by BIG Idea Facilitator, Yvonne DiVita
For us, at Lipsticking, the concept of a confident, independent, and ambitious woman is a natural. There is little new about it. Women have shown their independence, their confidence, and their rising ambitions quite clearly from the dawn of civilization.
Interestingly, society often spends too much time marketing to independent, confident, and ambitious women who are both married and mothers. It's the ideal in the many places of the world, here on Earth.
Not all women are married. Not all women are mothers. It's a shame we as a society spend so much time and money throwing ads at women of a certain position in life.
I was reading an article at Marketing Charts about this very topic. It turned my brain into a tangled mess. I will share some of it here, with you, and we can chat about it. About the discrepancies in marketing's view of women. All women, of course, but for today, women who are unmarried, and feel left out of the game.
Let me start by saying I fully embrace the sign in my new home office that sits behind me - it reads, "The Institute for Wayward Young Women: Making Bad Girls Better". No doubt the creators of said sign did not realize how we ladies of the 21st century would embrace our waywardness and welcome the "making bad girls better" in the sense of how bad can we get, to prove we don't need to be "made" better?
So, women of a certain age. The study cited in the article I read today are generally over 40. Since as a society we give women today a pass to be single and on their own, without a man, or a significant other, through their thirties. Much of that was driven, you understand, by life cycle. People didn't live as long then, as they do now. Therefore, women's reproductive years were shorter. Past generations felt women over 19 were already "old maids" not merely for the prestige of being married. The worry about becoming an old maid also brought with it the concern that children were best born by younger women.
Lipsticking has a fondness for baby boomer women; married, single, on their own, with young kids at home still, empty nesters, we don't care. We merely relate better to baby boomer women.
Marketing in general ignores both baby boomer women and single women. For us, baby boomer women in our second act, we often see marketing as a focus on what's wrong with us: achy joints, wrinkles, menopause, financial concerns should our 'husband' die, and many other negative issues. These are important topics but not what most of us are about, nor how we actually feel about ourselves.
And, the same is true of women who have either never married or were married but are now single, and are over 40 - that dreaded "I'm really getting old now" age.
Here are some thoughts from the study:
...women in the US are almost as likely to be single as married, citing Census Data. Yet almost half (48%) of single women ages 30-45 surveyed for the report think that single women are “non-existent” in advertising, and a similar proportion (44%) don’t feel that they are fairly represented.
How true do we think this is? Not the sense that marketing ignores these women, but that the women we see in ads and on TV in commercials, are always 'married' or with a significant other? I have never truly thought of it but a quick moment of contemplating what I've seen on TV lately, I have to agree. Single women are being ignored.
Which leads me to this from the study:
... conducted among 500 women over the age of 40, Fancy found that three-quarters (76%) feel that brands play a negative role in the perception of women over 40, with 8 in 10 believing that brands perpetuate gender inequality.
We are not here to talk about gender inequality today, but... oooohhhh... what truth do we see here? A big truth.
The article goes on to say, "One thing brands could do? Show women in roles other than being a mother, according to 9 in 10 mothers over the age of 40." Wayward women, these! See below -
Respondents to the Hill Holiday survey were most likely to associate the following six attributes with single, never-married women ages 30-45:
- Independent (77%);
- Confident (54%);
- Responsible (49%);
- Ambitious (43%);
- Strong-minded (42%); and
- Adventurous (32%).
You can download the study here - you have to give up your name and email address, but once you do, the study opens right up. None of that waiting for an email to send you a link.
I'll end by saying it's good to see somebody taking notice of how marketing ignores a large part of its demographic. Single women especially get left out, as my BFF Toby Bloomberg of Diva Foodies, can tell you. But, we baby boomers are not treated well, either.
It's precisely because of that that I work with baby boomer women, and also why I report on items such as All the Single Ladies - because it proves the point I've been making for more than ten years: your marketing dollars can go so much farther, if you just take time to recognize women for the powerful group of spenders they are and stop putting them in boxes that confine both your thoughts and theirs.
And, BTW, we like being wayward, and a little bit bad - get used to it. No one is going to make us better. We're better enough already!
Thoughts? Did you sign up for Big Idea News yet? Yes, it's still in development, but it's coming!