I’d wager that Jennifer Aniston’s recent Huffington Post article around the objectification of, and cultural standards, placed on women chimed with almost every woman who read it (and maybe a few chaps too). There are so many well placed points to her argument that transcend the press and extend to the world of digital marketing and advertising.
As a marketer, and as a woman, it’s easy to see that this battle isn’t just being waged by celebrities, it’s happening to the rest of us too. So, if brands want to connect with and sell to the modern woman, they had better wake up and listen to them.
Pregnancy test kits, chocolate and cat food. The products every woman in her 30s wants, needs and desires right? The sheer volume of ads served to me from brands falling into these categories is astounding. Indeed, even alternative sectors poise their messaging around marital or maternal hooks. So, why am I being targeted with them? I’m 31 and female. Well done marketers, you’ve got me nailed, case closed, I’ll now buy all your stuff.
The brands pushing these ads have based their marketing strategy on generic and archaic cultural stereotypes, and so deserve to fall on deaf ears. They’ve made assumptions that don’t relate to me, my interests, my lifestyle choices or my shopping habits – which by the way, if they checked, are extensive.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d be lying if I said I’ll never consider these brands. But the fact is that brands need to execute more relevant and clever marketing messages if they’re going to reach the far more complex lives of both men and women as assigned gender roles become more fluid.
Women are big spenders, and the driving force behind ecommerce sales. According to the Office of National Statistics, last year women in the UK were spending an average of £460m a week online, far exceeding the amount spent by men. What’s more, there are ample volumes of data and insight now available to brands, from social data to search and beyond. So there are no excuses, we should have everything we need to create and serve content that speaks to our audience.
So why is it being ignored? As Aniston highlights, “its a collective acceptance… a subconscious agreement of cultural standards for women.” And to put my two pence in, it’s lazy marketing with a good dose of inflexibility.
Brands will spend thousands, sometimes millions on brand development strategies, so once they’ve pinned that magical brand proposition they’re unwilling to deviate. There’s no room for being static in this space; brands need to iterate on themselves if they’re going to connect and remain relevant. Change is good for everyone.
So, how can we overcome it? Conscientious marketing that actually has audience insight at the core, leading with them in mind, not the brand. We need to listen to the conversation and pore over that data until we find the one thing that makes them tick.
And let’s not be scared to do away with pushing the product; there’s a time and a place for it sure, but push the varying lifestyles, push the passion points and if it’s clever and relevant enough, your audience will connect the dots and become a customer, or better still an ambassador.
Been served some great content that actually spoke to you and not just the masses? Join the debate and share it with us on @mycleveragency.