Brands across the UK are still not realising the full potential of their brand value by failing to correctly reflect, represent and champion women in their marketing outputs and business inputs.
Previous research conducted by Kantar has shown gender-balanced brands in the UK are worth, on average, £1 billion more than male-skewed brands. A recent study of over 200+ brands from this year’s UK BrandZ database has shown that over three quarters of brands in the UK still show a gender imbalance, and that there could be up to an 8% opportunity for growth based on the link between the share of brand value that over-performers realise from achieving gender balance.
Using our own research into brands leading the way in progressive marketing, and working with world leaders in the space, Kantar has identified five key businesses pillars where over-performers in progressive marketing exceed. We have designed a series of prompts to support inward reflection on your own brands and businesses:
1. Business Strategy & Organisation
This pillar is about defining and owning a clear vision for your business and category that is beyond the purely commercial. It's about ensuring that inclusivity and diversity are at the centre of your recruitment, training and HR policies, and you are not just paying lip service.
Questions to ask:
- Do we set the right ambition for our organisation when it comes to women as consumers and employees?
- Do we ensure our business decision-making reflects women’s needs and integrates their voices?
- Do we activate our employees to think about the difference between genders and what they demand from our business?
- Do we prepare, educate and train our teams to better serve the needs of our female consumers?
2. Brand, Product & Innovation
This pillar is about creating a clear purpose for your brand through understanding what is, and what could be, its role in the cultural discourses around progressive marketing. Reflecting on your products/services/offers and ensuring they are designed in a way that is aligned with the brand purpose to create societal good.
Questions to ask:
- Do we understand the gender dynamics in our category?
- Do we understand how our brand creates value in the lives of our female (and male) customers?
- Do we create a brand identity that does not alienate or marginalize any women?
- Do we ensure our product development process considers the perspectives of women?
This pillar is about telling the story of your brand in a way that is authentic and true to all of your consumers, by reflecting on your marketing to ensure you are not reinforcing gender stereotypes in any way through marginalising, mis-representing or mis-characterising people.
Questions to ask:
- Do we represent women in a progressive, non-traditional way?
- Do we challenge stereotypes and biases towards women in our campaigns?
- Do we ensure our creative development process is embedded with a woman’s perspective?
- Do we characterise women in ways that are authentic and about their individuality?
4. Customer Experience
This pillar is about understanding the role that gender plays in how customers engage with and experience our brands, and designing touchpoints that reflect these nuances in a way that is inclusive of all.
Questions to ask:
- Do we understand the role that gender plays in how women engage with our category?
- Do we profile how women’s needs differ when it comes to their experience of our brand?
- Do we map out which touchpoints influence women’s choice of channel, product or service?
- Do we solve the barriers women are experiencing on the path to purchase?
5. Measurement & Partnership
This pillar is about implementing methodological ways to review, improve, assess and optimise our performance in each of the different pillars. It ensures that anyone who is a contributor to our brand or business, internal and external, is on the same journey as we are.
- Do we ensure our data and research processes are free of unconscious gender bias?
- Do we define the right metrics and evaluate success when it comes to engaging women as consumers & employees?
- Do we make our voice heard and have an impact as part of industry movements or initiatives around gender inclusivity?
- Do we work with our agencies and partners to demand the same values from them we expect of ourselves?
Progressive marketing is created by the right conditions, within and without. All of our research has suggested that in order to drive meaningful change, businesses have to start the journey by reflecting inwardly and understanding who they are now and where they want to be. Without a business that is set up to support success in these areas with the correct inputs (people, training, recruitment), any outputs (product, communications, customer experience) are often seen to deliver something that lacks authenticity and credibility to consumers.
Our ‘What Women Want?’ study, which explored some of these issues in more detail, shows the work is not over for addressing feelings of inequality. By engaging with women meaningfully and understanding their priorities, brands will not only contribute to their commercial success, but to society as a whole. Making tokenistic efforts that don’t feel authentic, will mean brands missing out on a very significant business opportunity, and they simply won’t be part of the new society women are building for themselves.
We have created a full worksheet, which includes all of the framework pillars as well as scoring metrics to evaluate your own brands.