Marketing To Women In An Age Of #MeToo

There has never been a more opportune time for marketers to reach women. The interest in #MeToo and issues such as pay disparity have moved to the front and center. Companies and organizations are creating and leveraging new hashtags such as #HereWeAre #PressforProgress, #InternationalWomensDay and that highlight their commitment to gender equality. 

Good timing. Women’s buying power is reaching an all-time high. Many marketers are smartly leveraging platforms such as International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month for their brands to better target women. It is the successful marketer who offers relevant, impactful and respectful messaging that truly resonates with today’s women.

Increasing Buying Power of Women

Despite the fact that women earn 81 cents for every dollar a man earns in 2018, women control over $20 trillion in worldwide spendingand over 60% of all personal wealth in the U.S. Their spending is not just on female-oriented products. In fact, women purchase 50% of traditional male products including automobiles, home improvement products and consumer electronics — and account for 85% of all consumer purchases.  Women are also influential: 92% pass along information about deals or online recommendations to others and 75% identify themselves as the primary shoppers for their households. 



What Do Women Want?

Despite the higher level of awareness of women’s issues today, there is a gender gap on the actual pace of change. According to a recent Kantar study, American women believe that progress is slow in spite of the prominence of the issue, and, as Ross Tucker, executive editor at Kantar US Insights, wrote, “Women in particular want to see more tangible, quantifiable signs of progress.” 

In recent years, movies such as Hidden Figures and Wonder Woman, as well as Black Panther, have authentically and massively connected with female audiences (and beyond), demonstrating that media that represents and empowers the female voice will have more impact among women. Advertising needs to do more in this area.

According to Adweek, new research, presented at Cannes by J. Walter Thompson and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, shows that there is still unconscious bias in advertising and content. Men appear in ads four times more often than women and have seven times more speaking roles. Twenty-five percent of ads feature only men compared to 5% that only show women. Men are the sole speakers in 18% of ads versus 3% with women as the only speaker. In terms of sheer numbers, there are twice as many male characters as females in advertising.

Marketers and Brands Respond

Advertisers and brands, recognizing the importance of crafting their marketing messages to connect with women, have devised creative ways to highlight their female-friendly attributes in time for International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. McDonald’s turned its golden arches upside down to make a ‘W’ as a commemoration. Mattel debuted 17 Inspiring Women Barbies that represent real women who have served as role models for girls (although most are one-of-a-kind and not for general sale.)

Nike aired a new ad during the Academy Awards, which highlighted Serena Williams’ powerful message, “There’s no wrong way to be a woman.” And, Twitter’s Oscars ad included a powerful anthem to women as part of the #HereWeAre campaign, featuring a number of powerful female leaders.

Ultimately, advertisers have to offer more stuff than fluff to convince female consumers that they understand their world. Representation is pivotal along with cultivating the right message. We as an industry need to walk the talk. There is lots of work to do but it represents a big opportunity for marketers (especially the women in the industry).

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