Today, consumers want to connect with brands on a deeper level. As the FleishmanHillard Authenticity Gap findings show, they don’t just want to buy a product or service, they want to connect with brands that support issues that are important to them. Knowing this, brands are joining conversations surrounding key holidays and celebrations more than ever before.
With International Women’s Day right around the corner, brands may be thinking about taking a stance on gender equality. We know that 70-80% of women drive all consumer purchasing decisions, so jumping in on the conversation can be a great brand building opportunity to connect with a key audience – but proceed with caution.
Here’s what you need to consider before engaging:
Be Authentic or Go Home.
Before getting caught up in a big gender equality idea, make sure your organization has an authentic reason to join the conversation. Consumers are smart and can quickly see when brands are being sincere, and when they are just trying to cash-in. Companies that engage authentically on issues that are aligned with their business objectives can enhance their financial performance, strengthen their connections to consumers and make themselves more attractive to top talent.
All brands could support gender equality. However, where and how they show up needs to align with their brand voice and should be an ongoing part of their identity – not just on International Women’s Day. If you’re a fun-for-you ice cream brand who is known for women’s advocacy, you may celebrate with a new flavor produced by women and a playful execution; whereas, a clothing brand with a strong commitment to empowering women might host interview workshops complete with new outfits. Both increase awareness of the issue and support the cause in a meaningful way but do so differently.
Support Don’t Exploit.
Commercialization does not equal support. Brands can have commercial products that showcase their support, but that support must be backed by action – that will drive meaningful change.
At the end of the day, people want to spend their hard-earned dollars with brands that support causes close to their hearts, so the upside of engagement in holidays and celebrations is significant. But, tread intentionally to avoid pitfalls and long-term damage.
Kelsey Rhoney is a member of FleishmanHillard’s Chicago Brand Marketing practice, where she utilizes her expertise in the food and beverage sector to support clients. You can reach her here.