When I skim through the newspapers or any magazine these days, I'm always confronted by an avalanche of advertisements appealing to women. Sure, there are products out there exclusively for men, but the proportion of products for female and those for male are extraordinarily skewed in the former. Which leads me to wonder, what is it about females, that makes them such an easy marketing target? Do women really need all these products? How many different types of mascara does one need with only one pair of eyes?
After much pondering, I've come up with several reasons why women are the target group for marketers. Fundamentally, women love to shop. Don't get me wrong, men love shopping too. But the way men love shopping is entirely different from how women love shopping. We only have a few things we like to shop about. We shop for computer stuff, gadgets, and clothes perhaps. But we hardly, if never, shop for others. You won't see us looking into crystal shops, saying “oh, that would be nice for my grand-aunt's neighbour.” Neither would you catch us buying yet another crockery set that will probably lie collecting dust in the cupboards.
Women, by nature, love shopping. Whether they need it or not, whether it is for them or not. Men, on the other hand, shop selectively. They get straight to that item they need when shopping. Women, they just shop. They may want to get say, a pair of shoes but before getting to that section, one will have to navigate through the make-up counters, handbags section, clothes aisles to get there and they get sidetracked. Moreover, it doesn't help that malls are designed in such a way that you have to make a full circle as the escalators to go up or down are located on opposite ends.
Believe or not, malls are cashing in on females so much so that Wisma Atria at Orchard and Century Square at Tampines have completely redesigned their malls to be devoted to women of today with extensive beauty, wellness and fashion collections. Each of these malls has their strengths in terms of wooing female shoppers. Wisma Atria targets the young and trendy as well as the sophisticated working women looking for brand names. Century Square provides for the modern women with its ladies hub, “Exclusively Hers”. The mall also takes a pro-family approach. Mothers with young children get priority parking.
But seriously, who can blame women? Look at the millions of advertisements out there, telling them they need this and that. One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how conniving marketeers can be. They keep brainwashing women into believing that they never have enough. They come up with more and more products, so that one just has to keep buying to keep up. One lipstick is not enough to create great lip colour, you need at least two lipsticks. And then there are those that provide gloss, those that promise to plump up lips, those that guarantee lasting lip colour that will not leave marks on a man's collar. The multiplicity of a single product can be so bewildering, it is little wonder that women are always on the prowl for more, and yet something more.
Of course, there is always fashion to blame. It seems that every self-respecting woman has clothes for each season, colours and styles to suit the different times in the year. Men do deal with fashion seasons but to a much milder degree. For men, a shirt and pants combo has been in fashion for the last 50 years and will probably be so for the next 50. We have classic styles, whereas women will never be caught dead wearing something that was “so last season”. So you see, every three months, there is this need to update your wardrobe, your make-up kit. One day flare skirts are “in”, the next pencil skirts are the big thing. Is it any wonder then, why it is so easy to rake the money from women? It is a marketing trap that women are caught in. If you don't buy, you get left behind. Because everyone buys, you lose out if you don't. You will be labelled as passé. To every lady trying to stay in the forefront of fashion, that is an absolute no-no.
Perhaps an oft-neglected point is the fact that men don't just buy for men. They buy for women too. So that every jeweller and florist create products for women, when the real target market is both the women and the men. At the end of the day, the ultimate suckers may just be men ourselves, because we don't get it, but we help the women to get it. As long as the ladies are happy, so are we. So perhaps the marketers are not just out to get women, they are pursuing the pockets of men too, it is just that the men still don't get it.