Female-focused brands. Are they about female empowerment or actually about disguised examples of telling women they’re still not capable of doing something? The story of each brand is undoubtedly different. Thus female-focused brands that produce maternity goods, beauty products, or female sports apparel are beyond question. At the same time, some companies that arrive at gender-neutral markets raise some concerns in 2021.
For example, there are programming courses or driving classes meant solely for women. Suppose the female-only taxi services are required to ensure better safety for female passengers (Uber reported nearly 6,000 sexual assault cases in the two years, what can we say about independent cab drivers?). In that case, female-only driving classes may be treated as a way to diminish women’s ability to be successful in driving just like men.
What’s even more impressive is when gender-neutral entertainment is brought to a female club with stereotypical attributes. Playing games at various online casinos, for instance, is more common among men but not to that extent as some may think. 25% of British men participate in gambling activities at least once a month versus 17% of women. However, you might find casinos that are made specifically for women on the web. What’s the intent? Let’s figure it out.
Reasons Behind the Emergence of Female-Focused Brands
There were days when you could see your only friend in the brand like that, while the whole other world was frowning at your desire to play shooters, go on a hunt, or play football. Female-only programming courses and similar we mentioned were started as a way to make women trust in their own abilities. Also, they triggered other advertising approaches to emerge, which were still tailored mainly to the male gaze.
Some advertising still makes us cringe. Brands (hopefully the minority now) view males as the ones who’ll bring the money. This is fair for the past: less than 40% of the female population in Europe was employed in the 60s. In the 2010s, this number is gradually reaching 60%. The number of working men, on the contrary, gradually deteriorated. This means that more and more brands target females as primary or equally essential customers.
In third-world countries, there are still many women empowerment brands due to severe gender inequality compared to Europe and Northern America and human rights activists’ attempts to make a difference. The protective role of these brands is still relevant there, but does it still work for European countries?
Female-Focused Brands Alleged Purpose vs. Subconscious Models
As we told above, the alleged purpose of most brands is to show women what they are capable of. Capable of driving a car, coding, succeeding in sports, and “staying a woman” at the same time. Male-only groups that historically formed in STEM fields and other initially masculine activities like driving a car or brewing beer tend to make fun of women when they join the group.
So that’s why brands seem to protect women from demotivating experiences, while women face mockery, mistrust in their abilities, or benevolent sexism from their male counterparts in the group. However, the attempt to protect women who dare to enter the male-dominated field may carry subconscious stereotypes.
Some people consider brands that focus on the female population as evidence that women need some special treatment, so that’s why these brands emerge. Some of the brands nurture this with ad slogans like “None of the academies taught you coding? Join our female-only course, where we’ll take your hand and walk you through the whole process.”
Awkward calls to actions like these only feed the bigotry that most women can’t code or drive the car as well as an average male individual. The age-old approach to lure women with the pink color of the casino website or fruit beer does not seem appealing to many women.
Do We Need Female-Focused Brands in the Niches That are not Solely Female Today?
Elaborating on the point we started in the previous part; we could say that it also depends on the social environment. For example, in the European Union, the gender equality index comprises 67.9, exceeding 85 in Northern European countries like Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands. On the other hand, it barely reaches 50 in most African and some Middle Eastern countries.
In the countries where gender equality is far from being achieved, such brands are a breath of fresh air that wakes women up from a long hibernation during which their rights and abilities were disregarded.
In countries that have already taken many steps toward equality, female-focused brands in the non-gender-specific niches become obsolete. What is next here? Integration of the two focuses and developing a single approach for the whole population. Surely, only in the fields where gender doesn’t matter at all. Here, gender might become a less influential factor in brand positioning, while individual traits of every human will come out as the major one.