‘Reward Me’ — A Niche Unplugged

To drive purchase, in the future, ‘focus on the woman, focusing on herself’, for a change

There are, generally speaking, large consumer motivations such as the need for identity, stature, mastery, belonging, affection, expression, and more. The self-reward motivation, was always there, however, as a niche.

Yet, interestingly, over several years, the niche of self-reward, as a purchase driver, seems to have intensified, particularly for women consumers. From a narrow lens, demographically speaking, middle-aged women usually shrug and argue “if not me, then who”, senior women usually affirm with a quirk of the eyebrow, and a wry smile “if not now then when”. From a broader mindset lens, there seem to be 3 drivers for self-reward intensifying — accountability, attitude, and appreciation.

Accountability: Milestones Crossed

There is a compelling life stage argument. Stakes are higher, competition stiffer, choices more complex, life more complicated and the conditions more dynamic, fluid, open to last-minute change. In such a context, accountability is a tall ask, a risk-riddled cliffhanger, at times. Thus, often, sheer survival is praiseworthy, accomplishment calls for wild celebration, in some way. Yet, often, that too, is not feasible. A bit of self-reward helps, to reassure the

heart and create a sense of occasion. Thus, the accomplishment of key milestones, whether for education, work, home, caregiving, fulfillment of family responsibilities is both a precious relief and also justifying narrative for a much-deserved self-rewarding purchase. It makes up for the ‘years and tears’ of labour of love. (Only till the preparation begin for the next uphill life challenge).

Attitude: Lens of 'Queenagers' & 'Xennials'

Speaking of mature or senior women, trends suggest their mindset is of a posh, older, more affluent teenager. “I think the proper name for senior women should be Queenagers” — Alyson Walsh. This “Queenager” mindset spells spontaneity, experience & experimentation richness, open to indulgence on oneself. Relatedly, the Xennial mindset (described also as Millenials with Money) is all about the yearning to think, be and act youthful, but with a touch of affluence. Xennials actively make time to pursue their passions, cool experiences, all with a dash of luxury. Think, sneakers, just designer ones, or concerts, just the ones with best tickets. For Queenager and Xennial mindsets, the pursuit of self-reward is an easy decision. No permission wanted. No waiting is expected.

Appreciation: Latent Yearning

Appreciation is related to self-reward, yet distinct from it. A desire for appreciation runs deep, always has. Yet, earlier, desiring appreciation was a sentiment that remained largely unvoiced. Or

more practically, it was muted by strong inner voices of stoic acceptance, social familiarity, hard rationalisation. “But we are not a I love you I love you society only” “amongst us, it is understood not said” “x has never said it but feels it, I know” “you got to be joking to expect it” “the fact that nothing bad is said is more than enough”. Due to sentiments like these the notion of “receiving appreciation” was parked in the “we are not like this only” bay.

Yet, in recent times, several attitude shifts have made way, for solving for lack of appreciation (to a small extent). One of these, is a realisation, of women needing to step up to help themselves, no longer be waiting or expecting others to help them. This attitude shift surfaced strongly in ‘changing consumer culture’ studies. Women ‘stepping up’ together with their desire for appreciation, landed a DIY punch in the motivational landscape. With “self reward” driven purchases exploding across categories!

Self-Reward Unplugged

To drive purchase, in the future, ‘focus on the woman, focusing on herself’, for a change. In a collective, duty first, ‘others always a priority, there is the slightest shift of perspective slowly emerging. A wholehearted willingness towards novel, premium or regular/quicker purchases of products, services and experiences that promise “reward me”. For instance, beauty, content, education, travel, home, technology, financial services and other preferences. Experience, aspiration, inspiration, contemplation, protection, expansion and reconnection on offer are enthusiastically accepted, indeed advocated. Beyond fulfilling the functional aspects of their categories, these purchases are seen as emotionally or mentally uplifting, supporting, transforming, enriching.

In effect, self-reward-driven purchases are fuelling “ownership” of one’s journey in all aspects, through all its stages. Contributing, in a small yet timely way to wellbeing, connection, learning, mastery, exploration, creativity, meaning. Self-reward might no longer be a niche, but a ripe purchase motivation to inspire present and future communication, design, premiumization, innovation, loyalty and more.

Notice, the ladies shout with a whisper, ‘reward me’. And when and if they can, they will unapologetically buy the brands that do.

The author is Shaziya Khan, National Planning Director, Wunderman Thompson India

Tags assigned to this article:

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.