February 11, 2016 § 1 Comment
We couldn’t believe it when Barbie stopped by to talk to us about her new curves. Was it Beyonce or Barbie? Oh well, her new dolls now strut four new body types and, even more skin tones and hairstyles. It seems her bosses at Mattel have been putting Barbie through a transformation in the past two years to make her more like real girls.
There has been a long-time criticism of dolls that do not portray accurate body images. Since her introduction in 1959, the Barbie doll has been at a center of debate because of her unattainable female image, seen as harmful to shaping children’s sense of ideal. Adult women still agonize over their shape and weight.
Barbie says Mattel has responded to create images of women that give girls and boys a better reflection of diversity and body types. She wants to move into a new era of body acceptance that is represented by not one but 33 different versions of Barbie – four different body types, 22 eye colors, seven different skin tones, different face shapes, and 24 hair styles. The original 11.5″ Barbie represents a woman whose figure measurements were 38-18-34.
The new debut is not solely a matter of cultural relevance. The once trendy Barbie powerhouse brand has suffered in recent years as girls have turned to other toys and electronic options. The brand has experienced double-digit declines in recent years. Yet, some 92% of American girls age 3-12 have owned a Barbie.
Children seem to understand and appreciate that the new Barbie dolls now look more like them with different types of hair and body shapes and feet that will fit into running shoes as well as runway shoes.
Mattel has been working to shape Barbie into realistic body standards including feet that are not perpetually shaped to fit into high heels.
Barbie told us the new shapes will be available for sale March 1, with some 33 new versions of the fashionista available.
Barbie says she hopes the new dolls will be a better reflection of what true beauty is. But Barbie says that even her new look is not without criticism. Some say that the doll is still focused only on appearance, fashion and stereotypical interests of women.
As I talked to Barbie, I thought about my own childhood. I never owned a Barbie doll but I did have lots of dolls, beautiful ones that did represent more normal shapes. Was my mother ahead of her time? I don’t know but I do know that self-esteem is shaped by more than a doll.
February 11, 2016 § Leave a comment
Disney seemed to think that only boys want action figures so our new crush Rey was left out of the toy line-up for the newest Star Wars movie. Guess those toy makers forgot who buys toys for their children. The dominant toy shopper is female. A social media campaign brought the omission to light, so now you can buy Rey toys.
We asked Girls To The Moon founder Courtenay Rogers her take on the Star Wars Rey and here’s what she offered.
“I’m extremely late to the Star Wars bandwagon. Like, over 30 years late.
My brother saw all of the movies when we were kids but I had no interest in watching movies so I missed the excitement the first time around, though we had every toy imaginable in our house. I never really got around to watching the famous movies until I realized my daughter wanted to see them so we decided to spend some quality time understanding what the fuss was all about.
The “original” three movies were very intriguing to watch, especially from an 8-year old’s perspective. She couldn’t stop talking about how old fashioned they were and even at 37, the difference between cinematography in the late 1970’s and 1980’s amazed me. The plots were interesting and the stories were compelling, but I didn’t end up a huge Star Wars fan. But then we saw the 7th film, The Force Awakens.
This movie is exceptional and my absolute favorite part is the addition of Rey, who is basically the main character (in my opinion) and made such an impression on me that I want to watch all of the movies again. Rey is a badass. Plain and simple. She is strong, intelligent, driven, powerful and independent. She is everything I strive to be and everything I want my daughter to strive for as she grows up. Yet, when merchandise started appearing to promote the movie and even after it was released, Rey was nowhere to be found.
A set of Hasbro figurines that were created to coincide with the release of the film didn’t include the heroine and fans took to social media to express their outrage. The #WheresRey hashtag on Twitter took off, targeted at figurines that includes Chewbacca, Finn and Kylo Ren but excludes Rey, the female protagonist of the film played by Daisy Ridley. The film’s director JJ Abrams even joined the conversation saying that this was “preposterous and wrong” while addressing the Television Critic’s Association in early January.
