Breaking conventions and stereotypes: The emergence of the new Indian woman | HT Brand Leadership Series

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Breaking conventions and stereotypes: The emergence of the new Indian woman

  • Rutu Mody-Kamdar
  • 10th Dec

Women are the world’s most powerful consumers, driving the majority of household spending with their buying power and influence. Yet, we live in an age where many women feel that they are not adequately understood or represented. Brands don’t really talk to them. Stereotypes still exist, and despite the liberalised world we live in, we continue to put women into a pre-defined grid.

Despite the emergence of female leaders, corporate heads, scientists, and entrepreneurs, we continue to misrepresent women. Just because she’s a boss in the office, is she ‘expected’ to come home and cook a meal for her husband? Just because she eats the right ‘breakfast’, does she become the superwoman who can locate her harrowed husband’s socks? Advertisers continue to draw caricatures of women as the ones who incessantly shop at the name of a sale, as the ones who can’t do any financial transactions without the help of a man, and as the ones whose existence depends on their children winning a trophy in a race. Making a product pink and fuzzy is not the answer to being female-centric. What’s important is designing products through the generation of gender-based data and using real time insights to strike the right chord. There are women who have varied interests. It’s important to factor in all of these.

New rules are emerging. New cohorts are forming. Look around you, and you will see that women are increasingly escaping the grid that we’ve used to define them. The conscientious perfection-oriented woman is now making way for women who are throwing in the towel and are perfectly okay being imperfect. The doting selfless mother figure is now making way for women who are choosing to be single and childless. Women are even setting aside unrealistic beauty standards, and finding comfort in their own bodies. In the age of the internet, a woman is realising that there are many more like her, thereby making her feel more included and empowered.

As marketers, it is important to sit up and take notice of these new traits defining women today. It is important to let go of stereotypes, and to use a more dynamic and evolving model to decode women’s behaviour.

Marketers need to understand that there are many layers that need to be addressed. Instead of simply communicating the functional, practical, and convenient aspects of their products, they need to ensure that women are understood. In the process, we will allow Indian women to not only feel more confident, but also unrestrained.

Rutu Mody-Kamdar
Founder and Managing Director,
Jigsaw Brand Consultants

Rutu is the founder and managing director of Jigsaw Brand Consultants, a strategic research and brand consultancy firm. With a deep understanding of human behaviour, Rutu has helped several companies find a context in the lives of consumers. She also teaches branding and consumer behaviour at universities in India, France, Germany, and Australia.