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Everyone Wants To Get Into My Wallet!

Late one night as I was driving down the city, I looked up at a huge billboard of Sushmita Sen, an advertisement for Kiah jewellery, which said,

You are the occasion
You are the celebration

I told him,

I really love that ad!

He smiled and said,

You would. It celebrates you, after all.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Earlier in the month, I wrote about my first experience with luxuriant self-indulgence, the retail therapy way. I wear my diamonds with pride, a pride that comes not exactly from their aesthetic value but from the knowledge that I earned the power to buy them for myself.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

A few years ago, I wrote about the Superwoman. I don’t know whether to be happy or not that it’s turning out to be prophetic. Take a minute to think about my words..

I am the center of a marketing model titled “High income single decision maker”
I am the brief given to fashion houses when they design the new Prada suit
I am described as ‘Joan of Arc meets Helen of Troy’

We are indeed, the hot new consumer demographic. Urban women, financially self-sufficient with all the trappings of our successful professional status – the need for new status symbols combined with the ability to pay for them.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Our parents’ generation saw the upsurge of women at work and all the initial beginnings like the glass ceiling, women bosses et al. Our generation in contrast is the one that gets to enjoy it (and be taken advantage of). We’re prominent for our purchasing power and marketers have been quick to pick up on the need for our own set of status symbols and paraphernalia. I speak as the target group of a woman who earns and has the independence to spend. I also speak as a marketing professional, seeing the other side of it, so to speak.

Successful men who earn well have been well tapped into as a market and are induced to spend on everything from their own selves (personal gadgets, cars), social settings (restaurants, pubs, sports activities) and all sorts of dating-related paraphernalia (presents for women, tokens of what makes them an ‘ideal partner’). What do their opposite numbers in our sex have?

We have shoes, clothes, bags, accessories, jewelery, make-up and personal grooming services. If the men-targeted products homed in on the traditional masculine need to be macho and an alpha male, we are being targeted for our vanity and need to be ‘the babe’.

Of course, the more complicated dynamics of women actually competing with each other in these stakes is well played out. What else do you think Bhala uski saadi meri saadi se safed kaisi is?

The more expensive products are obviously affordable only to a certain type of woman – she has a career, she’s ambitious and wants to be respected for her intelligence, she doesn’t want to stand in anyone’s shadow, she has a personality of her own. And hence diamonds, super-expensive shoes and clothes come with the messages that they respect your individuality, celebrate your independence and will take Visa as well as American Express.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

I was invited to the premier showing of the big Hollywood release of Confessions of a Shopaholic. I saw the movie with a group of girlfriends and all of us identified with the heroine. We would, she’s based on us after all. While the movie is meant to be a really light-hearted comedy, it points to something deeper.
I got to wondering about the phenomenon of shopaholism. Is it a reality that we’re likely to be facing very soon? All manner of excess is driven towards filling a need that hasn’t been satisfied earlier. So women who binge are thought to be unconsciously compensating for a lack of affection in their lives. What unmet need are we trying to plug with this excessive buying?

Becky Bloomwood in the movie nails it on the head when she explains her addiction,

Because when I shop, it feels so pretty, so nice, so good! And then it doesn’t so I have to shop even more!

True to all successful marketing strategies, this one also gives us a taste of what we like and then leaves us begging for more. Shinier hair! Higher heels! Bigger (and smaller) bags! Cooler sunglasses! Brighter make-up! Lotions, creams, gels, powders, liquid liners, sticks, brushes, concealers, colorants, rinses, crayons, cakes, gloss, sequins, beads, rhinestones, denim, silk, linen, velvet….the list never ends.

So for all our gloss and gorgeousness, we are nothing more than the product of a very successful marketing program designed to relieve us our newly-minted paychecks. ‘Fabulous’ is the bait they use to lure us in and the looming bill at the end of the month is the hook.

It used to be about too many people wanting to get into my pants.
Now everyone wants to get into my wallet!!

Manguide 5: Bollywood Pin-Ups

And now that we know them by the cities they live in, the professions they pursue, the interests they devote their time to and the languages they speak, what’s left? The women they love of course! Here’s a look at what you can tell about a man by his favorite Bollywood pin-up.


Sushmita Sen: Isn’t it really obvious that is this a man who likes strong personality in his woman? I’m inclined to think that he’ll also be a shy sort, the still-waters-run-deep kind but also a tad laid back. He has no qualms in letting the woman run the show and what a good job she does of it, too!

 

Rani Mukherjee: She played a prostitute in a number of movies and yet she retains the image of a ‘good girl’. She was also the glam-ma’am who settled down to matrimony, motherhood and err..mortis. I’m hardly surprised that she’s one of India’s top actresses since she personifies the most common Indian male fantasy – the Barbie/Behenji. If the Munch girl is on his walls, you can be sure that Mr.Munchkin ain’t going to like your mini-skirts post marriage, even if he chases you only when you wear them!

Aishwarya Rai: I’m no fan of this green-eyed diva. But she sure is popular with the boys. This one appeals to the kind of man who wants a trophy partner, the kind that will be delighted to turn cartwheels for his marble princess but freezes when he realizes that she breathes, feels, talks and – horror of horrors – thinks too! Freeze in place and don’t even adjust your mascara till he’s out of the room, ladies. This man doesn’t believe that a real woman should perspire, shed hair or do anything that a marble statue wouldn’t.

Mallika Sherawat: Now I bet you won’t find too many men who admit to liking her. For that matter how many men actually admit to watching porn? You know I think the lady does have quite a nice face but well, who ever looks at her face? Watch for the dude whose eyes are permanently fixed a few inches beneath your chin. That’s not shyness, that’s a Sherawat fan. Quite likely he’s comparing you with her…down to the last millimeter. On the other hand, if he openly admits to liking her, he might be the ‘I do it differently’ sort. Fun boyfriend to have if you run with rebels. For all that though, a man’s basic instincts don’t change.

Kareena Kapoor: Now I don’t actually know a single man who professes an admiration for the Kapoor babe (except Saif and he doesn’t count since he doesn’t know me). And yet as reigning queen in Bollywood, she must have her share of hearts. I imagine she’s the kind that a lot of men fantasize about but won’t talk about it since they don’t think that she’ll ever ‘ghass-dalofy‘ them and what man would admit to that? The average Joe (or Janardhan, Jaani etc) who sniggers at the mention that he could have an eye on the firebrand is probably mixing some nervous laughter into that as well.

Bipasha Basu: This is one surprising one. A dusky woman who rules the roost in a country obsessed with fair skin. Raw sex appeal meets ubercool. But ooh, I’m nearly drooling. Hmm, what can I say about the man that likes her? They all do! If he doesn’t, assume he’s gay!

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