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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 advertising a jewelery brand and featuring an aspirational-lifestyle model/actress.

I exclaimed, “I really love that advertisement!”

My friend smiled and said, “You would. It celebrates you, after all.”

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

My first luxury retail experience was an emotional one, one of self-awareness. 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~

A few years ago, I discovered something I think of as the Superwoman complex. 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~

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 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 with high incomes, 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 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’.

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~

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!!

*An earlier version is here.

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!!

Caution: Women At Work

women at work

I created the image above. Doesn’t it look sketchy? And odd…since such signs are usually black-on-yellow and not green-and-black-on-blue? Moreover, the lady is wearing spiky heels and wielding a shovel. Oh well, that’s why I’m saying….Caution ahead, Women at work! I’m going to be a hypocrite and talk about women at work all the while playing a detached genderless entity. I try to be objective. I do try.

When I first heard the murmurs about women, I hmph-ed and clubbed it in the same genre as the nasty barbs about women drivers, wives and mothers-in-law. I decided and pronounced that men just couldn’t handle the fact that women were showing their equality and even superiority in the working world.

I think differently now. I’ve had male bosses as well as female bosses, colleagues, peers and clients of either sex. In some ways women are good to work with. I find they are a lot more focussed and driven than men….comparatively speaking. There is that ‘let’s cut the crap and get down to the brass tacks’ attitude which is what had me partnering women all through college on our projects.We did very well on all those projects as opposed to the ‘pretty good’ and ‘somewhat less that fantastic’ stuff that I suspect fell in those categories primarily due to the fooling around, chit-chat and unncessariy niceties that men brought into the equation. On the other hand, I’ve seen some pretty violent…how shall we put it….clashes?….over work with women. Power struggles were what they were and they remained unresolved since we were all evenly balanced.

I know I have been mighty intolerable to work with. Who’s got the time for niceties…I have a job to do here…has been my attitude for a good while now. I’m learning. A lot of us are. Sweet words and a nice smile can get work done so much faster.

Now cut to the real world where I have to work with a lot of men and a lot of women. It is a fact, I hate it…but it is a fact that women use their ‘wiles’ to have their way. There is nothing more nauseating than a bimbo fluttering their eyelashes at your boyfriend…..unless it is a female worker who smiles at you brightly and then cuts you to shreds in a meeting. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can tear my soul apart.

It is sarcasm, saccarine-flavoured arsenic at its best. I was once recruited by a sweet looking pretty lady who assured me that the work would be great and suggested that we treat each other as ‘friends’. Yeah right…..I’m still walking around with the arrows sticking out of my back. The lady had incredibly good aim.

Which brings me to something a male friend observed recently. He said that most people were ruthless and vile when they were beginning their careers and working their way up. Men however, tended to lose that as they progressed and reached a certain stage in their own minds. Women on the other hand, tended to hold on to grudges as well as swell in arrogance as they began to shine.

Is that true? Yes, I think it is. I see it in myself. In the short few years that I’ve been working, I know I treat some people differently. I know I have stored away little memories of people who did not treat me the way I wanted to be treated and have been meticulously ticking them off my list of ‘paybacks’. I haven’t played dirty politics…..yet. My method is to do better…that’s reward enough. But my friend’s comments made me think….am I persevering because I want to do well, because I like what I do, because it makes me feel good? Or am I doing it to get back at other people, to show someone up, to feel good by making them feel bad. That’s sick.

I have to rationalize my behaviour and that of my gender. Even today, a women is required to try harder, be better and bear a lot more than a man in order to succed. This includes opposition from the family, harassment by male colleagues, gender biases at work (yes, they do exist), social pressures and all kinds of other things. Somewhere we become hardened. Yes, it does take sheer grit to ignore the sniggering, sleazy whispers as well as that nagging nuisance called PMS all while trying to write a report in peace. Yes, well…are we entitled to some sympathy?

All I can think is that we’ve had such things as recognition, fame and success for such a very short while, we behave like the nouveau riche…flaunting it, throwing it into other people’s faces, using it to run over others. Bad bad bad still….damn, we need to grow up.

Incidently I took another look at the picture above and it occurs to me that its me in that pic…digging my own grave with this post. Eee….time to pull out the claws again…I retract from my objective identity and back to being a woman. You have been warned.

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