Marketing Idea No. 279: The Changing Face of Asian Women

There are two ways to see the world. By travelling or by watching Hollywood movies.

Its probably fair to say some of our world view has actually been shaped by Hollywood movies. Its also fair to say, most of it is as distorted as a Chinese acrobat routine.

There are countless movies depicting Asian women as this timid creature who is compliant and dutiful, who lives for her husband, whose boundary is defined by her societal obligations and familial traditions and whose joy is her children’s joy. But scratch beneath those surfaces and you will see a murmur of discontent, a desire to self-express and choose, to love herself, to pay extra for beauty products because it’s a necessity and not a guilty pleasure, to apply a different kind of motherhood that ensures the life she had, her children would not. In fact its a country in Asia, Thailand, which is often called the most gender progressive country in the world.

This opens up astonishing new insights and opportunities which brands can tap into. Take for example, the notion of looking younger. A lot of time holding on to youth is shown as a sign of vanity for the rich, insecure, idle woman. But during research it was found that 64% woman in China thinks looking young is important in getting a job and doing well in that job. South Korea has the highest ratio of Cosmetic Surgery in the world (74 cases out of 10,000 people per year). Out of the top 8 nations in the world with highest Cosmetic Surgery ratio, 6 of them are Asian. Looking at other aspects of life like “Love”. 63% women who was interviewed during that same research across China to Indonesia believes in love at first sight. Hence the adoption rate of speed dating and apps like “Tinder” will continue to explode in this part of the world. It can be assumed that with such adoption of modernity, traditional values like wearing a “Hijab” (A religious head covering for Muslim women) will go down. But actually the trend of wearing a “Hijab” and the perception of “Hijab” being a style accessory is on the up.

So brands need to shift from their two dimensional understanding of women where they assume its either all pink, flowery and beautiful or all tradition, family and conservativeness. The modern Asian women is a complex fusion of a lot of dimensions and she is a work in progress.

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