September 26, 2022


by William Turner in News
What You’ll Learn in This Episode:
  • The current state of the female consumer
  • How brands can effectively reach women and avoid ‘pinkwashing’
  • How social media has helped women take over brand marketing
  • The importance of authentic representation of women in media
In the late 1990s, the phrase ‘marketing to women’ became part of the corporate lexicon. Seemingly overnight, financial services brands, among others were waking up to the power of the female consumer. Some brands responded with a ‘shrink it and pink it’ strategy – just changing the size, color, or packaging of products; others created bespoke products & services designed for women by women; and others changed how they marketed to women, in terms of how they featured women in their advertising and spoke to them in terms of email or other communications. Over the ensuing two decades, many brands put forward real game-changing campaigns, but not without a fair share of tone-deaf ones as well. In this month’s episode, Red Havas’ Linda Descano, CFA® is joined by Aliza Freud, Founder and CEO of SheSpeaks Inc., and Jeannine Shao Collins, President of SeeHer, to explore the state of marketing to women and offer actionable tactics for how brands can build more authentic, meaningful connections with women across different touch points, whether advertising, marketing or PR-driven. THE CURRENT STATE OF THE FEMALE CONSUMER Aliza kicks off the conversation with a look into the current state of the female consumer and how women are responding to brands, a topic covered in a recent survey conducted by SheSpeaks. “Women are feeling burnt out,” says Aliza. “The instability caused by many outside factors in the last few years have interrupted the lives of women and impacted the way they are feeling, both mentally and physically.” Aliza goes on to explain how this has changed the expectations women have for brands trying to reach them: “Women have hit a point where they have too many important things to focus on and don’t have enough time or energy to cut through the marketing of it all; they are looking for brands to talk to them authentically about how their product will make their lives better and easier.” “When women are seeking out brands, they want to understand a company’s purpose, values, and what they stand for,” says Jeannine. “Standing up for what you believe in as a company can be a driving force for growth for your business. We’ve also seen that when a company has high gender equality scores, women are more likely to make purchases and have a better perception of its brand reputation.” MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT WITHOUT “PINKWASHING” Next, our guests discuss some insights from their personal experiences for creating meaningful engagement with women and avoiding ‘pinkwashing.’ “Women want a benefit-driven conversation,” says Aliza. “You also need to be highly aware of the macro-environment, such as the political and economic landscape, because women are very much plugged into how these issues affect themselves and those they care about.” “We believe that if you can see her, you can be her,” says Jeannine. “Through that intersectional lens, we deal with the seven tenants of inclusivity, which include race, gender, race, and ethnicity, body type, age, and ability. We make sure that we are talking to all women, not just one type of woman. In our research, we found that ads perform better and lead to better sales when women are portrayed as counter-stereotypes, doing things that are unexpected and being represented in their full lives.” REPRESENTATION IN FRONT OF AND BEHIND THE CAMERA Our guests then discuss the creative shift occurring in brand marketing as more women begin to have a seat at the table. “The advent of social media content creators has democratized brand marketing for women,” says Aliza. “With 86% of social media influencers being women, they are dominating in terms of building followings and creating engaging content. When you compare a piece of content from a female influencer with a brand-developed asset, the influencer content is winning every time, largely due to the benefit-driven messaging it provides.” Jeannine talks about SeeHer’s series of “#WriteHerRight” guides, which were developed to help writers, show runners, media executives, and actors to understand how to portray women authentically. The series also includes guides specifically centered around portraying Black female characters and Latina characters, with more in the works. “It’s important that women are represented in all aspects, whether it’s front of or behind the camera,” adds Jeannine. “There is a lot of unconscious gender bias that people don’t realize they’re putting forward when there are no women present in the room.” ADVICE FOR MARKETING TO WOMEN INTO 2023 To close out the conversation, both of our guests provide one recommendation for brand marketers and communicators to keep in mind when marketing to women as they plan programs and campaigns for 2023. “In this environment, gender equality is not something to take for granted,” says Jeannine. “Equip yourself with the tools and resources needed to combat your unconscious gender biases so you can better understand what consumers want and how you can produce creative that resonates with them.” “It’s important to recognize that women are not a monolith,” says Aliza. “You need to be mindful that not every woman believes or thinks the same way. Be aware of this as you come up with your campaigns, messaging, and the products and services you’re offering to the women’s market.” Give “Red Sky Fuel for Thought” a listen, and subscribe to the show on iTunes,