Are Women the New Men?

Euro RSCG Study Looks at Gender Difference in Marketing to Millennials

By Published on .

Rose Cameron
Rose Cameron
Euro RSCG Worldwide has released the results of its latest global study looking at the millennial generation through the prism of gender. The study, entitled "Gender Shift: Are Women the New Men?," surveyed 3,000 respondents across China, France, India, the U.K. and the U.S.

Here are Five Things You Should Know About Gender and Millennials in the USA:

  1. Greta Garbo, they're not
    These pioneers of social media have a strong need for face-to-face companionship and enduring love. For both men and women, their greatest fear -- over sickness, poverty and homelessness -- was "being alone" (men 42%; women 62%).
  2. Looking beyond the job for sense of success
    Millennial women take their equality with men for granted and have difficulty even imagining a time when females were denied entry to most schools and occupations. However, they are keenly aware of the double duty women pull; not so much "having it all" as "doing it all." Six in 10 millennial females point to life-work balance or work atmosphere as the most important factors in choosing a job; only three in 10 say salary is their top concern. However, this doesn't mean they feel it's OK for them to earn less.
  3. Move over, boys
    It's been well under a century since women gained the right to vote, yet there's clear support for the notion that it is women who will lead global change. A majority of women in each market agreed that women will be the leading change agents, and so did sizable minorities of men (43% in the U.S.).
  4. Women seeking a return to chivalry
    Millennial women would never tolerate a return to male domination, but they do show signs of nostalgia for gender distinctions and a time when men were ready to step up to the plate as providers and protectors. When asked whether "men should be the ones to lead and initiate in romance," females were significantly more likely to agree (44%) than disagree (29%). Interestingly, only 33% of U.S. men felt that men should take on the romantic initiative. A clear illustration of the disconnect between what women are expecting and what men feel is expected of them.
  5. Partners, Inc.
    Couples are no longer man and wife. They are full-fledged partners sharing resources and responsibilities as they work toward common goals. In fact, only 15% of women and 30% of millennial men believe a man should take on the majority of the provider role, earning more than his female partner. Increasingly men are being asked to slip in and out of the role of provider according to the woman's needs -- picking up the financial slack when she takes time off for to stay at home with the kids or taking on more domestic responsibilities when she returns to working full-time.

The question we all must face is whether men and women can move forward in a way that is mutually fulfilling now that gender roles and traditions have been turned on their head. Here are some tips that take the learning from our study and apply it to communications.

  • Knock off the man-bashing. Judging from the content of TV commercials and sitcoms, men are a sorry lot. It's a wonder they're able to brush their teeth without the supervision and assistance of their far-more-capable wives. While the bumbling, skill-deficient guy may be good for a laugh, young people want to see demonstrations of male strength and responsibility. Let's show more role models and fewer buffoons.

  • Toss out gender prescriptions. It's hard to imagine who at a U.K. supermarket chain thought it was a good idea to label a line of children's dress-up costumes by gender. But there they were: the pilot, superhero, and soldier costumes labeled "boy" and the princess, beautician, and nurse costumes labeled "Girl." Pinkstinks and other advocacy groups are calling for an end to the "culture of pink" -- which puts girls into a box centered on beauty rather than brains or aptitude -- and challenges the tendency to create separate boys' and girls' versions of even the most basic products (pink world globe, anyone?). Let's listen to them.

  • Reflect the blurring of gender lines. Gender distinctions are no longer set in stone. Professional sports leagues are targeting women. Men are enjoying herbal wraps at their local day spa. It only makes sense to move away from "either/or" to "and." Dolce & Gabbana's Anthology fragrance line, for men and women, includes five scents based on the Tarot, each one intended to reveal a particular side of the wearer's personality: le bateleur (the seducer), l'imp√©ratrice (the star), l'amoureux (the charmer), la roue de la fortune (the player), and la lune (the dreamer). The fragrances are for men and women, with print and TV advertising features well-known models of both sexes.

  • Let women be human. Trashy and trendy brand Diesel shows both young males and females in its latest ad campaign, "Be Stupid." The ads speak to a state of mind that's all about a carefree attitude and enjoying life. The ads stand out, in part, because of their inclusion of women. Sometimes a woman really is "just one of the guys."

  • Don't count out courtliness. Just because we're living in a more egalitarian society doesn't mean women -- and men -- don't value a chivalrous turn. Young males and females appreciate those everyday acts of courtesy that create a connection between two strangers -- extending a hand to someone who has fallen, offering a seat on the bus, doing some small act that reminds us of our shared humanity and of what really matters in our frantically paced world. Chivas, maker of premium Scotch whiskey, has created a campaign under the tagline, "Here's to Chivalry." And our Dos Equis' "The Most Interesting Man in the World" campaign speaks to the point that refinement and the social graces are part of what makes a man a "real man." Both are reminders that gallantry and valor are not the sole province of Jacob and Edward from the "Twilight" series.

  • Acknowledge the new couples' paradigm. Speak to the new reality of male/female household partnerships by spotlighting the couple as successful brand or company -- depicting how the two work together to manage the day-to-day workload (home, kids, jobs), keep the venture (family) moving forward, and increase profits (family happiness/satisfaction). Rather than depicting a dominant/subordinate or capable/incapable scenario, show how each person's strengths combine to create a stronger whole.

Download the study here.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rose Cameron is a strategic planner who has spent her career keeping a close eye on "what's next" for marketers. She currently serves as chief strategy officer at Euro RSCG, Chicago.

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