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The role of women in our modern society is undergoing a major paradigm shift. Sixty-six-point-one per cent of them went to college in 2006 versus 37.9 per cent in 1960. In addition, close to 60 per cent of women entered the workforce in 2008, compared to 37 per cent in 1960.

The professional and academic gaps between men and women are narrowing.

According to Melissa Senduk, Group Creative Director of Thailand-based female-oriented e-commerce portal Orami, the closing of this gap means we are entering an era where e-commerce will be dominated by female consumers.

It is therefore crucial for e-commerce players to fine-tune their marketing strategies to target the burgeoning women market, if they wish to remain relevant and highly profitable.

Who is she?

Many of the modern, empowered women are born between 1980 and 2000 – or what we affectionately term as “Millennials”. These women grew up right at the time the Internet took off; they are surrounded, and enabled by technology – and many of them are embracing e-commerce.

The millennial women are also delaying childbirth and marriage; they are more focussed on climbing the corporate ladder – this means they are spending on a wide range of products (besides traditional household items).

“Today, it is the woman in the household who makes a lot of purchase decisions, and this goes beyond traditional categories such as groceries and personal care, and extends to cars, financial services, insurance services and bank products,” said Senduk.

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“In fact, we can say she is the CEO of the household, taking charge of most of the purchasing decisions,” she added.

Within Southeast Asia, women contribute to 80 per cent of all household purchases, outshop men by 20 per cent, and spend 40 per cent more time on online retailers.

And this presents an untapped market of US$2.4 trillion.

How do you reach her?

The Millennial woman believes she can change the world. Brands committed to social responsibility, or seek to inspire consumers, would be more appealing to her.

Senduk cited soap company Dove’s commercial where it portrayed regular women (not models) as beautiful. Another example would be Toms Shoes: for each pair of shoes sold, the company promises to donate a pair of shoes to an impoverished child.

Besides portraying an altrustic image, brands need to focus on the visuals and the UX.

“She expects good design. Whenever she buys a new pair of shoes, she posts it to Instagram. She is collecting her favourite products on Pinterest, following her favourite brands on Snapchat. The visual aspect is really taking over from text, it is the differentiator at every category and at every pricepoint,” said Senduk.

Being mobile-first would be critical to capture female consumers – or any consumer for that matter.

Increased smartphone and mobile e-commerce penetration has made it imperative for brands to design the user experience to be mobile-first, as opposed to desktop.

Senduk also advised e-commerce players not to think about the woman as just an individual, but also the people in her social and family circle.

“Women is the epicentre of brand influence. If you want to target her, you have to enter her whole world; not only the world of her family, but also extending to her friends, colleagues and her peers.”

As mentioned previously, women make the bulk of the purchasing decisions in their household. For example, if she goes to a Starbucks joint with her kids, she is not on buying a frappucino, but also orange juice or hot choco for her children.

“She is able to share her brand experience with her children. If women is their prime target market, brands can go up and down the age spectrum, because women want to share their brand experience with the ones closest to them,” said Senduk.

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When making purchase decisions, women leverage on each other for advice as well as benchmarks. According to Senduk, women are generally united and love to hear from each other, and this can be attributed to the way they are wired biologically. She also cited a research finding that showed 80 per cent of women put their trust in blogs, and 60 per cent actually purchased the products after reading reviews on the blogs.

“Consumers no longer hear from the big brands, they want to hear from other consumers on what they want or like. Let them write the story and tell the story, because it is original, authentic and inspiring.”

Female consumers are expecting more today

Female consumers of are more demanding of brands today. A one-size-fits all approach no longer works for them. They demand customisation such as tailored newsletters.

“Half of female consumers say marketers don’t understand them. So, if you are not relevant to them, they will go somewhere else,” said Senduk.

You need to carefully craft your branding and social media message; find out the language female consumers are using, what trends that appeal to them, etcetera.

And while all millennial consumers generally are more demanding, there is one major difference that separates the male and female: Women consumers see shopping as a form of entertainment, while men view it as a necessity.

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“Shopping is entertainment (retail therapy). You have to make buying stuff fun and entertaining. For instance, males spend six minutes to buy blue jeans, while women take 3.5 hours — and they usually buy more than just jeans. Women see shopping as something fun,” she emphasised.

Ultimately, women consumers are a totally different species from men, Senduk said. Women consumers are the gatekeepers of the households of today, so it is important for brands to inspire and share the values of women.