Finweek English Edition - - COVER STORY -

women make the day-to-day de­ci­sions about where the fam­ily’s cash pile (how­ever small) is spent. Even the more oc­ca­sional, one-off spend­ing de­ci­sions such as the new fam­ily car or the next hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion are ei­ther heav­ily in­flu­enced – or made by – the fe­male.

Ac­cord­ing to AMPS (2011), there are ap­prox­i­mately 18m women aged 15 and above in SA, and 85% of th­ese women are ac­tively in­volved in house­hold pur­chase de­ci­sions, while 54% are the pri­mary house­hold shop­pers. Glob­ally, women ac­count for 65% of global spend­ing (85% in the US); and $20tr in global spend­ing power. More­over, this global spend­ing power is es­ti­mated to grow to a whop­ping $22tr by 2020.

Clearly, t here is an enor­mous op­por­tu­nity for brands that are able to cap­ture the at­ten­tion and hence the purse of fe­males – par­tic­u­larly those who run house­holds.

Ni­cole Zetler, se­nior strate­gist at Yel­low­wood, a lo­cal brand strate­gist and de­sign con­sul­tancy, says that the power of fe­male con­sumers has been recog­nised by busi­ness and mar­keters so much so that in most in­dus­tries, it is no longer a dif­fer­en­tia­tor but a given to have an of­fer­ing fo­cused on the fe­male seg­ment. “Take the fi­nan­cial ser­vices cat­e­gory, for ex­am­ple,” she ex­plains. “In 2002, First For Women made a bold step by en­ter­ing the mar­ket and only fo­cus­ing on the fe­male seg­ment. Af­ter great success, other play­ers have been forced to fol­low suit or play catch up; eg Lady@Out as a head-on com­peti­tor and other fe­male-spe­cific f inan­cial ser­vices of­fer­ings such as Stan­dard Bank’s MyCard and Absa’s Ab­salutely Women In­surance.”

Yet mar­ket­ing to women is not as sim­ple as it used to be – with the pro­lif­er­a­tion of choice, as well as ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion via the In­ter­net – women are far more dis­cern­ing and dif­fi­cult to per­suade than ever be­fore. “In the past, it was all about hav­ing a ‘pink’or ‘ lite’ ver­sion de­signed for fe­males,” adds Zetler, “but the fe­male mar­ket is more in­volved than that… fe­males are seek­ing value and the brands that are demon­strat­ing this value to fe­males are win­ning. For ex­am­ple, Volvo recog­nised the role that women play in house­hold pur­chases and there­fore spent time try­ing to un­der­stand what it was that would really add value to women when it comes to pur­chas­ing a car.”

So In­stead of just shrink­ing their 4 x 4s to ap­peal more to the fe­male seg­ment, the com­pany set about mak­ing the rear seats eas­ier to fold; boots eas­ier to load, and colour-coded the caps of parts un­der the bon­net so that it was eas­ier to un­der­stand the mak­ings of the car. In ad­di­tion, brands need to re­alise that women are not just one seg­ment; there are mul­ti­ple sub-seg­ments in the fe­male mar­ket, in­clud­ing the homemaker, the pro­fes­sional, the young adult, etc.

While some brands may still be drag­ging their stil­letos, Zetler says that many are work­ing fever­ishly to f ind the win­ning for­mula when it comes to women. “We have seen many of our clients set­ting up spe­cial ‘wom­enseg­ment’ spe­cific teams whose sole job is to con­sider how to bet­ter cater to the fe­male seg­ment,” she says. “It’s also com­mon for mar­keters to de­velop fe­male homemaker seg­ments, es­pe­cially in the FMCG cat­e­gory. For ex­am­ple, one of the large FMCG play­ers we ser­vice has given its seg­ment names such as ‘Dot­ing Doris’ and ‘En­abling Enid’.”

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