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Consumerism and women - How women are caught by consumerism

Updated on November 15, 2012

Women attracted to the flooded market

Markets are flooded with family consumption products, mostly women and children specific products. Products and their advertisements in today’s world are highly targeted towards women and children. It is a very popular fact that it is quite easy to make profit using women. This is because they are very vulnerable to advertisements and other business campaigns, compared to men. Companies that are producing women and children specific products are shining in today’s world with huge turnovers. Female consumers are becoming very important in retail markets and markets are also becoming highly targeted towards them. There are even various shops and service centers that are exclusively for women. Women are found to be the accelerators of the world wide consumption rate.

Women, no longer depended on men

As women have increasingly come to the job field they are no longer depended upon men for their requirements. As they come up in their career and consequently the income, they do exercise their freedom and individuality in their life. Rising income of women has become a great boon to the retail markets as women spend majority of their money on various consumer products and other accessories. Body of women are highly objectified and commodified in the consumer market and fiscal economy. The very word femininity is highly marketable and has resulted in this women-targeted product launch.

Women are found to be blinded by the numerous and varied household products and other cosmetic and costume items and spend much money on it. As their symbol of gaining economic independence they do explore women specific markets and spend majority of their income there. They are increasingly coming up in their personality and consumption. They are found to be highly weak towards the advertisements on clothes, jewelry and cosmetics.

Advertisements targeted on women

The advertisement on the growing importance of women consumers reveals, to what extent women have conquered the retail market area. Women are the ‘care givers’ and mostly the decision makers as far as house hold dealings and consumption is concerned. It is found out that 80% of the household items are purchased by women. Women, in short, are the spending authorities in today’s world. Trade liberalization has resulted in the decreased price level of goods in domestic markets as goods are imported from the producing countries to other countries at cheap rates. Women are the most benefiting groups of the low price ranges as they are the major consumers and purchase decision makers.

Captains of Consciousness by Stuart Ewen

The book Captains of Consciousness by Stuart Ewen gives a wonderful study about the advent of consumerism through advertising. The book explores the topic by beginning from the various techniques, effects and characteristics of mass production. Workers (particularly in labor jobs) were not satisfied with their production roles in companies and industrialization started modifying the whole means of production. All these resulted in the need for the improvement in the consumption end that ultimately introduced the concept of advertisement into the play. As a result of the enticing advertisements, more and more people started becoming aware of the varying and numerous products that come up daily in the market. The concept of mass advertising changed the whole face of the consumer market. Advertisements generated the desire in people about the new new attractive products in the market. Captains of Consciousness explains how advertising started to be targeted towards women who are the master of household expenses and the manager of consumption.

Consumerism presented in Captains of Consciousness

The advertising strategies mentioned in the book are still present today even though few of the modern advertisers have come up with varying strategies that are more targeted towards families rather than specifically targeting women. The author defines consumerism as a natural technological development, in the book. He says that the captions of the industry made a great attempt to exert control over the whole social milieu starting from the 1920s. The foremost intention of the industry was to redefine the American life in terms of consumerism. According to the new consumerism, consumption was no longer confined in attaining the mere satisfaction, buying the basic things and essential commodities, rather it was more complicated with various factors like luxury, social esteem, prestige and lavishness.

Products and services targeted for women

The division of labor that happened in the families entrusted majority of the purchase and budget related decision makings upon women. As women are supposed to be more careful and planned in household related matters, this typical work segregation within the family exempted men from interfering much in the purchase matters of the family, especially children. Shopping always require much time and attention. Buying food, clothes and other household things really need careful selection and proper money management. Women carry out these sorts of jobs comparatively better than men who seldom have time and interest. For example, finding reductions and discounts and searching through coupons for the best deal will not be feasible for men often. Women thus became the in charge of this non-paid job of shopping. Women often take the responsibility of buying large items like cars and houses also. They select and purchase gifts on behalf of their families; mothers often select and purchase gifts when children need gifts for their friends. Women are confronted with numerous decisions and choices in their role as consumers and consumption decision makers. Women, in spite of being in great pressure performs all the shopping works carefully planning to balance the affordability, availability, nutrition and other interests and preferences. All these will safely answer the question that ‘Why products and advertisements are often women-targeted?’

Shopping, a national passion

The book The Consumer Society Reader also gives out a good picture about the commodity consumption happening in United States and other countries. The book analyses the high consumption rate in two different ways; as a trend of the society that helps the consumers to buy and use commodities that would strengthen their sense of well-being as well as individuality, and as a trend that makes the consumers a slave of the global capitalism that purchases several things that they seldom require and developing the utter wasteful over luxury habits.The society has become highly consumer oriented. Shopping has become a national passion for United States now. Advertising, marketing and selling has become the most popular and powerful phenomena of the society nowadays. People are citizens, workers, owners, managers, believers, atheists; but above all they have come under a common category called ‘consumers’. The continued and unconquered rise of consumerism has reaching such a level that purchasing or shopping has become the national slogan or motto.


However, we can find out upon careful watching that the situation at the outset of consumerism mentioned in the books mentioned above is different from that mentioned in the ad we discussed. The women targeted advertising mentioned in the books were based on the ‘division of labor approach’ that prevails in the families. Here, woman is taking the role of the decision makers on the behalf of their family and for the benefit of their family. Women become the purchasing masters as they can perform the purchasing and spending matters better than their husbands because of the free time and flexibility they enjoy. However, the kind of women-targeted advertising explained in the ad is quite different. These advertisements are more luxury-oriented and least benefit oriented. Women are the target in these advertisements as they have become very much fashion oriented and most lavish. They are quite different from the women consumers mentioned in the books. The choice of the former group is based upon common interest and general welfare of the family, while that of the latter group is based on personal choices and most modern trends.


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