Forbes reports that “the assumption underlying each of these promotional choices discounts women’s buying power. Earlier this year, the MPAA released its annual breakdown of movie audience demographics, revealing that women constituted 52% of moviegoers in 2014. This trend, the study further explains, has prevailed since 2010. And though the highest-grossing films in the United States and Canada skewed 59 percent male with Guardians of the Galaxy, the second-place position went to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, whose audience was 57 percent female. And the movie was fronted by a woman. Since Star Wars — also featuring a female lead — is expected to break all kinds of records in a year that’s seen more than a few flops, it’s a fair guess that women will be a large part of the audience.” Read the full article here.
I’m officially a Star Wars convert solely because of Rey and I hope to see many more characters like this one on the big screen. She’s a wonderful role model for young girls and older girls alike, and she deserves the same amount of fanfare as the rest of the characters in the film. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, get some friends together and make a girl’s night out of it. You will leave feeling like you can save the universe, all by yourself.”
February 11, 2016 § 2 Comments
Here’s Dawn Boulanger’s take on how the Super Bowl scored with women.
The Super Bowl 50 match-up between the Broncos and Panthers drew an estimated 111.9 million viewers – the second- highest rated Super Bowl in history. According to Nielsen, 47% of viewers in 2015 were women. If we assume the same viewing patterns this year, 53 million of those watching on Sunday were women – that’s more women than will watch the Oscars, Grammys and Emmys combined!
Women drive the consumer market – they influence the majority of purchases across all categories and they do the majority of social media sharing. Despite their influence, advertisers have historically used the big game to market to men. Past years’ commercial critiques have included the lack of targeting of women and the use of sexist stereotypes to sell products.
There seemed to be some creative change in this year’s Super Bowl spots with advertisers getting smarter about who’s watching, who’s sharing and with an actual attempt at connecting with these powerful female consumers.
Here are a few of the spots that have received positive comments for their representation of women, the use of empowerment in their messaging and their understanding of the target audience.
- Budweiser Ad, Simply Put – Budweiser uses Helen Mirren to send a strong warning against drinking and driving.
- Mini, Defy Labels – Mini Cooper uses powerful celebrities such as Serena Williams to challenge the use of labels and stereotypes.
- Hyundai, Ryanville – with the use of Ryan Reynolds clones and women drivers, Hyundai clearly targeted the female audience.
- No More, Domestic Violence PSA – a powerful message to help raise awareness about domestic violence.
Super Bowl 51 is a long way away – maybe by then we will have figured out Mountain Dews’ PuppyMonkeyBaby commercial!
February 10, 2016 § 1 Comment
Definitions of gender are becoming more blurred in today’s society as two-thirds of young adults say their generation is pushing the boundaries of what feminism and masculinity look like.
In the past year, the Oxford Dictionary adopted the gender-neutral prefix Mx. and Seattle embraced gender-neutral public bathrooms, while Pantone singled out gender-neutral colors in its latest color-trend report. Transgender narratives are both in real life (Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox) and onscreen (Transparent, The Danish Girl). Culture has begun to shift away from binary notions of gender.
Jaden Smith, son of Will Smith, is breaking down gender norms by sporting skirts for Louis Vuitton’s Spring womenswear collection. Louis Vuitton’s press release says Jaden “represents a generation that has assimilated the codes of true freedom; wearing a skirt comes as naturally to him as it would to a woman.”
Miley Cyrus has called herself gender fluid. She says “I didn’t want to be a boy. I kind of wanted to be nothing. I don’t relate to what people would say defines a girl or a boy, and I think that’s what I had to understand: Being a girl isn’t what I hate, it’s the box that I get put into.” Eddie Redmayne introduces us anew to the gender identification struggle of artist Einar Wegener in the movie The Danish Girl.
The 2013 Cassandra Gender report found that 60% of people between the ages of 14 and 34 think gender lines are blurred and nearly two-thirds of the group say their generation is pushing the boundaries of what feminism and masculinity look like. The survey reveals that “gender is less of a definer of identity today than it was for prior generations. Rather than adhering to traditional gender roles, young people are interpreting what gender means to them personally.”
