Globally, women control $31.5 trillion in consumer spending, of which $10 trillion in the U.S. alone. Additionally, women worldwide drive nearly 90% of consumer goods purchases due to their high purchasing power and authority over buying decisions (IRI, SeeHer, GEM Lift Study 2021). When a brand does create campaigns specific to women, there is sometimes a lack of a nuanced understanding of her needs. This can lead to tokenism and unrealistic depictions of women, which alienates not just female, but also male audiences from the brand.
This disparity hits deeper for multicultural audiences. AARP, in a recent survey, found that only 34% of respondents believed that black women are portrayed positively by the ad industry. These numbers fell even lower for Latina women (27%) and Asian women (25%). Older women also felt similarly, with 20% only agreeing that older women are positively portrayed in ads.
Last month, we celebrated Women’s History Month with a brilliant panel of female powerhouses, Shari Hawkins, Associate Director, Digital Investment – Adidas at EssenceMediacom; Christine Guilfoyle, President at SeeHer; Louisa Kinoshi, Director of Growth Product Marketing at Bumble; Tiana Conley, Vice President of Global Portfolio Strategy at Mars; and LG Ad Solutions’ Head of Strategic Sales, Katie Barrett. The webinar discussed the importance of speaking to women directly, both from a representation and business perspective and the difference in expectations between different consumer generations. The panel also looked back on the work done to open doors for female professionals while contemplating what is yet to be accomplished.
In case you missed it, here are the top headlines from the webinar:
1.The FOMO is real: The female consumer demonstrates a massive opportunity for brands. The mantra necessary for brands to create impactful, influential campaigns targeted towards women? If you can see her, then you can be her. If a woman truly sees herself in the content or advertising, it will resonate with her and garner her loyalty. Therefore, accurate representation is a prime factor in cementing a strong relationship between brand and consumer. To get there, the first step is to understand that all women are not the same. Brands that talk to the female audience directly and allow her to see herself – whether in terms of age, body type, ability, life stage, or sexual orientation – are likely to deliver a positive impact. With this kind of clear consumer understanding and authentic portrayal of real women, the $$ are sure to follow.
2.Generations are the titans of culture: Gen Z demands that any brand, as an inherent baseline, be inclusive and genuine. They want to know what a brand stands for and will do the research to ensure that a brand, through its actions, makes good on what it says. They can see through brands that capitalize on special days or months without a year-round commitment to make a difference or deliberate attempt to connect with a diverse group. This small but mighty digital native generation is not afraid to share their feedback with brands, not just in words, but also in the zipping up of their wallets. As this group ages, their purchasing power will only increase. It is critical to listen to them and build marketing strategies that ‘pass the vibe check.’
3. Do what you say, say what you do: For brands that believe they are strong proponents of diversity and inclusion, simply showcasing minority women in the creative does not cut it. It is equally, if not more valuable, to have women from different backgrounds and ethnicities behind the scenes – having intimate discussions to truly understand and then take a call on who is depicted on screen and in what manner. Having a monochromatic set of people drive decisions leads to a lack of authenticity and inherent tokenism. It is imperative to ask the hard questions, dig deep, sharpen your pencil on nuances and uncover insights. Just as important is ensuring diverse creators and marketers feel safe to voice their opinion within an organization.
4. Celebrate the wins but look to the future: We are seeing more women at the top – as executives, founders, and leaders – balancing both career and family with equal parts perseverance and success. While this is definitely reason to celebrate, it is essential to hone in on spaces where the playing field is not level and, in fact, the odds are stacked against women. For example, in the media: according to the ANA, in 2021, 25% of all ads featured men only, while just 5% featured women only. Last year, men were portrayed in professional roles 73% more often, and in leadership roles 30% more often than women as compared to the previous year. Women were seen 46% more often in domestic roles, furthering gender stereotypes (CreativeX). This media depiction reflects on how people perceive women and can undo the hard work done by women to prove that they are highly intelligent and capable.
Women are more than one thing at the same time. They are moms, daughters, professionals, breadwinners, and more. Media companies and brands can lean in further, push boundaries, and utilize tools in front of and behind the camera to represent the woman consumer as the intersectional, multilayered person she is. The world is often reflected in media, but media can also directly impact how the world works. This means that media and brands shoulder a significant responsibility in illustrating women both as they are and how they want to be perceived.
To learn more about how to authentically represent and consciously engage with the female audience, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or our contact page.
Examples of brilliant campaigns worked on by our amazing panelists:
Watch the full webinar on-demand: