It is March 8 and women all around the world are celebrating their day. There will be offers, discounts, incentives and, may be, some video commercials celebrating women and talking about women empowerment. But is that all there is to Women’s Day or does it go beyond?
Talking to Moneycontrol, Vinay Kanchan, brand storyteller, innovation catalyst and author of Sportivity, said “There is more to women than being just celebrated on one day. What has happened over the years that it has become an idiotic milestone which all marketers simply latch onto without even understanding the ethos of the day.”
“There is no depth to the narrative. Very few brands do a good job of speaking to women,” he added.
While some car companies are offering all their women customers complimentary service vouchers, discounts on service labour charges, parts and accessories, e-commerce platforms are giving discounts on smartphones. In the aviation space, some companies are having all-women crew.
“A lot of people are being unimaginative in their approach. They are just looking at the day to make it commercial. It is a lot more than that; that is why it seems so hollow to the average consumer.”
Kantar Group, a research, data and insight consulting company in its latest report, found that while globally marketers think they’re getting gender right, more female marketers think the industry is missing a beat.
The report titled Ad Reaction: Getting Gender Right also pointed out that despite progress, gender portrayals in advertising remain stereotyped, with female depictions particularly skewed.
And experts believe that the scenario is no different in India.
Kanchan, however, thinks there’s hope. He said, “The financial sector, for a long time, was thought to be a man’s domain. But Deepika Padukone’s association with Axis Bank is a great example of how things are changing, because it shows the modern successful woman extremely at ease with her finances however large they might be. This, I think, is a step in the right direction.”
He added that this is happening because a lot of women have got into positions of power in the corporate world and they are consciously influencing this.
He brought to notice another company that is walking the same path as Axis Bank. “The Airtel girl has broken convention. Usually, technology was again thought to be very much a man’s domain, but with the Airtel girl, I think what is great is that she is not a celebrity in that sense but they have stuck with her and sort of elevated her to a position of a heroine. This is a technologically advanced domain and a woman is a spokesperson for the brand.”
He believes that the situation is improving as more and more women are getting into the space of high-value products, but there is still lag in the way women are portrayed.
The report also highlighted that gender-skewed brands are losing revenue to more gender-balanced brands.
In reference to Women’s Day, Kanchan said, “Brands who do it well do not go out of their way to make it sound like it’s a special day because for them they are speaking to women every day of the year. They are very much understanding what women concerns are, whereas brands that do not have women as the centerpiece of their strategy will find the need to suddenly offer discounts on that particular day and that seems fake.”
But what strategy should brands adopt to reach out to women especially on Women’s Day?
“If you have to celebrate Women’s Day, you should celebrate closer to your brand ethos,” said Kanchan. He added, “Creating your own Women’s Day is a far better idea.”
But if something has to be done on Women’s Day, then Kanchan suggests it be understated and classy.
“Around 16-20 years ago, there was this women’s local train called Ladies Special and when they got down on Churchgate station, they were handed out a rose by Ponds,” remembered Kanchan. “Unexpected surprise would be my strategy. The impact is be a lot more,” he said.