According to a survey published by Mediaprism in November 2012 for the Laboratoire de l’égalité (equality laboratory), 56% of women and 34% of men feel they come into contact with sexist behaviour on a daily basis. (1) How can we explain this persistence of gender stereotypes? Who can be held responsible? What measures should be taken to fight against sexism? How can we make both the public and brands aware of the issues caused by stereotypes?
The media world receives sexism accusations
The majority of participants in this study believe the media are particularly responsible for the persistence of stereotypes. In fact 67% of them are in favour of a watchdog committee who would be responsible for ensuring that television ads do not reflect gender stereotypes. Nearly 8 out of 10 participants also believe that both public and private television should join the fight against stereotypes.
Created in 1979 in the United States, the Happy Meal menu soon found its audience. Its success is partly due to the famous little toy, originally purchased separately and then included in the menu. From basic gifts such as Frisbees or balls, the toys have become more intricate and their quality has improved. McDonald’s now even offer Disney licensed toys. But children’s enthusiasm for the Happy Meal is also down to McDonald’s’ collaborations with recent movie releases. From “Star Trek » to « Star Wars » to « Despicable Me, » McDonald’s has become an essential communication tool to the film world.
However, it is the « gendered » characteristics of these famous toys which have really built up the reputation of the Happy Meal. There’s no need to ask parents around the world to know that the question asked by Mcdonalds staff; “For a Boy or a Girl?” is notorious.
The Happy Meal as a champion for gender stereotypes
Given as gifts, the toys symbolize affection and an intent to please. They also provide a lot of fun for children. But behind this playful front lies a darker aspect to the toys, linked to socialisation. « (…)As both a cultural instrument and a social learning aid, the toy is a key factor in socialisation. This is without doubt the most established, yet most hidden role of the Happy Meal… This is because the toy both triggers and reflects urban communication in the media and in children’s education. It makes that child a product of the times and outlines successive roles that the child will be expected to take on throughout the different stages of life, » writes sociologist Sandrine Vincent.
What if the brand “Sandro” was called “Sandra”, would it have been possible for it offer a range of products for men? I’m not convinced. What look would have had men on a brand called Sandra? It is obvious that a brand called Sandra can only be proposed to women …
Realistically; if the logo of Sandro was fuchsia pink, could the brand have successfully assert itself on the market for men’s fashion? It is rare to see brands so-called « masculine » daring adventure with Pink. Eden Park built a pink bow at the heart of its visual identity: but with a bold and original pink that does not impede assumed manhood embodied by the rugby and its famous black eye, an essential attribute of the brand. But would sales have taken off if the logo was completely full of pink?
If Sandro was called Sandra and the brand Jules decided to create a collection of clothes for women, would it have needed to be called Juliet? Probably not. The client stores Joseph will probably never ask if the brand is for men, before turning to them. However, it would be interesting to turn the shop front of a Chloe store and to put some men’s clothing in. What would happen?
Indeed, brands are gendered and marketers must handle the issue of gender with great caution.
Interview with Marti Barletta, one of the pioneers of gender marketing and author of the book Marketing to Women: How to Understand, Reach, and Increase Your Share of the World’s Largest Market Segment, 2nd Edition (2006). She also launched The TrendSight, a consulting group aimed at helping companies market to women.
There isn’t much coverage for marketing to women in French speaking countries, why would you think this is?
It has not been adopted by major corporations in the proportion that the economic opportunity represents. For example, my book is available in 19 languages but none of them are the major European languages. I was curious about that and was told that the language of business in Europe is English, which is why they’re reading my book in English and it has not been translated. I am not aware of what is going on in France but I do know about a few books on the topic. However, the fact that there has been more published on marketing to women in the US than in France does not mean that there has really been that much more commitment to it.
At the end of 2009, Apple announced that it was launching the iPad in the United States and the rest of the world. In 2010, Samsung entered this promising market with its Galaxy Tab, Sony followed in 2011 with the Sony Tablet. The tablet extends the possibilities for surfing, online shopping and web searches.
Four years after the launch of the first tablet, the French, in particular, adopted this innovation with a penetration rate of 10%, about 3 million French households. (1) Both men and women have been tempted by this innovative medium. In fact, the distribution of the iPad is homogeneous across men and women since 2 million women are equipped with a tablet, the same rate as for men. (2)
According to Gartner, U.S. Consulting and Research Company in the field of advanced technology, the growth of tablet sales should be exponential in the coming years. Between 2012 and 2017, PC sales are expected to decline by 20.4% in the world to reach 271.612 million units, while tablet sales will reach nearly 468 million units. (3)
Siobhan Freegard Co-Founder of Netmums
25/09/2012 – Paris
Hi Siobhan, could you tell us a little bit about Netmums?
Founded in 2000 Netmums is the UK’s largest women’s website. Twice the size of any other parenting site, Netmums is the only one with more than a million unique users each week.
The site hosts over 150 local websites, 1,500 bloggers and 500 national meet-up groups for mums, making it the UK’s top place for connecting parents. And Netmums is the also only parenting site to provide round the clock care. Each year over three and a half million parents are supported by Netmums specially trained teams of parenting experts, including staff from Relate, Women’s Aid and the Family Rights Group. The site also provides one-to-one support for more than 30,000 of the
UK’s most vulnerable mums each year