There's a capitalist trend tilting the gender scale. My first observation was by chance. It was during a discussion with a bank's marketing communication team. The discussion veered into one its products, which was targeted at women. It's not a product in the typical material sense. According to them, it's a lifestyle. While I was still trying to understand this product, in which some budgets have gone into ubiquitous digital marketing and expensive billboards (which basically flaunt good-looking women and beautiful photography), I was told that they've generated about a N1billion deposit (at the time) from the lifestyle product.
How did they come about packaging a "product" targeted at a specific gender and without tangible offerings other than appealing to habits - as in, gender-specific habits! - and generating revenue?
One of them answered that they just take their usual product offerings and bundle them in a way that makes them more appealing to women. Yeah right!
I figured the problem of understanding the product was with me. I was getting overly too rational that I forgot the targets of the products - women, ladies, mothers, wives, daughters, widow, grandmothers, girlfriends, ex-girlfriends etc., have some very specific, and in this case - commercially viable commonalities that marketers can exploit, without necessarily creating new "products". I suppose I need the backing of science to reinforce the notion that this other half of humanity - stereotypically beautiful, emotional, mushy-mushy, and on varying scale of temperaments, are driven differently. And it's not rocket science to figure these drives. They are as simple as placing premium on colour, on beauty, on community (family too), on specialness - most of which the stereotypical man keep secondary. (Football, beer and ego hormones run differently).
All of these are what the bank simply packaged into a "product" and sell as a lifestyle to women. "We can help you open a current account where you can earn interests that help support your business (Specialness)", "We're looking for our woman of the year to feature on our website or billboards (Sentiment + Beauty)", "We have a special starter pack for customers on this platform (Beauty + Specialness). (These are not exact words but that was the sense they conveyed to me).
It feels random to me. I'm like, so what? As in, so fucking what? You did just that and you've racked about a billion Naira deposit already! The person telling me added that not only the deposits, "some of us got perks for a job well done". Maybe promotion or increase in salary or whatever but I entertained myself with some cynicism - Capitalism is a bitch!
But that's not the point. I suppose one needs to understand that women - now I'm not talking about the stereotypes and gender slurs, have a type of homogeneity - or shall I say, fraternal parapoism, that makes them rally easily around concepts that make them feel special or that premiumise solutions to their needs. (I may be exaggerating too). But yeah, marketers, the usual capitalist suspects, are beginning to exploit this.
Now I've seen 2 other Nigerian banks with women-specific services. And there'll be more.
I’m aware of a new radio station in Lagos - Women FM. Smart move. The opportunities, the media spend, the conversations, the programming. I figured the formula: Radio = Conversation; Women = Conversationalists. Of course, it's not automatic that they'd be successful but the premise of their existence seems like a guaranteed bet. Imagine dem products in the market that interest women, plus the ones that interest all of us!
And with the increasing amount of global conversation around women - feminism, Lean In, child-bride, rape, women-in-politics, women-in-leadership, Malala, (Basketmouth versus ladies that find some his jokes insensitive) etc., maybe we should just admit that we are entering the full age of women, of winning women, of winning women brands.
I'm looking for a business idea that will target women, before this trend becomes mainstream of fades away. I hope the Universe reads internet posts. :)