SINGAPORE: Marketers need to consider how their brands and messaging resonate with the growing numbers of single-person households across Asia and particularly with independent single women, according to leading industry figures.

Campaign Asia-Pacific reported figures from the Asia Research Institute showing that within five years Asian countries will account for four of the top ten nations with the most one-person households – they are already 32% of the total in Japan. It also pointed to women getting married later thanks to education and greater financial freedom.

Tess Caven, human experience strategy director at Starcom MediaVest Group, contrasted Asian women's "vehement desire" to control their own lives and to be independent with SMG survey findings that many still thought it was important to fall in love and marry the right man.

Many women thus find themselves trapped between their careers and societal pressures, wanting to make their own choices while not being regarded by men as "leftover ladies" if not married by the age of 27, as one Chinese survey found.

Or as a 2013 ESOMAR paper put it: "She continuously battles with the tension of her public face vs. private face; what should be vs. what I want to be".

The challenge for brands, suggested Campaign Asia-Pacific, was to support these women rather than stigmatise them. One way was the subtle use of language in advertising – Caven thought brands should be tailoring content to appeal to 'independent women' rather than 'single women who have yet to find a partner'.

One example was a Muji ad in Hong Kong that merely "hinted" at a single lifestyle rather than making any explicit references that might trigger outdated assumptions.

Caven also advised using language aimed at improving well-being, as in a campaign for Acuvue Define contact lenses which talked about healthy eyes reflecting inner beauty and reminding women that long work hours did not have to result in sore and tired eyes.

She noted that humour was an approach that brands had so far underused. "Singles here might well be ready for their own equivalent of Bridget Jones," Caven mused.

The authors of the ESOMAR paper cautioned, however, that marketers needed to keep in mind that the modern Asian woman encompassed a melting pot of ethnicities, each with their own cultural constructs.

Consequently an all-encompassing regional platform was not likely to be adequate. "The recognition of the granular differences across Asian countries is more important than ever before," they said.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff