Is anyone buying gender marketing?

You can hardly look through the latest marketing news at the moment without stumbling upon the very latest gender marketing buzzword, last month it was all about Femvertising, this week it’s ‘Fempowerment’ but it left us asking what does this actually mean? Both in terms of the industry and also how all this latest ad speak translates to the coal face experience women have when they’re actually in ‘buying mode’ in store.

While advertisers are quickly ditching the old clichés of what women are supposed to feel and do in favour of rebooted real life observations, it’s become apparent that this new wave of brand engagement feels, well, quite similar.

Tick the box if this applies to the new much talked about ad for a female brand you’ve seen this month: –

Female empowerment:

Men and women as equals:

Uplifting stories of achievement in the face of the adversity:

A new unbridled feminine ambition:

Yes inequality exists for women and we’ve been patronised by advertising for too long; but is the advertising of brands the right kind of unbiased/objective forum to host a debate about gender roles? Especially when you consider how male dominated the advertising industry is, with just 13% senior advertising executive roles held by women in the UK*

It’s also a risky strategy for brands that jump on the gender marketing bandwagon, it may seem disingenuous to many as consumers find themselves asking “why the sudden change of heart and why now”?

Perhaps brands don’t need to make such singular impact statements and shout so loudly in just one area. Watching the new Always TV ad was a genuinely uplifting experience for me, but then while shopping the next day I noticed the brand on shelf bore no relationship to the proud new brand I’d just seen. This was a pack covered in pretty girly flowers, in soft pastel green with a giant product illustration proudly exclaiming it’s LeakGuard technology. The disconnect was palpable!

Women are the most discerning consumers with a greater band width for design.  You can be terribly subtle and braver with design than you think. Because women are great at joining the dots. But it seems that when it comes to brands on shelves there’s still a massive gulf in what women really want and what they currently have to accept.

Perhaps if brands want to enter into a real and lasting relationship with women they should stop short of just saying stuff and instead start living it in everything they do. To do away with the overt headline statements and instead chose to have lots of meaningful conversations, whenever and whereever their consumers can find them, otherwise this new Femvertising runs the risk of feeling more and more like good old fashioned ‘Manvertising’.

* Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

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