Our Taiwanese colleague, Yi Zoe Hou, was recently interviewed by The Economist for an article about Asian demography titled, “The Flight from Marriage.” While the magazine said her career is as a psychologist, Yi Zoe’s real job is account director at ICL MSL, the Taiwanese PR firm that MSLGROUP acquired in February. Her interview prompted some questions of our own here at the MSLGROUP blog.
Q. How did The Economist interview come about?
A. The Taiwan Correspondent of The Economist, who’s Australian, asked to interview me. She was one of several reporters writing about Asian professional women who are delaying marriage. Knowing me personally through my past work, she thought I fit the profile.
Q. The magazine says you work as a psychologist. While the reporter didn’t get it exactly right, we know you have dabbled in it. Can you explain how psychology and PR intersect?
A. I’ve been working in PR for a long time. From the beginning of 2010 through June 2011 I studied psychology in London out of personal interest. In mid-June, I returned to ICL MSL for the second time, possessing another set of skills and knowledge in psychology and counselling. I intend to advance my study in coaching and counselling in the future and combine it with the communication profession. I can use these skills to mentor young employees and better understand people’s motivations and behaviors–key information when you are trying to communicate to an audience on behalf of a client.
Q. The article discusses the growing prominence of educated and affluent women across Asia. What trends are you seeing from the marketing perspective?
A. HEIDIs (Highly Educated Independent Degree-carrying Individuals) refer to women aged 25 to 40 something; they enjoy an independent life financially and professionally. This trend is reflected in the marketing of real estate, luxury goods, alcohol, sports apparel, and design products in Taiwan. A campaign for diamonds a few years ago stated that, “Every woman can buy her own first diamond if she wants to–she needn’t wait for a guy.” In this campaign, the diamond symbolized self-love, independence and a good investment.
Women’s growing affluence is also having a major impact on real estate in Taiwan. In fact, real estate registered or owned by women is almost as common as male-owned property. This is due to a couple factors:
1. For married couples, the women often decide which house to buy, and registering the property under the wife’s name is a way to show commitment.
2. More and more single women don’t wait for marriage to become property owners. They are acquiring their own property for their personal home or as a pure investment. The same trend can be found in the coastal big cities of mainland China.
As for sports apparel, Nike has long been campaining for women’s independence and strength, as people will see in the “Make Yourself” Fall 20ll campaign shot by photographer Annie Liebovitz. The booming of yoga leisure centers and dance studios in Taipei City is another reflection of how women are taking care of themselve by excercising for pleasure and enjoyment.
Finally, it is important for marketers to know that in Asia, at least in the urban areas, women are earning as much or sometimes even more than men. And with this come power and influence. The “Single Economy,” proposed by Japanese strategiest and trend observing expert Kenichi Ohmae, is happening right at this moment, and in the wave, Asian women are the up-and-coming force driving the Asian economy. I read his latest book in Chinese but don’t think the English version is out yet. Given the book’s popularity, the term “Single Economy” is now widely used in the Chinese press.