20 April 2015

What Women Want: Part 3 - What's in their pocket?

By Shaziya Khan, VP & Executive Planning Director (JWT Mumbai)

In budget season it is appropriate to consider the views of someone who is fondly called in many homes as “the finance minister”. Because typically the lady of the house is given a monthly budget, which she is responsible for prudently stretching across essentials (“monthlies”), value adds (eg. premium food products for the child), occasional indulgences (eg. beauty care)  and gifts (eg. festive season must haves).

Home “finance minister’s”  savvy:
Past research revealed that there are several savvy measures women naturally, and somewhat discreetly, adopt on a regular basis to manage their finances smoothly. To mention a few -
1.    Women have a ‘secret’ pocket or area where  they save money for personal spends or emergencies.
2.    They keep their ear to the ground to extract value when prices rise eg. instead of buying vegetables from the nearby vendor they shift to buying from the whole sale market (or mandi) which sells cheaper produce but at a faraway location
3.    Buying bulk quantities of high quality farm fresh staples like rice, wheat, lentils and oil and sharing across 5-6 households.
These long standing aspects of home budgeting savvy have now expanded to decision making and aspiration across several other spheres of life.  And interestingly, we notice, that these new facets are no longer discreet and covert, but refreshingly candid acknowledgements by women themselves in a JWT Sonar Survey on What Women Want (SEC A, B, 20-45 years)
Expanded decision making
On decision  making – The JWT Sonar survey across Asia (India, China, Indonesia) reveals that women believe they are the decision makers across a range of products. When asked “in your household, who would make the final decision about which product or service you were going to buy/use?” 70% of women replied “Me” for the following categories:  Buying a Home appliances, Buying a new mobile phone or smart phone, Open a new bank account. Over 50% of women replied “Me” for: buying life insurance policy and travel. In China and Indonesia the figure is higher – with over 70% of women making the decision on insurance policy and travel.
Expanded pre purchase research

The expansion observed in women’s purchase and decision making power  is closely linked to their being better informed. Our survey reveals that over 55% of women across Asia often do pre purchase research using a variety of digital and non digital resources. The top 5 sources of research are, in that order,  search engine (like Google), recommendations from friends/ family / colleagues, price comparison websites, brand / company websites and advertising. Closely followed by product sample or demonstration in store. (On a related note, a Google study pointed out that women tap 7 sources of information prior to decision).

Thus, for today’s women (“just sitting, we search on mobile, and find everything”), purchase intent and purchase behavior reveals new dynamism and even more savvy thanks to easier accessibility to pre research avenues.

Is there an underlying future trend at work here? The JWT Future 100 report says “feminism is being rebooted in the digital era, across, all generations, with a newly collaborative, open and empowered spirit”.

Ever green prudence and fresh aspiration

Happily, the prudence shown by women in the management of their monthly budget continues.  When asked “imagine for a moment that you were given 350$ (in local currency) what would you do with it?” Generally, Asian women would invest or save it for rainy day.

But the story does not stop at saving and sacrifice. There is another chapter. There is a new and refreshingly bold articulation of financial aspiration among Asian women. Over 40% of women have financial goals like financial independence, advance career, and travel the world. Half the women in Indonesia want to open their own business!
When asked “what was the most expensive item you purchased for yourself?” Jewelry, cars, laptops, and smartphones tend to be the most expensive items women have purchased for themselves. At an average  cost of $ 656 in India, 880$ in Indonesia, 967$ In China.
In sum, the finance minister across homes is better informed and more empowered than before. Her careful prudence for household purchases and innate inclination to invest and save now has the newly added facets of financial goals and purchases for herself.
Initiatives by brands that champion these now overt financial goals and provide savvy and timely enablers so that these goals can be realized will forge a life long connection with women audiences.

This article was first published in Hindu Business Line 6th Mar, 2015

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