The truth about Malaysian women

Urban Malaysian women are defying traditional roles to lead the charge for progressive change, according to McCann Worldgroup's ‘Truth about urban Malaysian women' study.

Armed with higher education, more independence, and greater spending power, the role as consumers has been transformed in the last four decades. In the current environment, women build on identity, career, family and life as the new life stage cycle.

"Urban Malaysian women work with a different set of triggers today," says Dr. Milan Agnihotri (pictured), McCann Worldgroup's group director, brand planning and innovations. "They are motivated by personal development, seek greater independence, and persist in their right for self expression."

Although the dimensions of the urban Malaysian women - appearance-centred, family-oriented, multi-taskers, health conscious, shopaholics, competitive - are wide and varied, they pride in the creation of a self-image that effectively represents all her roles of life.

Agnihotri reasons that women cope with in their multi-dimensional roles by asserting their personal identities. "They are adaptable, good problem solvers, better at time management, and open to their flaws. They also function effectively by having good friends as a support group and rewarding themselves for a job well done."

The study found that they favoured brands that related to their personal self, as a homemaker or home manager, and friends. They also favoured advertisements that depicted women who were comfortable in their own skin.

"Advertisements that exaggerated women in their various roles were impressionable, but they would not necessarily influence purchase," notes Agnihotri.

Women were nostalgia towards brands that they grew up with as children. "They associate these brands with bringing families together, and consequently, continue using these brands in their life."

Based on the survey response, women shopped in different locations based on their needs. For personal care, pharmacies and department stores were their first choices. They shopped at hypermarkets for packaged foods and toiletries for the household, and at morning markets and supermarkets for wet foods.

The primary factors for shopping at preferred locations are quality, price, and convenience. Agnihotri points out that "Women are very nostalgic. They hold on more to memories and favour shopping in familiar places."

Shopping remains one of their favourite pastimes - but they are also conscious about the shopping environment. According to the study, they prefer shopping at air-conditioned and clean locations with ample parking spaces and where friendly and helpful staff attends to them.

For the majority of urban Malaysian women, brand loyalty stems from family tradition - and their favourite brands relate to their roles in society.