Women, you are all supposed to be a Sarah Jessica Parker-type of perfect mom -- effervescent presence, Miss Personality, and all-around success -- and if you're not, there's something wrong with you. That might be prima facie rather extreme, but it's pretty close to where a lot of marketers go when trying to ingratiate themselves to their female consumer base. Unfortunately, while that might be what women think is expected of them, it is at odds -- not surprisingly -- with what women actually want.
A new study, “Today’s Women: Newfound Power, Persistent Expectations,” performed by Ipsos for Schawk's brand-development division, Anthem Worldwide, looked at Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers, and found that women are aware of external expectations around "doing it all" and looking good and acting nice in the process, regardless of their generation or their age, but that their internal motivations do not, by and large, reflect those ideas.
The study, which examines external (what women feel is expected of them,) and internal (their own motivations) drivers, is based on findings from a sample of 1,033 females from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel. Women rated factors around “Do It All,” “Look Good” and “Be Nice.” And the study asked for responses around statements like “I believe I’m expected to ‘have a career’ and ‘make sure the household runs smoothly,’” to “I believe I’m expected to ‘be attractive’” and “I believe I’m expected to ‘be nice.’” Other personally driven factors ranged from “be happy” and “be healthy” to “follow my own personal motivations” and “have balance in life.”
For the majority of the factors, 50% or more women said they were expected and motivated to do them. And 86% of female respondents thought women should both pursue their own personal motivations and be able to make their own choices and not be judged by them.
There are more women motivated to have balance in life (75%) and be fulfilled (73%) compared to those motivated to do it all (44%). Seventy percent of women are motivated to be financially independent, compared to 49% who are motivated to have a career.
Sixty-three percent of respondents said they felt expected and 59% motivated to be attractive. Over 80% of women feel both expected and motivated to be nice.
The biggest expectation/motivation gap is with Generation X women, 61% of whom said they feel expected to do it all versus 49% who said they were motivated to do so.
Almost 50% of Generation X women agreed, “I wish companies provided services that would help me fit everything into my day,” and almost 50% of these women also said they would pay more for products that make their life easier. And 60% of women in the survey said media, entertainment and marketing advertisements do not accurately represent women of today.
Kathy Oneto, VP, brand strategy at Anthem’s San Francisco office said in the study that marketers should be more authentic with women, "Based on a foundation of deep, empathic understanding rather than ... simply an informed vantage point that is often out of sync with women’s true motivations."