Brands need to wake up

Published: February 6, 2018 1:25:59 AM

Women’s safety is something that brands need to wake up to. For years, the only possible women’s safety product was pepper spray, but now the market is evolving. New technology and connected products are opening up the market.

In Perspective – Naresh Gupta

Naresh Gupta

Advertising doesn’t just sell; it changes and reinforces behaviour, builds awareness on social issues and makes people seek new solutions. But advertising has also been equally lazy and shallow and for far too long lived with images (or shortcuts) created by men for women. Advertising’s seductive power has been used by brands, in a manner that is incongruent to issues of today. The issue goes beyond women’s safety; it has to do with the portrayal of women. Finance is one category that has always excluded women, who play a limited role in the whole process of money management. Unless when brands want to target women with women-only packages. Or take weddings which are generally showcased as indulgent, large, ostentatious affairs, and rarely with the bride in control of the event.

Women’s safety is something that brands need to wake up to. For years, the only possible women’s safety product was pepper spray, but now the market is evolving. New technology and connected products are opening up the market.

IoT devices and apps make it easy for brands to tap into. Alarms now come integrated into devices. Hotels are trying to create women zones in their premises. The challenge is for conventional products that look at building some kind of safety device and make a show about it. Like the Sonata watches for women are a big challenge to sell. For the kind of market Sonata sells to, tech adoption and making the tech work is not easy.

Many years ago, Ceasefire created a new home safety category; it did so by tapping into a new need; this is what brands need to do today. Not incremental improvement, but completely new thinking.The question of commercial viability will always be there. Brands will ask the question about different appeals’ ability to sell. The answers to that are available in public domain with other brands. Tata Tea is really successful with its appeals that are not of the usual good homemaker. The last decade has seen the highest rise in working women. Women today have greater financial freedom, greater personal freedom and greater control of their own lives. Add to this digital connectivity which has given women a voice. Soaps can’t anymore be sold for flawless skin, shampoo can’t be sold for ‘long hair is beautiful’, jewellery can’t be sold as a parent’s indulgence, finance can’t be a male domain only and women can be bikers. Some of these may be emerging segments, and the old segments still may be very large, but does advertising work when it goes ultra safe? We in advertising need to step out of the echo chamber we live in.

The author is CSO & managing partner, Bang In The Middle

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