Media and brands haven’t kept up with the evolution of women, according to Kantar’s U.S Monitor survey of Americans’ attitudes, values and motivations.
Kantar found 61% of women felt the way women are portrayed in advertising is completely out of touch with who they really are today, while 78% wished that more companies and brands would stand up for women.
American women are more comfortable with traditionally masculine characteristics than they used to be, according to the research. Sixty-seven percent of American women ages 16 and older say they are in touch with their masculine side, up from 55% in 2014.
Additionally, American women also have a much more confident and assertive attitude than years past, which was reflected in the play and panache of the winning U.S. World Cup team. Seventy-seven percent of women ages 16-21 feel they have what it takes to get what they want in this world, compared to 56% in 2013.
These findings are a real wake-up call to the marketing community, says Ryan McConnell, senior vice president, Kantar, consulting division.
“It’s clear that the ‘Femvertising’ approach that cheers on women with feel-good messages encouraging empowerment, confidence, and self-esteem, while well-intentioned, is failing to connect with the majority of women — especially those in the centennial generation (Gen Z),” McConnell tells Marketing Daily.
“Modern women aren’t looking for lip service about empowerment, they’re wanting real change that delivers them true equality, respect, freedom from harassment, and the power that men assume and they feel they deserve. And many women are simply tired of seeing the same tired tropes and empty clichés that don’t represent them and their needs in the #MeToo era.”
Another factor that is likely driving the disconnect between marketers and modern women is the state of advertising agencies today, he says. As of 2017, only 11% of creative directors at advertising agencies were women.
“So it naturally follows that efforts to represent the real, lived experience of today’s women are falling well short of the mark,” he says. “Perhaps as big of a factor, though, is the continued pressure on advertising agencies to cut costs on consumer research and creative.”
A whopping 74% of centennial women believe advertising directed at them is “completely out of touch” with them and their needs.
“It’s clear that marketers need to go well beyond the common generalizations and stereotypes about centennials and really get to know this rising generation’s evolving wants, needs, and expectations, some of which are fundamentally different from the experiences of millennials, Generation X and baby boomers,” McConnell says.
“Coming of age during a time of renewed feminist energy and activism, centennial women aren’t likely to accept the sexist imagery, pandering messages, or lazy positioning that other generations of women may have shrugged off. Marketers that do the hard work and research to represent centennial women in a more authentic way are making a big investment in their long-term future.”