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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Women's faces just got Lowe's attention

Lowe has released a book called 'Faces' which has studied changing consumer profile among women. With the urban Indian women being the target of most retail advertising these days, her disposable income is being eyed with eager anticipation. President & COO, Lowe, Pranesh Misra agreed and told CNBC-TV18, "If you look at most of our clients in the FMGC space as well as the durables space, the main decision-maker tends to be the urban Indian housewife and we felt that rather than looking broadly, just focus on this target audience."

The book describes five categories Mrs 'Hasmukh' (Popular) (27%), Mrs. 'Pataka' (Cool) (12%), Mrs 'Meri Awaaz Suno' (Attention Seeker) (31%), Mrs 'Gharelu' (House Proud) (18%), Mrs 'Hey Bhagwan' (Moaner) (12%). The question is how is an advertiser going to use this information for his brands.

Misra explained, "For example if you have your brand and you cross-analyze brands across different segments and you find that your brand is doing well, in the segment of Mrs 'Pataka' Cool and you want to influence those women a lot better. Then what you do is, you go deeper and you study what makes that woman buy (that brand) because there is a lot of data in the study, which talks about her lifestyle, her media behaviour, her attitude towards life - all that linkage data is available. So you are able to get a more holistic picture of this woman."

This helps now because more "women are getting into the workforce, as they are getting independent incomes, as they are exposed to more television, which is a good way to learn about a way of life. I think they are getting a lot more independence in their thinking."

Leo Burnett has been doing this kind of work internationally. In fact, last year at the Cannes Advertising Festival, they presented 'Miss Understood', this was a study on how advertisers are getting women consumers wrong or misunderstanding them. The key findings in the international study would help Indian advertisers.

Chairman & CEO, Leo Burnett, Arvind Sharma elaborated, "The key finding is to stop thinking of women as stereotypical homemakers. They want to enjoy humour as much as men or children do. They are described as emotional and therefore very often advertisers think that showing portrayal of emotion on the screen is enough. Now, you have to evoke emotion, not just show emotion and that's the difference between hugely successful advertising and an attempt at being a good advertising. They are participating far more in economic decisions. Earlier, they were participating in FMCG type of decision-making, then they started participating in durables decision-making."

Misra added, "We polled about 10,300 people and of that I think about 1,500 are working women. So now we have the ability to cross analyze and see what is the difference between a working woman versus a non-working woman."

All of this is an effort to involve women in the adverts being put out in the media as now they have greater control of their incomes and chose to spend it any manner they want to. Sharma elaborated, "In absolute numbers, in India, there aren't very many marketing plans that have been tailored to them. The financial sector is beginning to do a bit, automobiles is not yet doing it. But around the world, automobiles do that and you expect the change to come in. But on the other hand, you could argue that indeed they are beginning to get their due, though in a slightly different form - if you go to any of the shopping malls, the proportion of women will be higher on an average day."

Misra explained, "I think the main lesson is that don't look at Indian housewifes as a uniform mass. There are different strategies that can evolve, depending on who you are after and I think traditionally, marketing has been looking at urban housewives in the age group of 25-30 years. I think those kind of variables of target audience should evolve and you should be able to say now, okay what kind of mind does she bring to the party and therefore, how should my brand strategy evolve to fine-tune itself to the mindset of that consumer." Sharma agreed and says, "Stop looking at women as women, look at them as people."

With so many women working in advertising agencies, their perspectives have yet to permeate to the ad campaigns they create. Sharma said, "Men need to change their attitude and we certainly need to give women bigger voices in the campaigns that they are creating."

Written for www.moneycontrol.com

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