By Connie Cheng, Executive Director of Nielsen’s Shopper Practice in Southeast Asia, North Asia and Pacific
Female empowerment is growing across Asia as women secure better and more independent incomes, higher education and gender equality. In tandem, women’s spending power has increased exponentially in recent years. According to recent Nielsen research, women now account for approximately US$12 trillion of the US$18 trillion in global consumer spending—compelling insight for anyone interested in who’s keeping today’s economy going these days.
The growth in female spending power will likely benefit a number of sectors, particularly grocery retailers and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) manufacturers. That’s because women have said grocery is among the top three categories they will spend more on over the next five years.
Women today are also big decision makers. Approximately 49 percent of women are the primary decision-makers for food purchases, and 65 percent are the primary decision-makers for health and beauty product purchases, underscoring the significant opportunities for retailers and manufacturers in these sectors who can understand the key drivers and motivators among women and then connect with this powerful demographic.
As women throughout Asia benefit from rising middle class incomes, the key drivers of their food purchasing decisions are evolving. For women in more developed Asian markets, key decision drivers have shifted from price to value, quality, health and nutrition. Conversely, price remains a primary factor behind most purchasing decisions in developing Asian markets such as Indonesia and Vietnam.
Despite their newfound empowerment, female shoppers indicate that wearing multiple hats isn’t easy, citing rising stress levels as they juggle their careers, care for their children and run their households. Stress levels are particularly acute in developing countries where running a household is more labour-intensive and time-consuming than in developed markets, due to less-sophisticated infrastructure systems and support in areas such as health care and child care.
Meeting the needs and desires of the female shopper requires that manufacturers and retailers develop strategies that deliver benefits in ways that matter most to this lucrative segment, particularly as need states change. Convenience, for example, is important as women juggle more responsibilities. Hence, consumption of pre-washed and sliced produce and food and beverages in ready-to-drink or eat packaging are increasing.
Displaying health and nutrition claims more prominently on products is way to capitalize on the rising demand among female shoppers looking for healthy and nutritious offerings. And discounts and promotions are always going to be a hit. When planning promotional activities, discounts on premium categories will resonate with shoppers in developed markets, while consumers in price-sensitive markets like Indonesia and Vietnam will react positively to discounts on regularly shopped items and everyday low-price deals.
Women, regardless of where they live, their age or their stage in life, are connected by a number of common themes, including aspiration, optimism, community and connectivity. While the playing field is more complex than ever, successfully engaging today’s empowered female shoppers requires empathy from brands, as success will hinge on companies’ ability to satisfy evolving need states in these areas.
This article is based on recent research conducted by Nielsen, and forms part of Nielsen’s Asia shopper insights report titled Bag or Byte: Seize the next big shopportunity. For more information, contact Connie Cheng.