'She economy' prospers as female-based shows gain popularity

By Wu Zheyu

11:45:00, Aug. 5, 2020

Many advertising companies take women as their targeting audience.

CGTN 04-Aug-2020 An emerging trend of television shows centered on women and their issues have been gaining popularity in China as the country's movie industry struggles to shrug off the pandemic's impact and people remain stuck at home, glued to online streaming platforms.

The pandemic may have hit consumer spending in general but it has definitely left one sector alone: online streaming services. Industry tracing site Maoyan reported that 70 percent of those surveyed had increased their time watching online series. The increase in the second- and third-tier cities had outpaced that of first-tier cities: 26 percent of people surveyed in the first-tier cities spent more time watching shows online while the numbers stand at 41 percent and 40 percent in the second- and third-tier cities, respectively.

Viewers are interested in shows themed on history and crime this year while romance is the most popular genre when it comes to films. Still, more than half of those surveyed said they had bought memberships of video streaming platforms. Maoyan reported that 86 percent of people said they prefer watching shows alone.

Women dominate TV screens

Given that the majority of television viewers nationwide are women, female-based stories have become a major part of the entertainment industry.

Recent weeks have seen several new TV shows featuring the stories of women spur lively discussions on social media. And that's giving a healthy boost to the "she economy."

The beginning of twenties and thirties are considered crucial ages for women. And these are the age groups that many television producers target. The two new blockbuster dramas feature women in their twenties and thirties talking about their love, career and family. The stories resonate with women across the country.

This year has seen an increasing number of TV shows featuring stories about women. Another 14 are expected to debut in the second half of the year. All these are expected to speed up the development of women's genre in the entertainment industry.

The women's genre in television programming is not new. Two years ago, popular TV shows featuring women as the main characters, such as "Ode to Joy" and "Women in Beijing," triggering feedbacks on social media. But the experts say the influence of women's interests on TV programs is increasing.

"Women's tastes are the key for TV shows, whether they are screened on TVs or the internet. Men's interests tend to be important for films. So for television dramas, the crucial thing in audience development is cultivating of women's interests, gaining their acceptance. This is the basic market trend," said Wang Ce, CEO of Shanghai Firstake Consulting.


Advertiser preferences change accordingly

Is this trend going to reshape the TV industry and related sectors? Is this affecting advertiser preference? Teng Jimeng, associate professor from Beijing Foreign Studies University, agreed.

"China has this great tradition of women holding up half the sky. But right now, I think women are holding up even more than half the sky. Women are actually the main breadwinners of the family and the mainstream of the workforce. And they are also mothers who educate children. So they appeal to advertisers," Teng said.

Teng noted that many advertising companies take women as their targeting audience. "For example, companies selling baby care products and baby food are actually targeting this particular group of women on the screen. Advertisers are smart enough to adapt to this change and shape the characters and images they present on the big screen accordingly."

Women's strong purchasing power has been one of the major factors pushing television producers to turn to women's genre. Data from Shanghai Media Group's advertising department shows that 52 percent of China's television viewers are women. A report from Guotai Junan Securities says purchasing decisions for 70 percent of China's households are made by women, with these purchases accounting for more than 66 percent of China's GDP. When it comes to entertainment, women are also willing to pay for an advance look at the top online dramas – but only for the good ones.

"Women are emotional and they usually buy things impulsively. The KOL sales count on women to be their major purchasers. So, psychologically, women turn out to be the major purchasers for TV and media producers," said Wang.

Of course, TV and media producers are happy to take advantage of this fact. In the drama "Nothing But Thirty," for example, advertising for women's products like cosmetics and mother and baby products pop up on the screen for a few seconds, before going away and letting a viewer get back to the action. 

And there are more actions on the way. Before long you'll be able to look for these new programs: "Love in Shanghai," "Fighting Youth," and "My Best Friend's Story", all appealing to women, and hoping to appeal to their pocketbooks as well.

(Chen Tong also contributed to the story.)


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