Marketing is about knowing the person, not selling the product…What We’ve Been Reading This Week at Brand Genetics

This week we’ve been reading about all-inclusive marketing and a few insights have caught our eye…

Source: Angela Iannarelli

It’s a universally acknowledged truth that FMCG brands are unable to succeed and grow if they don’t connect meaningfully (and consistently) with their consumers. However, as marketers tirelessly strategise and re-evaluate who their target consumers are, what they do and how and when is best to reach them, are they failing to acknowledge a real opportunity?

In the recent WhatWomanWant study carried out by Kantar, research indicated that brands who actively employ gender-balanced marketing are worth £774 billion more than their polarising rivals.

Put simply, brands that narrow their focus when it comes to more inclusive and diverse marketing strategies are missing out on billions of pounds of revenue. Given that 80% of household purchase decisions are made by women, it is difficult to understand why brands fail to acknowledge their ‘real’ target audience.

Brands continue to align themselves with outdated stereotypes, male-skewed imagery, and messaging that fails to acknowledge the notion of female and LGBT empowerment. Society has evolved, but the industry continues to lag in its response, and has not kept pace with the bigger expectations that consumers, particularly younger centennials and millennials, have of brands today.

As such, research conducted by Unilever found that 40% of women, when asked about advertising, said they don’t recognise themselves in the ads they see, prompting their EVP of global marketing, Aline Santos, to voice her belief that “we need to break the inertia” around marketing inequalities.

With the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements now engrained in societal consciousness many companies such as FMCG giant, Unilever, are continuing to augment their commitments to social purpose such as their recent involvement with the Unstereotype Alliance. However, many companies are latching onto social purpose as a platform for brand reinvention which is to say the topic of gender-balance is not going away anytime soon.

With the annual Pride celebrations in full swing and the Women’s World Cup capturing the hearts and minds of a global audience, a whole swathe of marketeers will again try to associate their brand with a higher social cause.

But which brands are making gender-balance marketing a long-term ambition, rather than just a short-term growth lever?

Which brands are getting it right?

Diageo is putting the spotlight on the lack of gender equality in advertising with a short film that aims to air the issues around inclusion and diversity in marketing. Launched ahead of International Women’s Day, their #BalanceForBetter film discusses the role of advertising in shaping culture, the historic misrepresentation of women, and strategies and partnerships to support more progressive gender portrayal in content. A bold move for a brand whose product portfolio has long been associated with preferential marketing strategies

Big brands have aligned themselves with English national football teams, both the men’s and women’s, for many years. But, with consumers now far more engaged with purpose-driven brands, marketing strategies are beginning to reflect this. Procter and Gamble-owned hair care brand Head & Shoulders are for the first time promising “equal footing” for both men and women as part of its partnership with the FA. With the women’s game currently taking centre stage, many are fearful that these initiatives are just an opportunistic marketing ploy. However, Lucozade Sport believe this partnership is built for the long term, as it fits with their overarching brand strategy and core message: ‘Made to Move’.

Source: Adidas

Finally, while the ‘rainbow washing’ approach to Pride marketing has come under fire, a number brands have channelled their efforts in a more meaningful way. Shaving brand Harry’s was praised by the LGBT community for including a transgender man with scars from top surgery in a spot, along with the voiceover, “You can shave to feel like you.” The commercial comes several months after Gillette’s big campaign asking men to push back against toxic masculinity.

The Human Experience (HX) learnings?

As brands continue to blur the lines between product providers and agents for social change, marketing that reflects the beliefs and lifestyle choices of the many, rather than the few, has the potential to propel a brand forward.

Understanding what motivates, inspires and consolidates consumer choices is more important now than ever. Taking a wholly human approach, and focusing on the real human needs, is no longer optional for brands — it’s the imperative.

Simon Hall is a consultant at Brand Genetics, an insight and innovation agency specialising in human-centred insight and innovation. With a background in reinventing big businesses at pace, he has experience in creative problem solving, thought leadership and reframing human insight and has worked in strategy, leadership and change across business sectors.