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Sunday October 30, 2005

What makes Asian women tick

EVER wondered about the wow factor that makes women in Asia tick? Or specifically in Malaysia?  

A recent study by media communications specialist OMD aptly titled WOW (The Wonders of Women) revealed, for example, that Malaysia has the highest number of women earning as much as their spouses (50%) in the seven key Asian markets captured in the study. 

The women, primarily from the Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya area, said they are not worried that they may be earning the same as their spouses because they feel they are making a worthwhile contribution to the family as well. 

It is an important aspiration for most women to be financially independent, they said. 

Furthermore, their strong earning power acts as a financial security blanket and also a form of assurance to help them cushion against the effect of a failed marriage or perhaps, simply to pamper and reward themselves whenever they wish.  

Reflecting similar sentiments of many, one woman said, “I can’t imagine asking my husband for money for a manicure or to buy an expensive bag”. 

The OMD study focused on the more affluent and highest educated women (those with at least a college education) in order to better understand their potential and propensity to spend as well as their influence on their peers and family.  

The WOW women form between 20-35% of the total women population in their respective markets, and specifically in Malaysia, this group makes up 23% of all women in KL and PJ. 

Among the key points are: 

  • Breaking down of female stereotypes: The study showed that the WOW women in all markets are clearly more independent, know what they want and are not afraid to speak their minds. Although traditional values such as filial piety, respect of the family and performing their duties as a good wife and mother may still be valued, many now see the importance of personal fulfilment and self-actualisation through their career and social network. 

    Variation by markets suggested that the status and position of women in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore are more advanced than those in the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia with women in China fast catching up. 

  • Happy and optimistic of life: WOW women are very positive in their outlook in life. They are mostly happy with their present conditions with the happiest women coming from Thailand (89%). In Malaysia, women are contented with their life and 77% of them are optimistic about their future. They believe the economy is becoming better and the prospects for women generally will continue to improve.  

  • Beautiful women have an advantage in life: The study shows that while women acknowledge that aging is inevitable, they wish to look forever young and beautiful. Beauty is not just skin-deep, according to the WOW women. It goes beyond the surface, giving them confidence and self-esteem. 

    In Malaysia, Chinese and Malay women have different perception of beauty. Most of the Chinese women are realistic about what beauty means. To them, it is about confidence, elegance and knowing how to enjoy life. To the Malays, natural beauty is important to reflect the image of the Muslim women. However, knowing how to dress up and to beautify oneself with make-up and accessories is also important. In Taiwan, 83% of women believe that beautiful women have an advantage in life.  

  • Great body or a beautiful face: WOW insights also revealed an interesting finding regarding beauty. Given the choice between a great body or a beautiful face, 51% of Malaysian women preferred a great body. Across the markets, more women in China (63%) and Thailand (60%) opted for a great body compared to their counterparts in Taiwan (27%) and Hong Kong (25%).  

  • Malaysian women – not so much a shopper: Malaysian women consider shopping as an activity for relaxing and to keep themselves updated on the latest fashion. Only 30% of them shop/browse in shopping malls/departmental stores at least three times a week. The highest shopping queen across the markets at 56% is Singapore. 

  • Private savings – unanimous among all women: Another common trait shared by women across the markets is their belief in private savings. 51% of Malaysian women claim to have private savings. 

    Malay women are the most successful in keeping their private savings secret from their spouses! 

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