In a recent whitepaper, The New Voice of the Female Consumer in Southeast Asia, the agency identified an increasing trend towards people choosing self-employment over a traditional working lifestyle.
This trend was particularly true among women, with 36 percent of women across Southeast Asia, self-employed.
In addition, the study found that 47 percent of all online women in SEA are sellers. This equates to 33 million women who opted in as a seller across Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines in 2015. In Indonesia, 55 percent of online women are trading as merchants from their homes today.
“We can conclude that selling and not just buying through digital channels to supplement income has created a new socioeconomic profile due in part to the sheer scale of the activity,” the paper stated.
“The implications of which will shift the paradigm for digital marketers as it pertains to ecommerce for this part of the world, which still supports a very traditional marketing landscape,” it added.
The study consisted of a 10-minute survey across the fieldwork period of August 18-28, 2015. Covering both buyers and sellers, 1,019 people across Indonesia (319), Thailand (350) and the Philippines (350) were interviewed.
Speaking to Campaign Asia-Pacific, Ruth Stubbs, Asia Pacific CEO at iProspect, said the team set out to validate a hypothesis but uncovered a lot more. With the more surprising finidng being the fact that among those who had chosen to become wholly self-employed in these three markets, more than 50 percent were women.
“As an industry, we continue to be challenged to evolve marketing strategy to keep up with fragmentation of what was a core target audience of female household shoppers,” Stubbs added. “The general lack of research for Southeast Asia was actually the final trigger for us to look for ourselves.”
The research highlighted a new segment of women who are savvy and at the forefront of ecommerce in the sub-region, with digital convergence changing the shape of traditional roles and responsibilities for women.
Stubbs added that the impact of urbanization is leading to women spending more and more time away from their homes and families, requiring new approaches to their primary role as a mother and caretaker.
“Yet, as an industry we are still communicating to her as though she still lives in the old world rather than as a social, connected and digitally influential entrepreneur,” she said.
Stubbs added that in 2016, the agency will be very much about redefining digital relationships with the hopes of helping brands reach consumers in more impactful ways.
“We understand that, with these women, content and technology can be drivers of the most powerful conversations in these communities,” she said. “This is a growing movement and one that cannot be ignored.”
Asked what tips there were for marketers and brands hoping to better engage with this segment, Stubbs said the research indicates that access to technology enabling tools that make selling easier—peer to peer networks and their image optimised interfaces, high mobile adoption, the low barrier to entry, payment convenience and a desire to work more flexibly around their family life—is the big clue.
“If a brand wants to communicate with these women, use these channels, support and facilitate their ambitions and you will maximise your impact,” she added.
The report found that buyers more frequently access a greater variety of content verticals with specific relevance (versus general sites), particularly aggregators and social sites. They look for functionality that is easy to use and conveniently located.
Facebook is included in 67 percent of preferences made by Indonesia’s buyers, who preferred social platforms. Lazada represents the most preferred buying platform among aggregators, providing store access to 80 percent of Indonesian buyers.
Sellers similarly seek relevant content and quick and easy functionality that will resonate with potential customers. Reach and cost of access is critical, so they gravitate to more P2P sites as well as social platforms.