VIPShop_600x480Vipshop Holdings Limited, one of the largest online discount retailers for brands globally and No.1 female-oriented vertical eCommerce retailer in China , has initiated and partnered with The Economist Intelligence Unit of the Economist Group on a survey regarding the growing buying power of female consumers in Asia .

The report, titled On the rise and online: Female consumers in Asia, was released this week and has surveyed 5,500 women across major urban areas in Greater China, India , Japan , South Korea and Singapore , as well as consumer analysts, major retailers and brand owners.

The study found that women are driving the growth of online shopping in the region, with many preferring online to offline. Among survey respondents, 63% browse the Internet at least once a day for products and services, with nearly 30% doing so twice or more per day. Slightly fewer than 80% of women regionally buy groceries online, 83% for cosmetics and the figure rises to nearly 90% for clothing and accessories.

Eric Shen , Chairman and CEO of Vipshop said: "Women are a unique and important driving force in the Asian market and at Vipshop over 80% of the accumulative 90 million members are females, who contribute to 90% of our sales. The partnership with the EIU allowed us the opportunity to learn more about consumer shopping habits and to further expand upon its leadership position in China's online retail market.”

Perhaps most troubling for retailers which are focused on the brick-and-mortar business has been that nearly half (49%) of women polled agreed or strongly agreed that they preferred the experience of shopping online to doing so in stores. The figure was as high as 69% in mainland China.

Additional key findings from the report:

  • Women in Asia's major cities are increasingly empowered. Region-wide, 43% of the women responding to the survey were in managerial, executive or professional services jobs, while 83% contribute to household income.
  • Most women are in charge of budgeting decisions on cosmetics (81%), clothing and accessories (73%), groceries (67%) and maternity and children's products (57%), and they are at least co-decision makers in most other product categories like electronics and travel services.
  • At least on the Internet, many Asian women do not seem to be living up to the stereotype of selfless, family-focused individuals. Over 62% of women are buying for themselves most of the time when shopping online; in mainland China that rate rises to 74% and to 77%t among 18-29 year olds.
  • Women have a variety of reasons to prefer online shopping. Most point to cost (62%) and time (60%) savings, but they also feel that online retailers can be relied upon to have the products they want to buy (59%), and they appreciate the range of choice online shopping offers (56%).
  • When choosing an online retailer, women say price (83%) is important or very important, but so are quality (83%), genuine products (82%) and convenience (77%).
  • Getting the messaging right will be tricky. While messages that address them as independent, intelligent consumers were found appealing to 56% women, 54 % said they found messages addressing them as wives, mothers or girlfriends to be attractive.
  • The future of online shopping looks mobile and impulsive: 58% of the youngest (18-29) demographic surveyed shop online with their smartphones at home, versus 38% of 40-49 year olds. While overall some 43% reported spending more money online than they do in physical shops, again the rates among those 18-29 were even higher (56%). Over half of women 18-29 year olds agreed that they were more likely to buy impulsively online.

Laurel West, editor of the report, said, "Women are controlling spending in a variety of categories where you would expect them to, such as clothing and accessories, cosmetics and groceries, but they also have an increasing influence in bigger ticket items such as electronics. Many brands are realizing this and making efforts to better understand what is important to female consumers."

According to the EIU report, Asian women regard "quality (83%), price (83%) and genuine products (82%) as the top three factors when they choose online retailers. Obviously, Vipshop's business model of "online discount retailing for branded and genuine products" naturally matches with women's demands and criteria for online shopping.

The EIU report also reveals that women have dominant online spending control in the buying of clothing and accessories, cosmetics, maternity and children's products, and home goods, which coincidently proves the rightness of Vipshop's she-economy strategies that it conducted one year ago. Since then, Vipshop has expanded its categories from apparel and accessories to cosmetics, maternity and children's products, as well as home goods to leverage the increasing power of the she-economy.