Our Thinking

Women – changing stereotypes creates opportunity

Refilwe Maluleke, Managing Director

17 October 2018

Women – changing stereotypes creates opportunity

Statistics from globally recognised organisations and research institutions – PwC, Harvard & McKinsey – have found that the market for women is continuing to grow at an exponential rate, while innovating to this segment still isn’t meeting its unique requirements.

In our view, this presents brands with an opportunity to innovate for women and take a firm stance in a market that is open to fresh communication and invigorated campaigns.

Changing narrative

There is power in being the brand that leads the way in building a strategic vision around a changing narrative that remains underwhelmed and underdeveloped.

Some categories remain entrenched in traditional stereotypes, missing the chance to expand market share and drive brand engagement. Tired tropes should be retired in an era where the female voice and economy are increasingly changing conversations and perceptions.

The challenge is that the industry itself requires a shift. Statistically there are only 11% of women in the role of Creative Director in advertising industry. This skews the ways campaigns are created and the messages they convey.

In our whitepaper examining the Female Equation, Ronnie Malden, Creative Director at TLC Marketing said,

Washing powder ads were, and still are, famous for showing housewives who don’t work and only worry about stains on a Monday morning. In a recent campaign, the entire piece of work looks like it was shot in 1960 – women like that just don’t exist anymore, not modern women. If it was intentionally a parody, then I could accept it, but it’s not.

The gender marketing dialogue

That said, companies such as Dove, Ellevest and Kellogg’s have been instrumental in changing the gender marketing dialogue.

Ellevest, an online digital investment platform, found that 86% of investment advisors are men with an average age of 50+. This meant that the investment industry tended to default to male salaries, career paths and lifespans.

Ellevest is designed around the female investor and the differences that she will experience in her life. The company innovated around an unmet need and has captured a significant portion of the market’s attention.

Value in inspiring women

There is value in innovating around what influences and inspires women. It underscores how important it is that brands, and the agencies that create work for them, recognise this value and the potential it represents.

A company that has paid attention and reaped the rewards is First for Women. The company recognised that the risk profile for women was different from men and so it built its business around how women perceive risk, not the other way around.

This manifested in their communication most recently in the 2017 ‘Always Read, Just in Case’ campaign.

We often think about leaving 15 minutes early in case there’s traffic. We may even pack two bags for a trip, just in case it’s rainy and cold, and we research things before we do them. Truth is, we just like to be prepared for any possible situation. It makes us feel secure, and confident that we can do anything because we’ve prepared for it. Like, having someone we can call if our child isn’t feeling well at 3 am in the morning, or if we need a lawyer to look over a new contract. Or want someone to wait with us if our car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. That’s why when you insure with First for Women, we cover all these things and more. So that you’re always ready. 

– First For Women

Building brand communications and campaigns

In our white paper we analyse the market, why there is a need for more businesses to apply this highly tailored approach to their work, and examine the value in innovating for, and communicating to, the woman of today.

We have also developed five clear steps that provide clarity on building brand communications and campaigns that are both conducive to diversity and inclusive of women:

Step 1: Stop reinforcing gender-based social constructs and stereotypes.

Step 2: Be a social challenger.

Step 3: Create new narratives.

Step 4: Innovate for women.

Step 5: Be the voice that starts progressive conversations.


DOWNLOAD | Whitepaper examining the Female Equation |