Barbie Talks Her New Look and What It Means for Girls

February 11, 2016 § 1 Comment

We couldn’t believe it when Barbie stopped by to talk to us about her new curves.  Was it Beyonce29barbie-web-master675 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.

Rey from Star Wars is Our New Girl Crush

February 11, 2016 § Leave a comment

da821a3413019200569cccb82e2f84db88211185Disney 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.”

 

47% of Super Bowl Viewers Are Women

February 11, 2016 § 2 Comments

dame-helen-mirren-640673Here’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.

  1. Budweiser Ad, Simply Put – Budweiser uses Helen Mirren to send a strong warning against drinking and driving.
  1. Mini, Defy Labels – Mini Cooper uses powerful celebrities such as Serena Williams to challenge the use of labels and stereotypes.
  1. Hyundai, Ryanville – with the use of Ryan Reynolds clones and women drivers, Hyundai clearly targeted the female audience.
  1. 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!

 

Marketing to Women: Gender Lines Are Being Blurred

February 10, 2016 § 1 Comment

UnknownDefinitions 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.

 

Social Media Advertising in 2016: Don’t Be Scared!

January 4, 2016 § Leave a comment

So, the Force has awakened!social_media_freak No, not Star Wars; it’s social media advertising. While we were posting our holiday pictures, social media has moved from a “free” social platform for conversation and awareness to a bona fide advertising medium.

Social media is now a performance-driven marketing channel that delivers highly targeted audiences, new ad formats and a wide variety of measurement tools. On Facebook, desktop ads have 8.1X higher click-through rates and mobile ads have 9.1x higher click-through rates than normal web ads. And Promoted Tweets have shown average engagement rates of 1-3%, much higher than traditional banner ads.

Here’re the facts:

  • According to Pew Research, 65% of all adults use social media.
  • Women still lead men in the use of social media but barely. Since 2014, the differences in usage by gender have been modest. Today, 68% of all women use social media, compared with 62% of all men.
  • Marketing will spend 13.2% of their budgets on social media this year. And of the $137.53 billion global digital ad expenditures in 2014, $16.1 billion was spent on social media, a 45% increase over 2013.

Targeting is key and social media has acknowledged their fierce advantage in geography, specific target audiences and engagement.

Facebook and Instagram are serious contenders for video advertising. Since the two share the same advertising platform, it’s important to look at them together. Oh, and Facebook has been tweaking its news feed algorithm in the past year, favoring videos users are more likely to watch. Facebook reports users view about four billion videos on the social network each day.

Twitter is also making changes that will bode well for advertisers. Twitter is the second-most popular social media platform among marketers with 77% of B2C and 83% of B2B marketers using the network. The new news for Twitter is their testing of displaying tweets based on curation rather than chronological order. Curation could help brand engagement. Twitter is also looking for the video audience and is providing new ad options.

Pinterest added buyable pins last year but is still struggling to make pins into sales conversions. Pinterest seems to be more aspirational than real like Instagram.

So what to do in 2016?

Here are some tips. Make sure you are spending a portion of your advertising dollars in social, testing the effectiveness for your business and honing your messages to your target audiences.

  1. Know your campaign objectives. Are you wanting to increase conversions on your website, promote your social media page or get your content seen by your target audience?
  2. Have relevant content. Use your free social media to beta test relevant social ads. Figure out what is resonating the most with your customers and build social ads around these topics.
  3. Know your customers so you can use the amazing targeting features of social media.
  4. Rotate messaging to mitigate ad fatigue and test content.
  5. Design content for the social media you are using and the engagement you desire. Create a video strategy.
  6. Think mobile. Most social media is consumed on our smartphones so make sure you social media ads are optimized for mobile.

 

Marketing to Women in 2016: Ten Trends

January 4, 2016 § Leave a comment

Marketing to Women

Here are some insights that will help us navigate the New Year of Marketing to Women. They are less crystal ball thoughts and more practical information for the new year.

