How #GenderEquality has impacted marketing

Although we can all agree #GenderEquality is a long overdue subject worldwide, women’s rights continue to be ignored and violated everywhere, and at times marketing and advertising campaigns have been guilty of inciting such actions, objectifying and sexualizing women, ignoring their needs or their wants.

However, women’s movements have grown exponentially in the last few years and gender roles have altered, empowering females to discover their professional and personal value beyond anything we’ve seen before.

Despite not having equal rights today (gender gap in salaries in the U.S. only is over 20%, for example), throughout time women have evolved, no longer being helpless housewives and taking control of their lives, choosing to live their lives however they see fit, pursuing what makes them feel whole.

These changes in the roles have certainly impacted the way marketing strategies and advertising campaigns are built, despite what many advertising companies and brands attempts to show. Brands can be a force of action and enlightenment in this process, or the exact opposite.

No more gender washing

Today most women work and most importantly women have the final word when it comes to approximately 85% of all purchase decisions, yet at one point or another many companies have fallen into gender washing.

As Professor Jenny Darroch from the Drucker School of Management explains in her blog, ‘gender washing has two defining characteristics: (1) a failure to acknowledge women’s distinct needs, and/or (2) a belief that marketing to women simply means offering the “shrink it and pink it “ version of men’s products.’

This, unfortunately, continues to be a common practice in advertising, and fails miserably with their target audience. We’ve seen many examples, like Bic’s Pens for Her, Fujitsu “Floral Kiss” lady-computer or Honda Fit ‘She’s’, that had among other features a windshield that prevents you from getting new wrinkles or has an air conditioning that improves skin quality (because what woman doesn’t dream of that?!). The reaction? Probably not what they expected…

Innovate, don’t stereotype

It’s incredible how still today many marketers turn to gender stereotypes trying to ‘conquer’ the female market, when most of these stereotypes, if they were ever true, are completely outdated. Not only do they confuse female with feminine, but also assume all women are feminine.

And what’s even worse, many brands feed on women and girl’s insecurities with their body, their beauty…and unfortunately this still is profitable, precisely because we’re surrounded constantly by these types of ads, by beautiful perfect women with perfect problem-free lives.

Yes, it would be much easier if one marketing strategy could reach all women, but the reality is that this is a very diverse group, and each and every one of them deserves to be taken into consideration and have their needs addressed. By understanding this, marketers can avoid focusing on demographic differences between women and identify the needs they have and the problems they face on a regular basis.

Empowering marketing strategies are more profitable

Yes. Although many skeptics still doubt the power of marketing strategies focused on empowering women, they have actually proven to boost sales and give brands positive recognition.

The brands that take a chance at promoting positive messages related to women and girls are reaping the greatest benefits. #LikeAGirl by Always, Dove’s ‘A girl’s beauty confidence starts with you….’, ‘Potty-Mouthed Princesses Drop F-Bombs for Feminism’ by FCKH8.com and Ban Bossy by Lean In are only a few of the most successful empowering campaigns in the last few years and the list just keeps getting longer.

Still not convinced? How about letting women tell you what they want? A recent survey conducted by SheKnows revealed that 71% of women think brands should use their ads to encourage positive messages to girls and women everywhere, and 81% consider pro-female ads critical for younger generations.

A good marketing campaign can not only help you sell, but also give your brand media recognition, attention and very positive reviews without even actually promoting any new products. It enforces an idea of what the brand is and stands for.

Empowering women can be the perfect platform to empower your company. Take a social stand. Watch what happens.