Looking at our market, it is easy to see that only half of it is fully targeted, when looking at bars and restaurants - it is mostly men, bank queues are the same, as are many companies.
One cannot help but notice that most of our major businesses have simply ignored the female market; women are important drivers in marketing, they often control the family budget, have a major say in all purchasing decisions, determine style and fashion, and above all they are more numerous and live longer than men.
So a woman is a better client to have; I often use a particular brand of soap simply because my mother bought when I was a child, my bank is the same, and so many other products I use.
It is tapping into this wider market that will truly unlock the potential of the Rwandan market.
The female market is more discerning and will not be tapped into easily; our companies cannot simply change their advert campaigns to feature more women. One has to start the whole marketing process again.
Starting with the first P, products, most of the products on our market are designed by and for men, be it in the financial sector, phone airtime, beverages, and everything you can think of. Redesigning these products is necessary and banks need to make their accounts and services more female-friendly.
Women have different financial needs, particularly with regards to family. Even mothers, who work part-time and have unsteady incomes need tailored services that put the family into consideration.
Women are better debtors in micro-finance as they often repay promptly and use the money for family projects.
In order to tap the female market, we will need more competitive pricing in goods and services, women are naturally more aware of the costs of daily goods and services, due to their role as house budget keepers.
The fact that women bulk-buy on behalf of their families means that they must get more economies of scale like more goods for their money; we do not have the concept of fast retail in Rwanda, we are happy to let goods gather dust.
In order to drive faster consumption and have to turnover goods at a higher rate and take lower margins on larger volumes, competitive pricing is the only way to do this.
Product placement is another issue; businesses need to place their products where women can access them.
It means either making the retail market more female friendly or moving the market to the women; looking at our business venues, more should be done to get them through the door.
The final aspect is promotion, our adverts have to focus more on women; in the West they discovered that adverts aimed at women have better market penetration because women drive opinion and taste.
Hence, a Gillete men’s shaving razor can be advertised at women “Ladies, get your man the best present – a smooth shave, so when you kiss him, his skin isn’t too rough.” So the wife demands her husband change brands, for her convenience.
When the female market has been explored, then we can better segment the market into niches that can target specific markets, but for now we just need the other half to get some attention.