Advertisers may have the wrong end of the stick when it comes to women

Advertisers rightly believe that the real purchasing power in a household lies with women. Then why are they so patronizing towards them, asks Suchetana Bauri.

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Women-centric prime time shows

I have never been quite so simultaneously awed by and furious with ad breaks as I have been of late. How can it be so informative on such matters as reproductive choices of women and yet in same slot have outrageous fairness cream ads and silly shampoo and toothpaste ads?

A run-down through the top shows on the most popular channels, and one finds that men are the second sex when it comes to television viewership. Balika Vadhu, Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon… Ek Baar Phir, Qubool Hai, Bade Acche Lagte Hai and Tumhari Paakhi are big-hitters on Star Plus, Sony Entertainment, Zee and Colors.

All the shows revolve around the same plot of a supposedly flawed woman looking for love with the wrong men. This has had an obvious impact on advertisers: women become more important to advertisers who want to reach viewers with control over disposable income.

The TV advertising division

The evolution of the ad market suggests a fait accompli: the obsolescence of the male consumer. Television commercials with the focus on males are mostly to be found on news and sports channels. News and sports channels have commercials on cars, jeeps, tyres, insurance, banking, airlines, travel, cellphones and other such supposed manly products.

However, things are about to change. Next weekend, when the Mumbai Indians and the Kolkata Knight Riders go head-to-head in the seventh season of IPL, more women are expected to tune into the game than ever before. Traditionally cricket has been a draw primarily for men, but with the IPL there has been a boom in interest among women.

Increase in purchasing power of women consumers

The reason behind this tilt is simply that more women with disposable incomes are watching television these days. The other factor: The recovery from the recession is benefiting women more than men. During the recession fewer women lost jobs compared to their male counterparts, which means that they had more savings to spend. Besides, in almost all households women control the family finances – they make all the major purchasing decisions and control the TV remote a lot of the time.

But, this strategy could be costing advertisers millions. Why ghettoize women to mass entertainment channels? And trust me women also love cars, so we can have car ads on in those channels and similarly (however, irritating it may be) there should be cosmetic products ads on news channels and sports channels too!

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