Traditionalists and Feminists

There are significant variations today between women according to their lifestyles and demographic characteristics. A recent poll found that 53 percent of women and 50 percent of men favor a marriage where husband and wife share responsibilities more – that is, both work and share housekeeping and childcare responsibilities whereas only 38 per cent of women and 39 per cent of men favor a traditional marriage with the husband responsibility for providing for the family and the wife running the house and taking care of children.

Studies evaluating the attributes of women who were characterized as having either a traditional or a modern feminine lifestyle have found some significant differences between the segments. It appears that, compared to other groups, feminists tend to be younger and better educated with a greater sense of independence in terms of how they perceive themselves within the household. They are more liberal in their attitudes toward life, events, and business; have more cosmopolitan interests are financially optimistic; are very interested in personal appearance are opposed to sex stereotyping ; are more accepting of risk behavior and physically demanding leisure activities and are more self confident. Feminists also perceive that role portrayals in ads depict women as sexual objects and do not reflect the market changes that are taking place.

Although the modern role segment has been growing, the marketer should also remember that there is still a sizable group of Americans men and women who prefer traditional roles in marriage. Studies indicate that most nonworking mothers are happy with their choice to remain at home with their children and even exhibit signs of a superiority complex. Compared to their wage earning counterparts, they more often describe themselves as family oriented faithful to their husbands, fun loving, sexy and romantic. Consequently appealing to this group on the basis of its own value system may be very rewarding to many companies. Yet, many advertisements that glorify working women risk turning off millions of full time homemakers. One third of the homemakers in one national study said working women are emphasized too much in TV commercials. Thus, advertisers must look beyond the employment dimension and address the many other facets of today’s woman.

Even traditional women are changing in some of the ways they view their lives, and they are adopting different strategies. One of the basic lifestyles changes has been the way full time homemakers blend family responsibilities with outside activities. What is different about this that they feel it is legitimate, even essential that they spend time outside the home and family. Thus, for many homemakers family is no longer the central focus or concern in life.

Because of these changing perspectives, they are also changing housework strategies (as are women with jobs outside the house). They are trying to spend this reduced time differently and they have modified their standards and adopted pragmatic approaches for dealing with their at home roles.

Another dimension on which the female market may be segmented is that of working versus nonworking women.

Working wives:

Historically, women have been viewed by marketers in the roles of wife, mother, and homemaker. Roles outside the family such as of career women and professional workers were given little or no attention. Yet, these latter roles are assuming considerable importance today, particularly due to the women’s movement in the United States. Women now account for over 45 per cent of the labor force. The predictions are that women will continue to go to work at an unprecedented ate. Today, over one half of all adult women work in the paid labor force – either full time or part time. Many of those who are not working today will enter the work force in the future. The greatest increase in the participation rates of wives has generally been among mothers of children under 3. However, women with children who are employed full time have considerable job related conflicts. Not all women (or men, for that matter) are working because they want a career. Many view that employment as just a job.