Emily Tan
Sep 15, 2013

Selling to China's digital divas: Microsoft

SPIKES ASIA 2013 - Believe or not, not all brands have cottoned on to the need to target and cater to the internet's most influential women, and even those who are reaching out to these women may not be doing it right, according to Microsoft's head of insights for global accounts and agencies, Anita Caras.

Anita Caras
Anita Caras

Speaking at Spikes Asia 2013, fully half of Caras' deck consisted of arguments supporting the need to reach out to these ladies. Here are some of the facts she shared:

  • Women are the largest growing economic force in the world. (By 2014, the earning power of women globally is expected to reach $18 trillion, more than twice the estimated 2014 GDPs of China and India combined, according to The World Bank.)
  • Although 25 per cent fewer women than men have access to the Internet worldwide (source: Women & the Web 2012), women are driving the growth in e-commerce. For example, women represent slightly less than half of the online population in the US, but are responsible for 61 per cent of online purchases.
  • Women are also driving the growth in mobile adoption and commerce, in particular. Twenty-two per cent fewer women than men own mobile phones in low and middle-income countries yet, globally, women represent nearly two-thirds of the untapped market for mobile growth (source: The Cherie Blair Foundation, GSMA Development Fund & Vital Wave Consulting 2010).


To understand these women, Microsoft partnered with Ogilvy to conduct a global study involving 9,000 women across nine countries including the US, UK, Saudi Arabia and China. The study found that Digital Divas (the most confident, hyper-connected and socially influential women online) represent 18 per cent of the online female population worldwide but have a disproportionate amount of online influence. They are most likely to share with networks that are nearly five times the size of other women's.

“While these ladies are globally connected, their attitudes and behaviours vary greatly across different countries and cultures,” said Caras.

China for example, has the highest proportion of Digital Divas aged 25-34 (66 per cent) versus 59 per cent globally aged 18-34. They are also more likely than other online women to be employed full time (87 per cent—twice as likely as the global average).

In China, the majority (57 per cent) of Digital Divas are also moms, and they own an average of 4.8 digital devices—30 per cent higher than other Chinese online women—and one device that's nearly guaranteed to be there is the smartphone (93 per cent own one).

One thing brands should bear in mind is that the person they're targeting offline may not be the same person online. In China, 89 per cent have adopted a secret online personality, one that is more outspoken and opiniated than their real-life personality—94 per cent say things online they would never dream of saying offline.

Chinese Divas, said Caras, are the most savvy of Divas and their influence is such that they can make or break your brand. Even when choosing something as basic as a soft drink, these women will do their online research, share about their choices and even follow up on the brand post-purchase.

Armed with these insights, how then can brands target not just Chinese but global Digital Divas?

Be curators

Digital divas are time strapped and suffering from information overload. Many lose sleep to their digital devices and simply don't have the time or energy to trawl through endless inventory, said Caras. “Brands that find, organise and present products or content relevant to Divas’ specific interests or tastes... brands that play the role of editor will appeal.”

Amazon's recommendation engine, Asos's editorial picks and LVMH's Nowness are all aimed at picking out products that their consumers will love from the thousands of products they carry.

Be facilitators

Don't make shopping hard. The most logistically savvy brands make the process of finding, purchasing and returning products fast and seamless—and socially acceptable, said Caras.

Be problem solvers

Use social networks like Facebook and Twitter to provide customer service and resolve issues, not just to shoot the breeze, play games or push products.

One great example, said Caras, is Betty Crocker's cookbook which recommends recipes, helps with shopping lists and helps cooks find what they want.

Be synchronised

Don't be two brands online and offline. “Being a digitally savvy brand isn't just about being digital, it's about connecting online and offline brand experiences so they are one,” said Caras.

Be co-creators

While not interested in running the show, Digital Divas enjoy co-piloting and having an impact on the brands they're most loyal to. Brands who want to reach out to them are willing to cede a bit of control.

Enhance experiences

A brand experience does not and should not end with the sale. Many Chinese Divas go online to read product reviews and to interact with the brand after making a purchase to reaffirm their choices, said Caras. While 98 per cent shop online, use in-store opportunities to target all their senses and create an experience they will come back to the brand for.

Be a deal maker

These ladies love the gamification around finding coupons and discounts and hence rewarding divas for their loyalty and advocacy really comes across strongly. A great example of this, said Caras, is the Uniqlo Lucky Line by Ogilvy.

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