Buying stocks? Pay attention to trends in women’s interests and habits

The rise of women and women empowerment has big ramifications on the economic future of India and developing markets. Marico, SKS Microfinance and TTK Prestige are stocks influenced by women

Did you know that 64% of all purchases are influenced by women, and this is particularly in developing economies such as India? Did you know that a whopping $4.3 trillion is earned by women in the US? This is expected to increase by $5 trillion in the future, and the number is expected to grow bigger. Such is their importance of women in decision-making in households. According to Boston Consulting Group, one billion women now participate in the workforce globally and they now control 50% of the wealth in the US. Globally as many women attend university as men as more females take up education to empower themselves. In a new thematic report, Espirito Santo Securities has highlighted the importance of women and, within the context of women empowerment and importance in society and life, the investment avenues where women are influential.

Some of the key sectors where women play an important role are food, apparel, financial services, healthcare, consumer durables, telecom services and real estate. We will be focusing only on Indian aspects of the report as well as the three companies mentioned where women have a key role—Marico, SKS Microfinance and TTK Prestige.

In India, there have been several rapid strides in women empowerment. While emerging markets are yet to catch up with developed countries, the emergence of women, over here, as a new force to reckon with will have wide-reaching ramifications. The next few decades will be important as more women contribute to the workforce and economy. This will change industries and the economic landscape significantly over the next few decades and catch up with developed countries such as Norway and US.

In fact, some of the top business leaders in the Indian workforce today are women. The CEO of ICICI Bank is Chanda Kochhar.  The CEO of Axis Bank is Shikha Sharma. Naina Lal Kidwai is the group general manager and country head of HSBC India, part of the global banking juggernaut—HSBC. Indra Nooyi is currently the head of PepsiCo, one of the world’s largest soft-drinks conglomerates. Kalpana Morparia is the CEO of JP Morgan India. And these are not small companies by any means—they are big if not huge. And there are more, not just in business but in other spheres of life as well—political, social and even sports—everywhere. Their profile is rapidly increasing and has implications not just from societal point of view but also economic standpoint.

What has been the driver of this remarkable empowerment in India? The key drivers of have been improvement in wealth, lower fertility, higher education, access to information and technology, according to Espirito Santo.  

Economic liberalisation meant more television channels and newspapers. As more women tune to cable TV, they come to know about the world view and cultures in different parts of the country. In fact, in India, “informal education”, among the rural folks, has been a powerful tool for the women’s empowerment. According to Robert Jensen and Emily Oster, cable TV may lead to changes in attitudes towards women, even without targeted interventions.

The other key factors for women empowerment has been health and education. It has been established that women outlive men and better health and lower fertility rates meant more women entering the global workforce. Despite endemic marriages at young age, especially in rural India, women have been able to delay motherhood. The awareness of sexual practices and family planning amongst many families has been instrumental in lowering fertility rates. According to Espirito Santo, “In 2011, Emerging Market Women (EMW) were still getting ‘married’ significantly earlier: 47% of 20-24 year old Indian women were already married/in union before the age of 18. Despite this, women have been able to delay motherhood. This was the key catalyst for women to start joining the workforce.”

One of the most heartening aspects of the report has been increased optimism for women and their daughters’ place in the future. More believed that the future generation holds bright. A 2011 report by Nielsen, according to Espirito Santo, reports that roughly “77% of the women in emerging economies believe that the future will be brighter for their daughters and wanted to share more responsibilities in life decisions”. This is a markedly huge shift in optimism and empowerment in women over the years. Much of it has been helped by education and technologies.

Consider the following graphs. Women are not only key decision makers, but also understand the power of education in empowering daughters for the future. As you can see, more than half of the women in the survey wanted to spend money towards education—far more than developed countries. Secondly, the role of technology has made nearly everything accessible to them for improving their lives—particularly the television. Television has exposed them to newer cultures and way of life, and also exposed them to role models and such.

Within the context of women empowerment, which companies are influenced by women? Espirito Santo has come up with three companies, namely Marico, TTK Prestige and SKS Microfinance as companies where women play a key role in their profitability.

TTK Prestige

We had put a write-up on Espirito Santo’s forecast on TTK Prestige earlier. Check here ( to see what they have to say about the company’s future prospects. According to the company, it is reported that an astounding 90% of its buyers are women! Since our report, it has downgraded the fair value to Rs3,000 and put it as neutral but remains bullish over the long term.


Marico is a fast-moving consumer good company, and owner of the flagship brand—Parachute Oil. According to Espirito Santo, Marico is a good pick because, “more Indian women entering the workforce and increasing their discretionary spending power, they are increasingly buying aspirational beauty products. Married working women are also looking for meals that reduce their workload and offer nutritional alternatives, like oats for breakfast and branded edible oil.” However, the brokerage is neutral on the company, with fair value at Rs214.49.

SKS Microfinance

The company had been in the limelight throughout much of last year, mostly for all the wrong reasons, particularly politicking amongst the brass. However, Espirito Santo feels that it is past all that now. It said, “The last six months the company has not only left the Andhra crisis behind it, but has also raised Rs.263 crore of capital, which should be enough to take care of its capital requirement for the next couple of years.” It lends micro-loans to the poor, mostly through self-help groups (SHGs) who are largely constituted by women. With the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) initiative to step in and regulate the sector, the industry can expect better numbers. Espirito Santo believes it is a BUY and with fair value being Rs143.87.


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