  1. Social is marketing. Women are embracing new platforms of social media and marketing needs to follow. Instagram is now larger than Twitter with more than 400 million users, with 59% using Instagram daily. Some 55% of online adults use Instagram, composed of 31% women and 24% men. On average, millennial moms have 3.4 social media accounts, versus the 2.6 for moms in general. (Weber Shandwick)
  2. Marketing to Moms means marketing to Millennials. Currently, one-third of millennials have children and that number will continue to grow in 2016. Millennials increase their smartphone usage by 63% after becoming moms, and they spend 35% more time on their mobile device than on their PC or laptop. Those numbers keep growing—a trend we expect to see continue in 2016.  Some 81% of millennial moms researched or purchased items via on their phones while shopping in-store this year. And one in four moms do more than half of their shopping online. (BabyCenter/IAB)
  3. Women expect to shop anywhere, anytime. The online shopping tipping point happened this holiday season proving the importance of omnichannel and smartphone shopping. Retail sales were up 7.9% between Black Friday and Christmas Eve, with brick and mortar sales down while online sales grew 20%. And Amazon seems to be the touchstone. A poll conducted by CNBC this holiday season found that about 49 percent of shoppers say they ‘‘always’’ or ‘‘most of the time’’ browse Amazon when they shop online. Amazon says almost 70 percent of its customers this holiday season shopped via a mobile device and the number of Amazon app shoppers more than doubled in the same period. Amazon set the bar high this year with their same day Prime deliveries. In Seattle, Amazon Santa delivered its final pre-Christmas package at 11:59 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Free shipping seems so yesterday in this last minute world.
  4. Generation Z cannot be ignored. While some are just catching on to Millennials, it seems that Centennials or Generation Z (anyone born after 1995) are a new consumer not to be ignored. Gen Z makes up one-quarter of our country’s population, and by 2020, they will account for 40% of all consumers. Gen Z is exerting a powerful influence on their families’ spending. Indeed, 93% of parents say that their children shape their families’ spending and household purchases. Start studying this generation and see how they fit into your consumer world.
  5. Email is still relevant. The widely reported “death of email” was overblown. Research tells us that emails are hugely relevant for women, but they must be mobile-friendly. Best performing emails need to have a special offer, coupon or deal.
  6. The :15 video is the standard. Life is busy and women don’t have time to watch long videos. Consider how-to and product videos showing how the product is being used. Website videos still have a place as well as a source of buying information.
  7. The reviews are in. Nearly 70 percent of consumers and 82 percent of millennials seek opinions before buying, according to Mintel’s survey of 2,000 U.S. adults. Fifty-six percent of respondents said online reviews from people they don’t know help them decide which products or services to consider, and half said they would pay more for a product with positive online reviews. Women rely on reviews more than men. Top factors influencing women to purchase a product (84%) was a recommendation from family, friends or peers.  On average women research 10 sources of information before buying a product (versus two for men). Brands need to give women an opportunity to learn more about them and give them the tools to try, share and recommend. Monitoring your reviews and providing information to buyers is extremely important. Research has shown that 42 percent of customers who complain via social media expect a response within 60 minutes. In addition, 52 percent expect responses at night and on weekends, even if it is not during the business hours.
  8. Brand values matter. Women expect brands to be more open and transparent about their philosophy and values. Brands can’t just sell warmth and empathy in big splashy media but not deliver when they meet the consumer online or in-store. Women expect brand service and brand delivery to be warm and empathetic.
  9. Marketing to women is not marketing to gender or just showing women in ads. Brands need to consider the various multiple roles of women and focus on her areas of interest – children, health, business, shopping.  
  10. Bring back humanity. In a time of big data, programmatic digital and native experiences, the technology seemed to trump the message. In 2016, it is time for a return to the type of brand relationships that win over hearts and minds. We can no longer “sell”. It’s time for valuable content, engagement, personalized communication, and living experiences.

 

 

Marketing to Women: Eight Tips to Optimize Your Retail Layout

January 1, 2016 § 1 Comment

mobile-shoppingI 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.

  1.  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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

 

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