Ujaya Shakya
Apr 14, 2014

Dispatch from Nepal: Staying relevant to supermoms

Even in a traditional society, marketing must adapt to the evolving role women play.

Ujaya Shakya
Ujaya Shakya

As marketers in the subcontinent, we are a keen observant of women because they are a core target audience for many brands we work for. These women make most purchase decisions for the major portion of consumer-goods brands that are in day-to-day use by their family. And I am sure, most marketers will agree on this.

But have we realized that the role of the women is changing even in our part of the world. Coming from the indigenous Newar community in Kathmandu, my immediate frame of reference is my mother, who has sacrificed for her family. Her identity is directly linked with my father, and primacy of motherhood is her mantra. She is strongly rooted in traditional values. This reflects in her language, her gestures and her choice of clothes. She believes that a woman's place is at home, taking care of her children and family in the best possible way. She is completely dependent on her husband for herself and her family's well-being. She never wants to venture beyond her safe zone and strives to keep her family happy and well-fed.

Contrary to this, many present-day women coming from the same society are housewives with multitasking skills. For her, motherhood is a partnership which she shares with her husband. Even though life might still revolve around her husband, her children and the household chores, she seeks ways and means to escape the routine. In the given surroundings, she even insists on becoming a working lady. Her husband emerges as her anchor, with whom she shares a partnership. She doesn't like to be tied down to just doing housekeeping jobs and likes to have a life beyond home. She loves exhibiting her new luxuries within her circle of friends and neighbours—be it her new jewelleries or her designer saris.

It is common now to come across women working in businesses or professional careers as doctors, journalists, political leaders and many more. Even in our society, she is gradually abandoning the housewife façade and entering the work force with stronger presence. She is no longer just the secretary in the company but the CEO in a large bank or other company.

Traditionally as marketers, we have mostly portrayed women as housewives taking care of their household chores and children while their husbands are the key wage earners in the family. In the contemporary society, things have changed; women are now working outside their homes to contribute to their household incomes. Therefore, our frame of reference needs to change from a traditional mother to multitasking 'supermoms'. Because for her, homemaking skills are not enough; she needs to be seen as the "taking charge" wife who is partnering and contributing with her husband in creating a cheerful family life. But at the same time, traditional values are equally relevant to her. She feels that she needs tradition in her life, because it stands for something larger than just rules—it means culture, respect, belief in God, values and principles.

Even in the subcontinent, which is a supposedly closed society for women, we need to start acknowledging them now in their new avatar. Contrary to popular stereotypes of women being predominantly family focused in their consumption, with expected purchase decisions limited to FMCG purchases and fashion and beauty brands, we see that with growing income of her own she is now indulging actively in purchase decisions of more white goods and other products that directly reflect in her household requirements. And not to forget, she is still in charge of her household purse and homemaking still remains her territory.

As brand custodians, we should look to win their hearts and minds by tailoring our brand messages to these empowered, adventurous, yet rooted in tradition, new age supermoms. Only those brands that can make her identify with our key protagonist will be able to create brand relevance in her life. We should not forget her growing earning power, high level of knowledge and of course, control in her family finances.

Ujaya Shakya is the managing director of Outreach Nepal. He is a communication entrepreneur, speaker and brand evangelist. You can tweet him your comments at @shakyau or reach him at [email protected]


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