JWT study on ‘female capital’ suggests brands should rethink how they engage with women in China and India

Beauty as powerA study on women by ad agency J. Walter Thompson that aims to define ‘female capital’ – the value of women as consumers and wealth creators – has found that Chinese and Indian women are more likely than any of nine countries studied to be the major household breadwinners.

The global study of 4,300 women found that generation X women in India and China are more likely than their equivalents in the US, Australia, Brazil, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Russia and South Africa to be the family’s main earner.

Just under two thirds (63%) of women in China and more than a half (53%) of women in India felt that they had been held back professionally as a woman, and yet most women in Asia’s two most populous countries believe they are more ambitious than their male partners; 69% of Indian women and 57% of women in China think this.

But Indian (87%) and Chinese (84%) working women believe more than anywhere that, far from being hindered, they worked faster and harder once they were parents, compared to a global average of 77%.

The study found that Indian millennial females are more likely than anywhere to strongly agree with the sentiment that it is the better time than ever to be a woman.

And of all the qualities that women embody, women in China were much more likely to suggest ‘aggressive’ as a key trait – four times more likely than the global average.

But was also strong agreement with ‘maternal’ as a core trait among Chinese women, which the report’s authors believe explains the cult of the Tiger Mother.

India and China differ hugely in terms of the impression that media has on female audiences. In China, 57% of women said female role models in films and TV had inspired them to be more assertive, whereas that proportion was just 29% in India, home of Bollywood.

SK-II film

SK-II’s #ChangeDestiny film

Brands in India and China have grown bolder in their attempts to capture the zeitgeist of increasingly empowered women of late. A film by SK-II tackled the cultural stigma of China’s “leftover women” last month, while Aerial’s ‘Share the load’ campaign in India triumphed at the Effies.

Among the study’s conclusion was that the new spirit of independence and empowerment has inspired Asian beauty brands to rethink how they engage with women, “redefining beauty as power, and adopting a less passive tone of voice.”

Women control up to two thirds of the global $18 trillion consumer spend, according to the report.


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