The “She” Market

15 Sep
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By Lin Bai | September 15, 2009

There is an old saying from a profitable businessman: “Want to make money?! Make it from the women and children!!” Direct and absurd as this sounds, this is especially true for women in the current Chinese consumer market. Today, this is truly a “she” market.

During the past two decades, the social and economic status of Chinese women has improved dramatically. China’s rapid economic growth has led to greater access to education, better employment opportunities, and ultimately an increased level of economic freedom and income.

Today, the Chinese female consumer has truly become the major driver of the consumer market. As David Lung, Partner, Retail & Consumer Products Practice, Ernst & Young, commented:

“…Chinese female consumers are shaping the consumption landscape in China to such a degree that companies need to have a profound awareness of who these consumers are and what their needs are. Failure to do so may undermine a company’s ambitions in one of the world’s biggest and most exciting consumer markets…”

Increasing social status

There is an old Chinese saying: “The longer the hair, the lesser the knowledge”, a saying that once reflected the attitude and sentiments towards women in China.  Repressed for generations, women were not given the equal opportunities in terms of a professional career.

Today, the new “she” market is far different: more women are accepted into top universities and therefore, able to get better jobs and make more money. Even in rural areas, women’s social status has improved due to urbanization where fewer hands are needed for farming and more job opportunities in the cities are open to them.

China has a terribly skewed men-to-women ratio in the past several decades, and this situation will worsen even more so over the next twenty years namely as a cultural ramification of the one-child policy (most family favors boys). Today, there are 118 males for every 100 females. As the difference between male and females grow, the Chinese people have an expression for this, that girls will become more “ZhiQian” (valuable) now than ever.

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