I’ve recently been asked by a leading marketing journal to answer a few questions regarding the media habits of women in Mzansi. “What type of media (newspapers, radio and TV) & programmes are women likely to consume (read, listen to & watch) and why”?
There are two very simple answers to these questions …
1] What types of media are women more likely to consume?
Answer: Women are most likely to consume (i) media that are available to them and (ii) media they are interested in.
2] Why do they consume these media?
Answer: See point 1 above.
Let’s extrapolate from this simple reality of available audience and personal interest …
Women read newspapers they are interested in. Listen to radio stations and programmes they are interested in and watch those TV stations and programmes in which they are interested. Those who are interested in romance and intrigue watch Generations and those who are interested in news apparently watch SABC1 Zulu/ Xhosa News. At least that’s what the numbers from TAMS tell us. Of course women who are interested in tennis, watch Wimbledon (assuming they have DSTV) and those who are interested in crime, watch Medical Detectives (assuming of course they have ETV).
In this respect then, women are precisely like men. Men who are interested in rugby read Sunday Times or Rapport and those who are interested in soccer read Sunday Sun. Men who are interested in cinema go to movies and listen to Barry Ronge & women who are CEOs of companies read Business Day or Financial Mail. This is the essence of media planning, if not life itself. Find out what people are interested in and then talk to them about their interests, in a place they find interesting. It is of course very interesting to note that twice as many women listen to John Robbie as listen to Redi Tlhabi on 702. But hey, that’s available audience for you!
Posing such general questions about the media consumption of women is like watching an American TV ad from the 50s or an episode of Mad Men where female consumers are collectively referred to as “the little woman”. You imply some universality of economic and social circumstance, intellect, and of course media behaviour, which I believe does not do justice to the diversity of the role and interests of women in Mzansi. If I had posed these questions to some of my female advertising students, I’d be shot down in flames. And so should this perspective on media consumption by females.
Oh, by the way! Females who work in advertising are apparently quite interested in watching Mad Men! Strange isn’t it?