A January 2015 poll by media company Fusion found that among Americans aged 18–34, 50% believe gender exists on a spectrum, while just 46% believe there are only two genders.
What does it mean for marketers? Marketers can choose to acknowledge it and show this generation that they get it in their language and offerings.
Gender neutral, inclusive language has become more correct. People who do not identify as male or female prefer the pronoun “they,” rather than “he” or “she.” Rather than saying congressman, you would refer to a legislator. The “common man” becomes the average person. A policeman is now a police officer.
Unisex is a more prolific offering. Vivienne Westwood created a unisex collection for autumn/winter 2015–2016 as did Alexander Blanc, whose male and female models even swapped clothes on the runway during Cape Town Fashion Week in 2014. Harrods and Target groups toys by theme rather than male or female. Models like Elliott Sailors, Rain Dove, and Erika Linder are carrying out runway careers as menswear models.
Facebook now has 58 different gender descriptions including agender, androgyne, gender fluid, trans female, trans male, trans person, cisgender, and two-spirit . Some brands like Louis Vuitton are embracing transgender and androgynous models for their campaigns.
Even names are becoming less gender specific. Popular gender-neutral names in 2015 included Carson, Amari, Karter, Sawyer, River, Rory, and Phoenix.
January 1, 2016 § 1 Comment
I have worked with retailers for most of my career and sharp retailers know that every single foot of store space needs to work hard. Spend some time in your store observing customers and what they are doing. And then try some tried and true store layout tips gleaned from retail consultants Kizer & Bender that might help get your stores optimized for the best selling environment.
- Allow for a “decompression zone”. When consumers enter a store, 90% will typically turn to the right. Shoppers typically don’t notice merchandising displays within 15 feet of the entrance. The first thing that customers are noticing is your general decor, your brand statement about your store – walls, flooring, accent colors, fixtures, pleasing smells and comfortable aisle widths. Your checkout should never be in the right front of your store.
- Check your Vista. According to Kizer and Bender, stand inside your front door just beyond the Decompression Zone (about 5’ inside the store) and spread your arms out at shoulder height with your index fingers extended. The space you see is called the Vista – the area that builds a shopper’s first impression of your store. The space inside the Vista needs to be clean, uncluttered and full of not-to-be-missed product. This is where you should place your Speed Bump displays. Speed Bumps are just past the decompression zone and are the place for those attractive items. Speed bumps can be special fixturing or small tables for display.
- Color is important. Neutral colors are used in 80% of all stores, with strong accent colors used sparingly. The wrong colors can change the whole shopping experience.
- Choose a story layout that fits your business. There are three types of store layouts– the Grid Layout typically used in supermarkets and big box stores, the Loop (Racetrack) layout that creates a clearly defined path through the store, and the Free Flow Layout, typically used by specialty retailers, where they find new merchandise displays at every turn. Make sure you are always leading a customer somewhere. Most stores use a circular path to get the customer to walk through the store and back to the front. But keep “merchandising outposts” in their path so they can discover items as they walk through the store.
- The Power Wall. Walk inside the front door, stop just past your decompression zone and turn right. That’s your Power Wall, the place to display important departments, new and seasonal items, high demand and high-profit items.
- Where’s the Bananas? Every store has a high volume necessity item like bananas or motor oil that customers always look for. Put them in a back place along the shopping loop that encourages your shopper to shop the entire store.
- Store Fixturing is a tool. Keep in mind the purpose of the fixture. You aren’t supposed to see the fixture. You should see the merchandise.
- Check out should be placed at a natural stopping point in the shopping experience or path you have created. Have a counter big enough for shoppers to place their bags and/or personal belongings. Last chance for encouraging impulse or “last minute” items.
And don’t forget technology in today’s world. The technology can include digital screens, iPads to aid shopping and online helps. Does your store have WiFi? It should because shoppers are using their smartphones in-store.