Stressful Sandwiches…

I had planned to first make an entry on Sensory Branding and the 16PFs first and then look at something else. But the moment I read an article in the Economic Times, dated 20th August 2005, couldn’t resist finding out more on it and typing it out here.

The article talks about an altogether ignored segment, a segment which is nothing but a “side-effect” of the growing economy. Though the article talks about India particularly, the concept per se is a global one, that of a “Sandwiched Generation” applicable across the different economies and markets.

The article talks about Women who are aged between 35-45 years, and are staying in a joint family. They need to look after 2 generations – the youngsters or the Gen Nexters, and the elders – the Boomers.

According to the article
“A study conducted by developed economies shows that a woman spends 17 years bringing up children, and another 18 years helping parents”

Now, an after-effect of a growing economy is late marriages – resulting in kids at a later age, which women need to take care of. By the time the kids start getting independent, it is time for the older generation to be mollycoddled. Add to this increasing life expectancy, another outcome of the growing economy, and you have the lady of the house confined to home services!

Such a kind of life induces stress, dissatisfaction, frustration, loneliness, all leading to a faster burnout and psychological disorders. In some cases, it also results in break-ups and heart attacks.

A nice line summarized by a doctor, taken from the article says – “Women have a lot of balancing to do between home, workplace, social and generation requirements. Combine this with maternity, menopause, parent-hood, gender roles, conditions at home and workplace, familial and social support and you have the recipe for highly stressful environment”
Indeed, such is a case with majority of the housewives in India presently.

Solution?
Let me take this from 2 perspectives – the HR perspective and the Marketing perspective

HR Perspective
This phenomenon can be extended towards the entire Sandwich Generation, as is reiterated in Assemblies of God, USA It is a case pertinent to this generation, who needs to bear the brunt of the growing markets and the transition phase of the generations – “Evolution” so to say. The points mentioned here, like – Self-care, prioritizing, communicate, support system, plan and Adjustment – are more at a personal level, and can be planned by individuals themselves.

At an organizational level, the employers need to empathize with such employees in understanding their family pressures and juxtapose them to their aspiration levels. They can look at
- giving “flexibility” to such employees,
- support the functional roles that are commensurate with their profiles, and
- ensure that their competency levels are not being underutilized

Marketing Perspective

Now for the part that relates to the Blog :)
With a new segment emerging, rather identified, what can the marketers do? Definitely, there would be social capital involved, but keeping that aside for the moment, what and how can we market to this segment?

While thinking about the Marketing Mix, the product/services must have the one or more of the following attributes –
- “Support Function”
- Stress Buster
- Trustworthy
- Helping hand
- Emotive Appeal
- Empathizer

These are a few critical points I could think of.
What about Advertisements? Should they be humorous, acting as a stress buster, or should they have an emotional flavor, acting as an Empathizer?

If you take the humor line, you essentially break the droning schedules and stressful lifestyle of the women, and lure them into your offering. Such a communication ensures a high brand recall. The Brand Association in such a case is with the “Humor” attribute and not with the “Benefits”
Such a communication needs to be leveraged further to a direct campaign, or experimentation exercise, to convince the customer of your offering. Without this step, your brand would be popular, but the popularity would not be translated into sales.

On the other hand, if you take the emotive route, you connect instantly with the consumer. She can relate the Ad to herself, and empathize with the role play. The question is … how convincingly you communicate the solution? It is a riskier proposition, since in this case, you step in the consumer’s territory, and if you come out of it without offering a solution, you run a risk of being shot down. Design a communication, wherein once you connect, extend it to a solution pattern using the attributes above – “Trust” primarily and support it with testimonials. There is little room for the experimentation stage, but more for endorsements.

In a way, both the approaches have their pros and cons. Depending upon your communication, and the take-away you would like the consumers to have, one can pick the appropriate line.

Disclaimer: These are my personal thoughts, and do not relate to any campaigns or strategies :)
1 comment

Popular Posts