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Feminity Is A Megatrend of the Digital Age




by Ashwin Rajan


Illustration by: Greta Maria Margherita Montalbano @

While chatting about the Game of Thrones with friends, I've noticed something fascinating about what women tend see about the series that men tend to miss.

Once at dinner, a female friend remarked that at its outset the series is completely dominated by men, with all 'their' women - wives, mothers, daughters, lovers and slaves - cowering behind them in the shadows . But as the series progresses, she went on, all these strong and powerful men pretty much die out or are overpowered by one or another of the women, who take over leadership positions as the show reaches its finale.

Barely as I processed this simple but astute observation, another of the women at the table chimed in: "True! Remember how Daenerys Targaryen (a leading female protagonist) tells her new handmaiden Missandei : "All men must die; but we are not men."

Why is this so interesting and important in a digitally connected age? It's because the dominant narrative is always among the first cultural products to be impacted by a new means of cultural production. Our new means of cultural production is digital technology - and today's digital media and entertainment worlds are deeply fascinating as they reveal more about our 'zeitgeist' - the cultural and social pulse of our time - than anything else.

So how is feminity coming to the fore in today's world?

Connected tools, primarily led by the smartphone, are fast democratising the means of cultural narrative and production across the genders. They are bringing women as equal participants into social dialogue and change. This is a massive shift enabled by connectedness, something historically unprecedented in my opinion.

Historically, there has been an underlying and tacit alliance between literacy, the means of media production - and masculinity. It is the reason most scribes and the so-called 'learned' - keepers of knowledge - were men. Monks, again mostly men, wrote, locked away and passed on the dominant cultural ideas of the time, in science or religion or politics. The printing press, although it radically opened up opportunities for new groups to participate in cultural dialogue, still featured the Bible as its first mass produced product: a clear indication of its dominance by a male institution, the church.

Print, radio and television were all 'mass media' in the sense that their control lay in hands of producers, so women who wanted to participate still had to jockey with men for the few positions of power. The connected age is changing all that, fast. Digital tools can be acquired cheaply anywhere and enable anyone to produce and distribute media across the globe almost instantaneously. This means women everywhere now have access pretty much overnight to tools that can help them influence, choose, and shape the kind of material and spiritual life they desire, entirely without the influence or permission of men.

The reasons why women behave and choose differently than men are probably as grounded in culture and social context as in gender itself. But as a result of these differeneces, the demand for products and services for women designed and built by women is only starting to shape up. Clue and Cosmethics are just two good examples of such products I've been following. Expect every single product category you know of to be impacted by this shift toward Feminity. At Fabric, we've been exploring a number of way how this could happen, but very quickly, here are three:

  • Women might prioritise differently than men
  • Women might decide differently than men
  • Women might develop loyalties differently than men

But as a result of these differences, the demand for products and services for women designed and built by women is only starting to shape up as a result. Clue and Cosmethics are just two great examples I've been following. Expect every single product category you know of will be impacted as a result.

Here's what the Clue home page looks like. Don't you find the combination of the words 'beauty' and 'science' a refreshing one?

In our work at Fabric, we study and apply such emerging behavioural and cultural shifts in numerous ways: anticipating demand, designing value propositions, tracking traction and movement ín digital markets being just a few.


Watch this space.

Updates, 2017:

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