The West has not yet a clue about the importance of women in China, both in society and as powerful consumers pushing the economy into the direction of double-digit growth, says Shaun Rein of the Shanghai-based China Market Research Group in Forbes.
Women now contribute about half of household income, up from 20% in the 1950s. Their educational opportunities have greatly grown, and they’ve entered the white-collar workforce. At my own strategy consulting firm, women outnumber men three to one. They now spend as much as men on luxury consumption, accounting for 50% of luxury purchases from companies like Louis Vuitton and Gucci. A woman, former Vice Premier Wu Yi, ranked by Forbes as the second most powerful woman in the world in 2007, was former Treasury Secretary’s Henry Paulson’s counterparty during America and China’s strategic economic dialogue talks that year.
His firm recently surveyed Chinese women and concludes that those under 35 year are the big spenders of the moment. Understanding that economic force is needed to tap into the consumer business in China, Rein says.
Chinese women are emerging as one of the most confident bodies of consumers in the world. And they have the money to keep on spending. To be successful selling to them, you have to cater to their emotions and concerns more than ever before, even when selling products that men traditionally buy. As Chinese women work harder, raise children at the same time, and pay for their parents, they want to spoil themselves and relax a little. They are willing to pay a premium for safe and healthy quality products that let them do so.