March Business news sponsored by:
By Mapula Bodibe, Executive for Consumer Business: MTN South Africa
Connectivity and mobile broadband can stimulate economic growth by enabling industries to tap into the trillion dollar female economy. Still a relatively new concept, the trillion dollar female economy refers to the collective purchasing power of women globally. With many industries not embracing opportunities to create non-stereotypical, customised solutions for women, this market is still largely untapped.
Through connectivity, mobile operators like MTN are able to help industries across sectors cater to women’s unique needs in today’s digital world.
In line with our commitment to celebrate, enable and empower women in business and the communities we serve, MTN Business sponsored the recent Forbes Leading Women Summit. A key insight expressed by several speakers, and MTN shares this view, is that women continue to feel vastly underserved despite the remarkable strides in market power and social position that have been made in the past century.
Putting the trillion dollar female economy into perspective, women’s global spend far surpasses the combined revenues generated by Coca Cola, Microsoft and Apple, or the combined GDP of China and India.
Despite our immense buying power, women still appear to be undervalued in the market place and underestimated in the workplace. Too many companies are not catering to our specific needs, and those that are mainly focus on goods or services that are considered ‘female’ products, like cosmetics and baby products. There are many examples of companies trying to reach us as consumers, but again, many are doing it in a condescending way.
When companies fully embrace the potential of the trillion dollar female economy, they will find a whole new range of commercial opportunities.
If we look at mobile technology specifically, this has transformed lives and empowered women by making them feel safer and more connected. Mobile technology can also brighten women’s lives by facilitating access to information and life-enhancing services like healthcare, financial services and employment opportunities. Mobile connectivity makes this possible for the first time for millions of consumers, if one considers the number of women living and working in more rural environments, for example.
In addition, the increasing connectivity between devices, machines and people in the growing Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem presents mobile network operators and other industries with a great opportunity to provide personalised services that meet the demands of women in the 21st century.
IoT is a technology that is creating some significant opportunities in the trillion dollar female economy. It is an ecosystem that allows concepts like smart homes to be a reality.
How many women want a home that allows them to use their phones to turn the lights on and off, or to turn on oven on as they are leaving work to make sure that dinner’s ready by the time they get home? How many of us want a home that allows us to track and manage how much water and electricity we are using, and to notify us when a leak starts?
Not only is IoT providing new avenues of saving time and money, but it is also creating new ways of working and driving the creation of completely new industries.
According to the findings of the Ericsson Mobility Report 2017, it is projected that 30 billion phones and other devices will be connected to each other by 2023. These include cars, meters, sensors, point-of-sale terminals, consumer electronicsand wearable technology such as smart watches.
And, the increased adoption of smart devices like smartphones represents a huge commercial opportunity for the mobile industry as well.
Creating products that are tailored specifically to the needs of women will allow ICT companies to tap into the trillion dollar female economy. With women making between 50% and 80% of purchasing decisions in their households, smart devices can open the doors to the wider world of ICT. This will enable and empower women to do more with less, become more productive and access new opportunities.
At MTN, we are committed to lead from the front in ushering in a bold, new digital world that meets the unique needs of women in South Africa, and beyond.