Brands Need to See Women as Multifaceted People

I’m not a mother, but I’ve heard once you give birth how the world sees you changes overnight. Who you are as an individual blurs behind your new title: Mum.

This attitude is most blatant when it comes to advertising. By and large marketing makes a woman’s social role their consumer identity. Once you have had a child, personal passions, wants, needs, drivers cease to matter — you’re a mother first and a woman second.  

This looks different across segments. Late twenties social media means a discover page of wedding propaganda. If you’re older, comms tells you that you’re one of three things; a grandparent, incontinent, or about to die…

The case for three dimensional targeting

1. Demand

To be seen for who you are is a fundamental human need, so categorising purely according to generic life stages will lead to flattening comms. CPB research into the invisibility of older women as they age clearly demonstrates a desire to be seen beyond demographic.

Q: Thoughts on the representation of older people within advertising:
“Stop showing us as grandparents all the time.” Female, 55+

“[Brands] act like every woman who hits 50 is wetting herself all day long! Or worrying that they actually look their age. And then it seems advertising then moves straight to funeral plans.” Female, 45-54

“[I want brands to] show older people live amazing and fulfilled lives, have amazing hobbies,
are active, modern, engaging and looking forward to the future.” Female, 45-54

women made of leaves and flowers

[1] CPB and Perspectus Global, GB nat rep survey, 2022
[2] Photo by SIMON LEE on Unsplash

2. Resonance

We’re experiencing a continuation of youth: 44% of Britons aged between 65 and 69 consider themselves middle aged. With life stages no longer cut and dry, defining consumers by them poses the risk of falling on deaf ears at best and offending at worst.

3. Distinction

Sadly, talking to consumers beyond simplistic categorisations is often the exception.
Meaning there’s opportunity for brands to punch above their weight, standing out with comms that demonstrates customer understanding.

women made of leaves and flowers

[3] Photo by SIMON LEE on Unsplash

4. Affinity

Ultimately, treating audiences as multifaceted by incorporating interests and using language that speaks to them as people (beyond function and role) will increase brand love.

5. Creative ambition

Today is all about celebrating mums, literally for their sole status of being a Mother.
And for one day, that’s no bad thing.

But if every Mother’s Day brief started with ‘person, who happens to be a mother’, comms would unfailingly honour personal identity as well as highlight social role. Moving forwards, I hope to see more brands say thank you that way.

Written by Olivia Minoprio, Strategist

If you like what you read and want to explore the topic more, check out the links below:
Change the narrative
International Women’s Day ’22