Mumbai: She has spent a few decades worrying about her husband’s heart, the children’s nutritional needs and, more recently, making it big in life—but for the first time in Indian advertising history, the woman is also beginning to think about her own health and pay more attention to her own needs.
Over the last few months, several non-gender specific categories such as breakfast cereal, alcohol, health drinks and even services such as radio have launched products aimed at women. The launches are part of a trend that recognizes women not just as primary decision makers in the Indian household, but also a large enough specialist target group or so-called mega niche that marketers can address.
The new woman: Bollywood actor Konkona Sen Sharma endorses Women’s Horlicks—a variant of the health drink from GSK Consumer Healthcare. The ad ends with the tag line, “Because your body needs you too…”
Sample this: Bollywood actor Konkona Sen Sharma juggles various roles that include work, cooking, car pool duty and taking care of the kids in an ad for Women’s Horlicks— a variant of the health drink from GSK Consumer Healthcare Ltd. The ad ends with the tag line, “Because your body needs you too…”
In another ad, a woman asks the tailor to alter a well-fitting sari blouse so that she can wear it two weeks later after having knocked off a couple of pounds—this, while munching on Special-K, a weight management cereal launched by Kellogg India Pvt. Ltd.
Sula Vineyards recently launched Dia—a sweet, low-alcohol content wine specially for women. And the UB Group launched Pinky Vodka around Valentine’s Day with promotions aimed at women.
While there is little data on the amount of money women spend on themselves, estimates based on secondary data by GSK Consumer Healthcare suggest that women belonging to SEC A and B (the top socio-economic classes) in the top 23 cities in India spend approximately Rs800 crore each year on “looking and feeling good.” This would essentially include spending on cosmetics, apparel, health food and the like. “If we could even get a portion of that spend, it’s not a bad number to start with,” says Shubhajit Sen, vice-president, marketing, GSK Consumer Healthcare. The company is already looking at expanding its portfolio of women’s products this year.
The trend can only gain momentum in the coming years, say experts. “Brands are now looking at women not just as gatekeepers to the household, but also as consumers,” says Santosh Desai, managing director and chief executive officer of Future Brands.
Independent consumer trends firm Trendwatching calls this “Female Fever.” The firm first commented on this in August 2007 in a report that pointed to several instances where companies had started targeting women with specialized offerings.
According to the firm’s website, “consulting firm AT Kearney estimates that women in the US determine 80% of consumption, purchase 60% of all cars and own 40% of all stocks.”
The report cites examples such as soft drink manufacturer Coca-Cola Co.’s tie-up with cosmetic brand L’Oreal to introduce a “nutraceutical drink” called Lumae which has skincare ingredients and is marketed as a beauty brand, not a soft drink. Other examples include Karmi, a regional, dark beer brand produced by the Polish division of Carlsberg Group. Karmi was revamped with pretty packaging and new flavours such as coffee, pineapple-pina colada, and lamai (guava, dragon fruit and mint), to target women.
Some experts say that while individual products might succeed, it isn’t easy to create a category—that means that while one dark beer for women may work, it doesn’t guarantee the success of other beer brands aimed at women.
“Typically, one tends to find that despite the successful launch of a product, it is difficult to create a new category,” says Desai. Which is probably why Kellogg India Pvt. Ltd ensured it was meeting what it saw as an intrinsic need for a weight-management product, with its cereal Special-K. “We still have a lot of catching up to do (with the West) in terms of food products for women’s personal consumption. A lot of decisions are still determined by what the family wants or needs,” says Anupam Dutta, managing director, Kellogg’s India.
Meow 104.8 FM, a radio station for women which was launched in Delhi last year and is now also available in Mumbai and Kolkata, is hoping that the trend will catch on. “Just as people have started accepting that there is a market for products designed for women, data shows that listeners have accepted us,” says Anil Srivatsa, chief operating officer, Radio Today Broadcasting Ltd. “We have started to see some thawing (from advertisers and media buyers),” he adds.
The trend isn’t just about women, says one expert. “This is going to be true of all specialist target groups,” says Anand Halve, co-founder, Chlorophyll Brand and Communications Consultancy Pvt Ltd. “A one-size-fits-all product just won’t do.”