Breaking The Bias: Why Brands Must Intentionally and Accurately Represent Women in Messaging

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If common sense, instinct, and good ethics weren’t enough to convince brands that the accurate portrayal of women in marketing was important, there is now data to prove it. According to the 2021 GEM Lift Study conducted by SeeHer and IRI using LG Ad Solutions TV viewership data, women across the globe together control $31.5 trillion in consumer spending, of which $10 trillion is in the US alone. A massive chunk of the consumer spend is women-led, with 90% of decisions around purchasing consumer goods driven by women.

Our world is not as equitable as we wish it to be, to make a gross understatement. But media today plays a central and pivotal role in fighting against discrimination and improving equality. In fact, more than half (52%) of consumers believe that the onus is, in part, on media to improve equality. Similarly, 72% believe that brands can drive social change. 

GEM Study To Understand Impact of Equal Representation on Brand Sales 

SeeHer has been actively involved in measuring the value of diversity in media. In its latest effort, SeeHer led the development of a measurability index called GEM (Gender Equality Measure) to examine unconscious gender bias in advertising and programming. GEM evaluates the accurate portrayal of women and girls in ads and programming. The baseline GEM score is 100, with any score higher than 100 meaning that the programming/commercial accurately represents the female population. 

The GEM research study* conducted found that:

*For full methodology on the research study download the 2021 GEM Lift Study here. (Page 16)

  1. A campaign creative that accurately portrays women and girls can garner five times incremental sales lift and two times sales lift when placed in proper programming
  2. Across gender, language, race and ethnicity, ads with high GEM scores overall delivered 60% improved sales performance
  3. Ads that score 106 or above on GEM see a 12% incremental sales lift for women and an 81% lift for men vs. those scoring below that number
  4. Ads placed on TV shows that have a high GEM score also contribute to significant sales increases (up to 93% lift)

LG Ads womens equality

Inclusion and representation should be the core of every business

Media investment directed at marginalized audience groups is very small compared to the percentage they account for in the population. For example, there are 31 million Hispanic women in the US, representing one in five women overall. However, according to the Hispanic Marketing Council, only 6% of advertising industry investment is directed at the Hispanic community. This discrepancy is also present for Asian and Black audiences, in part due to lack of diversity within companies.

Understanding the audience is key. Having a team that can add a cultural lens, that can interpret the data, make it [the Hispanic audience ad experience] authentic and make it real is extremely important. In front of and behind the camera, the creatives at any point must reflect the audience.” – Annie Leal, Head of Content at H Code

As a society, we are making strides, most often in the right direction, toward shattering stereotypes and biases. While inclusion is obviously beneficial for society, it is also valuable to the bottom line: Brands that stand for accurate representation and have a diverse internal makeup build trust and loyalty with the consumer, leading to increased sales performance. Media that showcases the intersectionality and multidimensional personality of an audience helps them feel seen. As such, if brands want to grow and gain more traction with their audiences, focusing on equality should be the highest priority. 


Interested in learning more? Download the 2021 GEM Lift Study – Accurate Portrayal of Women and Girls Accelerates Business Growth Across Gender, Language, Race and Ethnicity here.

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