Even though women have emerged as a critical segment of home buyers, real estate marketers continue to view women merely as part of families. Not surprising, the marketing campaigns of real estate projects, continue to portray women in a stereotypical fashion – in fancy kitchens or with children. Images of women are either used as models or as a homemaker who is buying a house with the family.
Nevertheless, statistics suggest that real estate campaigns are far off their target, with this influential group of home buyers. Women, today, control $28 trillion in annual consumer spending, as per a study. In terms of consumer spending, women drive almost 80% of all purchases. In terms of home buying, 74% women play the role of either a contributor or an influencer, as per a pan-India survey by Track2Realty, a real estate think-tank group. This includes 32% home buying by single women across the top eight cities of India.
Why developers shy away from women-centric ad campaigns
Real estate professional Sumedha Thakur (name changed on request), who is the creative head of an ad agency that works for a few leading real estate companies, thinks that the problem lies in the mindset of most of the developers. It is not just the first-generation conservative developers, who reject women-centric marketing campaigns. Even the second-generation luxury developers do not want to risk market disruption.
“It is tough to convince these builders that women, who are the single and a powerful consumer group in the housing market, do not need or desire validation of their life’s choices from your brand. It is your brand that needs to be validated by their choices,” says Thakur.
Ruchika Bhatt, a home buyer and fashion photographer who has worked on several real estate ad shoots, feels that it is not just in the Indian context but also world over that women are used in real estate advertising, only to add an element of glamour. In the western property markets, there are instances of women being used to spice up ad campaigns, she points out. “Home buying is still considered as a family affair, in our society. Hence, Indian real estate has shied away from using any form of sex in advertising, even though other segments overuse it, to sell anything from coffee to cars, with success. In a way, it is okay to not have objectification of women in real estate advertising, when your project offerings are not designed to meet the needs of women in general and the single women in particular,” suggests Bhatt.
Real estate purchase still viewed as a family affair
Mayuri Aggarwal, VP-marketing with SARE Group, admits that the thought of bringing women to the forefront of marketing campaigns, never took centrestage.
According to her, home buying is such a family-driven affair that most of the time, the thought process revolves around how to tempt a family and not an individual. “Some change is there in the mindset but we still have a long way to go, before we start thinking about women as buyers. For example, in south India we focus more on women buyers, even if the campaign is family-driven. However, in north India, the focus shifts to the male-driven family units. Women may be contributors today but so long as their independent buying does not reflect in numbers, the market’s orientation is unlikely to change,” concludes Aggarwal.
Women in real estate and their portrayal
- Women play the role of influencer or contributor, in 74% of real estate buying decisions.
- Of this, 32% of buyers are single women, in the top eight cities.
- Use of women in advertising has generally been to add glamour, rather than talking to this target audience.
- With home purchase perceived as a family affair, developers still question why they need to talk to women, rather than how to talk to them.
(The writer is CEO, Track2Realty)