If ever anyone needed proof that joining the workforce leads to economic empowerment for women, then the latest trends in Asia will convince them. A survey of 5,500 women across Asia’s major urban areas conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit has found that as more Asian women join the workforce, many of them in senior positions, their spending power and control over money matters at home have also increased.
The report, On the rise and online: Female consumers in Asia, finds that across the major cities in Mainland China, Hong Kong , Macau, India, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea, 43% of the women responding to the survey were managers, executives or other professionals.
More women control purse strings
With greater labour participation has come greater contribution to household incomes and greater control over how it’s spent. In mainland China alone, women’s average contribution to household income is now 50% compared to just 20% in 1980.
According to the survey 8% of the respondents described themselves as sole breadwinners and 41% said they were joint breadwinners. In China two thirds of the women said they were joint breadwinners.
With greater earning power has also come the ability to handle their financial affairs independently. On average two thirds had their own bank accounts and half had their own credit cards.
Women have more control over household spending
Most are in charge of budgeting decisions on groceries, clothing and accessories, and items for children while deciding with their partners on buying electronic products and paying for travel.
Asian women are exercising their buying power online.
Women are responsible for the rapid growth of online shopping in the region. Close to half of them (49%) reported that they prefer shopping online rather than in a store. Two thirds reported browsing the Internet for services and products at least once a day and 29% do it twice a day. Many buy the majority of their groceries, clothes and cosmetics online.
In China, the world’s largest online shopping market, shopping online has become a part of daily life with 63% of the respondents tipping it as their favourite past time. The main motivators for online shopping include convenience, lower prices, access to a wider range of products and online bargains. Saving time is another major contributing factor for women in China and India but less so for women in Japan and Hong Kong.
Shopping goes mobile
Overall, 45% of women in Asia shop on their smartphones and 25% shop on their tablets. The younger generation is driving this trend. Among 18 to 29-year olds, 58% shop on their phones, compared to 38% for women between 40 and 49 years of age.