Marketing Whitebook 2013-14. Seagram’s Blenders Pride was the event’s presenting sponsor; NDTV Profit and ABP News were television partners.

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 06-05-2013)