Female shoppers offer growth in India

28 July 2011

NEW DELHI: Female shoppers in India are becoming increasingly affluent and independent, offering considerable opportunities for brands, a study has argued.

IMRB International, the research firm, surveyed 9,000 women aged at least 25 years old and all drawn from India's major cities.

It reported that women in urban India earned an average of 9,457 rupees ($215; €148; £131) per month in 2010, compared with 4,492 rupees in 2001.

Largely reflecting this shift, typical household income levels rose from 8,242 rupees to 16,509 rupees during the same period.

Elsewhere, the number of participants possessing a credit card reached 10%, measured against 4% in 2001.

Similarly, the amount of contributors with their own bank account has grown by a third, according to IMRB.

In a parallel development, 43% of interviewees are now directly involved in the purchase process, an improvement on 34% in 2001.

Across this timeframe, the proportion of females taking almost sole responsibility for doing housework also fell from 91% to 71%.

"With the average income of women and of urban households increasing over the years the propensity to spend has also gone up significantly," Ashish Karnad, group business director, IMRB International, told the Times of India.

"Although, there is a strong sense of deriving value for money out of all purchases made, the thought of putting all of the household income into savings is slowly diminishing."

Gopal Vittal, executive director, home and personal care products, for Hindustan Unilever stated the potential benefits of successfully engaging this audience are rapidly increasing.

"With rising incomes and education there is a profound impact on consumption. The rates of growth of several discretionary categories are nothing short of dramatic as a result," he said.

It is estimated that a third of India's 480m jobs are filled by women, and many companies are tailoring their approach towards this demographic.

"We have aligned our strategy, communication and products to women," said Kishore Biyani, founder of Future Group, which owns major retail chains such as Pantaloon and Big Bazaar.

"With the growing aspirations and financial independence of women not only in urban India but in tier two and tier three cities, women are at the core of our business."

"The woman today is buying for herself and for her family.

Tanya Dubash, executive director and president, marketing for Godrej Industries, a conglomerate active in sectors from confectionery to personal care, also championed this idea.

"There remain very few areas of consumption in which the female does not increasingly participate today. Most household purchase decisions are either joint or exclusively female," she said.

"Like in the West, marketing approaches and brand experiences in India will increasingly need to be designed around these insights."

Data sourced from Times of India/Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff