Jessie Paul on Services Marketing For a FlatWorld

Monday, March 10, 2008

Women's Day: Another Valentine's Day in the making?

The first valentine's card wasn't particularly lovey dovey. It was supposedly a note sent by St Valentine before his execution to his jailer's daughter thanking her for the food she had brought him. We've come a long way since then! Hallmark estimates that over 180 million cards are sold in the US for Feb 14th. The US has a population of around 300 million so that's over 1 card a head! And, valentine's is now getting popular in emerging markets like India too.

Closer home, Akshaya Tritiya, a festival hardly a big deal in the South of India has become closely associated with buying gold coins across India. I still don't know what the festival is about, but thanks to the advertising, even I have a gold coin launched for this happy occasion!

Five years ago, on Women's Day, I'd get a few chain mails from some girlfriends. A few hip male colleagues would send a "Happy Women's Day" e-card. And that was it. Around 3 years ago, the corporates started hopping on the bandwagon - we got flowers. But this year, it is showing symptoms of a full-fledged marketing phenomenon. Most forward-thinking corporates held special dos celebrating their women employees. And there were panel discussions on TV discussing women's issues. The papers had tons of women oriented stories. And a publication, SmartTechie hosted what it touted as the first big women's conference in Bangalore.

Me, I love a soap-box, and I was on the panel. It was good to meet with other women in the industry and share our views and tips with the audience. For many of us it was a focused networking opportunity. For others it was a chance to discuss career and life issues with people they considered role models. And it was the first women's conference I have been to in India with a large and balanced audience.

But why all the hoopla about women just for a day? Very few of the initiatives have a longer term agenda. And some of the issues - like safety, skill upgradation, women's literacy, work-life balance - are ongoing and require changes at the grassroots level.

Given the number of well-packaged initiatives for Women's Day this year, I suspect that it is well on the way to becoming a marketing feeding frenzy for HR recruiters, beauty products marketers, and employers keen to establish their equal opportunity credentials. It shows the power of marketing to cause social change, and introduce new occasions to the festival calendar of a country already choc-a-bloc with them. As a woman I hope it triggers social change and doesn't become yet another token social obligation. As a marketer, I too will probably succumb and hop on this bandwagon.


raegan paul said...

well. soon there will be a day when each day would be somebody's/bodies' day..! i even heard a concept of week lately - like a friendship week..or valentine's week..
it all seems like a collaborated effort of some underworld body of marketers..
talking about long term agenda ..other than social issues like women's the corporate sector - whats' important is to indentify the impact that a women's day would have on breaking down that glass ceiling that invisibily yet inevitably bars several women from reaching tops ..

but i am curious - how do women find this day - a day that makes them special for being a women - or a day that reminds them that they are being treated special because they are women...

(no offences meant please)

Anonymous said...

guess most people, women included, do not look a gift horse in the mouth. just go ahead and munch the candy!

Anonymous said...

Hey, I hv also attended that women event...I think siliconindia folks are holding the event this year is the link....