Creating An Inclusive Marketing Playbook Pertaining To Tim
Sujatha V Kumar, Head of Marketing for India and South Asia, Visa, 0
For centuries now, gender inequity has been a hot button topic across all strata of global society. Deep rooted patriarchy has negatively influenced community perception to create misinformed, inaccurate and stereotypical roles for women. This unfortunate misperception worsened with the industrial revolution, conditioning businesses to often hinge their marketing methods on sexist ideas of what women need, want or value from life. The results are the usual, relentless and prejudiced advertising that perpetuated more inappropriate typecasting for female consumers and women at large. Remember the vintage advertisements that glorified a woman’s joy in washing clothes or scrubbing vessels? It was only in the last two decades that the idea of combating presumptuous sexism in marketing actually caught up, when businesses started to improve representation across the panel of decision makers and diversity, equity & inclusion became a flourishing dialogue across industries.
But despite widespread criticism and increasing acceptance of diverse communities, biases continue to plague marketing methods even today. Simply put, businesses have taken major strides in addressing pre-conditioned sexism in marketing. But more needs to be done. Cutting to the chase, here are three ways for brands to rewrite their marketing playbook and end pre-conditioned gender bias in their advertising efforts –
Fix how your Brand sees Women ‘Not how Women see Themselves
In recent times, brands have embraced ‘feminism’ and ‘women empowerment’ as thriving concepts to show how women can use their products and services to ‘take charge of their concerns’ and ‘fix their lives’. As inspiring as this sound, it’s actually deeply problematic. This promotional tactic, famously termed as ‘fempowerment’, is essentially a repackaging of the idea of ‘purposeled marketing’. Unfortunately, this is a rather misleading tactic that primarily cares more about closing deals with female audiences, rather than helping them create actual progress.
Brands must understand that asking women to hinge on ‘grit and resolve’ to fix their lives is everything that’s wrong with the system. All it does is put the onus of change on women while allowing the system to carry on as is. A brand can avoid this by ensuring that the product or service organically fits in the journey of female audiences, without painting a picture of unrealistic standards to force revenue inspired behavioral change. Make your brand a true patron in their journey you don’t have to alter the course.
Despite today’s predominantly male led business landscape, organizations must invest greater efforts in reshaping the idea of masculinity to create more space for femininity; causally driving greater inclusion for all sexes. This can happen by marketers encouraging their companies to end ‘butch’ or ‘macho’ economics that treats employees only as inputs. Build an inclusive workplace culture and display it to set strong benchmarks across the world, because how a business treats its employees often plays an integral role in the purchase decisions of consumers. A recent study affirms this sentiment global consumers are 4 to 6 times more likely to trust, buy, champion, and protect those companies or brands that lead with a strong purpose in today’s reality. This larger effort to drive greater inclusion across the workplace and the board will allow for more diversity of decision makers. Doing so will automatically open the door for more women leaders to weigh in and lead a company’s marketing strategy one that will go beyond just a male dominated notion of how a business must treat their employees, speak about their products, or sell to their customers.
A brand can avoid this by ensuring that the product or service organically fits in the journey of female audiences, without painting a picture of unrealistic standards to force revenue inspired behavioral change
Choose your Words with Extra Caution & Care
Representation is a serious business. So, understand that your story won’t sell if you don’t choose the right words. For instance, many marketers today tend to describe successful women as ‘empowering’ or someone who ‘knows how to balance life and work effectively’. While intended to be words of praise, brands would be surprised to know how adversely these words can affect their positioning intent. Here’s why –
Ever heard of people asking successful men how they manage to balance their work with familial responsibilities? Hardly. Then why reserve this question for women? It’s not necessary that women ‘have to’ juggle between their job and household to curate a successful career. Brands need to understand and normalize this sentiment to make their content and communications more inclusive. At the end of all double quoted phrases and statements across this piece, the point remains crystal clear brands must talk to women and all consumers in ways that reflect and connect to their real lives, and without fluffy adjectives that cause more harm than do good. As brand authenticity always stems from deep consumer understanding and never from idealistic assumptions. As marketers, let’s normalize it to a point where our marketing playbooks begin to look more colorful, diverse, and inclusive for ages to come.