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What Women Want: The Importance of Brand Purpose

Trends and Insight 156 Add to collection

Founding partners at design agency Redshoe Brand Design, Emma Jones and Sam Ellison, share some highlights from M2W in New York

What Women Want: The Importance of Brand Purpose

Founding partners at design agency Redshoe Brand Design, Emma Jones and Sam Ellison, went to M2W in New York earlier this month to find out the latest thinking on marketing to women at the world’s biggest event on the subject – and to take part in a global panel.  For any marketing wanting to engage with women - the most influential consumer group in the world - here are their highlights.

Brands are clearly starting to recognise the importance and potential of engaging with women, hence the flurry of ‘fempowerment’ campaigns last year.  It’s perhaps not surprising when, according to M2W conference-speaker Marti Barletta (author of Marketing To Women), “women control over 20 trillion dollars in worldwide spend, are the ‘currency of success’, the fastest growing economic force in the world and could be a game changer for any brand”.

However, the overall sentiment at the conference was that, although marketing to women is getting better, the speed of change needs to accelerate. It is no longer good enough to include women in brand strategy as a token gesture or a tick on a marketing brief. It’s time for brands to stop making assumptions about women and get serious – but what do they need to do?

Below are three of the main take-outs from the conference to help guide you towards better engagement with women:


1. Find your influencers and advocates

According to Alizia Freud from She Speaks, “There’s a media revolution going on. Women are no longer waiting to watch ads on the TV, they are media savvy and engage when and where they want giving them the power to decide if they want to hear what brands have to say.”

According to research from McCArth Group & Neilsen in 2014, 84% of women don’t trust advertising.  This means that they are now looking instead to friends and social media for recommendations and reviews. And because of this, influencer marketing has exploded with increasing numbers of marketers tapping into the voice of bloggers, vloggers and social media stars to amplify their brands and extend reach. However, finding the right brand advocates, and understanding the ‘rules of engagement’ are both essential elements if campaigns are to be successful. For instance, product endorsements must truly reflect the influencers’ actual experience with it and influencers must disclose their affiliation or connection with the brand.  


One company that is successfully using the power of advocacy is Unilever. It has partnered with ‘She’s The First’, a group of intensely socially conscious college students, to help provide scholarships for young girls in low income countries with their #brightfuture campaign, and in doing so it is building strong awareness and allegiance with their next generation of potential consumers.


2. Relevance and Authenticity are essential ingredients

Relevance is equally as important as authenticity.  One of the main reasons brands fail to engage women is because they persist in selling a list of product features and benefits.  An approach which is no longer an appropriate way of communicating with women – after all she’s empowered and capable of finding this information herself. Today’s female consumer is looking to understand how you can help make her life a little easier or better; she wants to understand why you are relevant to her.  This means brands need to find a deeper connection that tells a story and demonstrates how and why their brand, and only their brand, is the perfect fit for her.    

And if you need further convincing that contextual relevance does drive effectiveness look no further than the #Imagine the possibilities campaign from Barbie, built around the proposition “When a girl plays with Barbie, she imagines everything she can become.” Tina Daniels, Director of Agency business at Google shared how this was not only one of the best performing campaigns on YouTube ever, but responsible for turning around a three year sales decline into 15% growth in just three months. And with Barbie also making their dolls available in three new body types this year, it’s clear there is a genuine desire to increase relevancy to women of the future (and their mums!).

3. The importance of brand purpose:

When a business finds its purpose it can be truly transformative. As Madonna Badger, President of Badger & Winters, explained: “Women in particular are drawn to brands that feel human. It is not only the right choice, but the smart one”.

Badger & Winters’ mission ‘to end objectivity of women in advertising and stop the harm it causes’ allowed them to take a stand and create truly meaningful relationships with women grounded in what they really cared about. This led to a movement well beyond the stunning #WomenNotObjects and #StandUpcampaigns they created.

When companies fully embrace the power of brand purpose, they will find that they are laying a long-term foundation for brand success as female consumers expect brands to have a higher calling, and to make a difference to society. However, brand purpose will not work unless it is authentic and resonates throughout an entire organisation. Brand purpose doesn’t need to be the next big idea or overly differentiated, it just needs to be true! 

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Genres: Storytelling

CPPR, Tue, 31 May 2016 16:07:01 GMT