However, many brands have failed to establish a genuine emotional connection with their female customers, not bothering to dig into the zeitgeist of the era as well as the inner worlds of contemporary women. Their lackluster portrayal of a “perfect woman” surrounded by lavish scenes is no more than a patriarchal projection, which only translates into an empty symbol constructed of shiny golden objects. In recent years, some Chinese e-commerce platforms are even trying to brand International Women’s Day as “Goddesses' Day” or “Queens' Day”, camouflaging it as an “ode to women” under rose-tinted glasses. But at its core, the goal is just to convince female consumers to buy into this idealized image driven by male appreciation and squander money. In fact, this type of marketing approach which projects a typical “male gaze” might very well backfire at a time when feminism is on the rise.
So what do brands do to empathize with female consumers of the new era? This year’s International Women’s Day, MADJOR put together three guiding principles that can never go wrong.
The "male gaze" is a term often mentioned in recent gender equality conversations, implying the act of depicting women from a masculine perspective, which eventually turns into a constraint imposed on women. This can be reflected in women’s concern for height and weight, and the concern for appearance and clothing. In this context, women seem to have become an object to be watched and consumed.
These days, the booming social media has given women the opportunity to make their voices heard. Chinese social media platforms such as WeChat, Weibo, Xiaohongshu (RED), Bilibili, and Douyin (TikTok) have not only largely taken over traditional media, but also expose the public to diverse viewpoints including those from women. As a result, more Chinese women are saying no to the mainstream beauty standard, refusing to be defined by society and calling for self-expression. Truth is, women's beauty comes in diverse forms, often very personal and multidimensional, rather than being just "submissive, sexy, light-skinned, young, and thin" - all coveted traits of a Chinese beauty. Maybe that's why the sexy lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret is falling out of fashion in China, while Neiwai, a domestic underwear brand that boldly claims “No body Is Nobody", has gained more consumer favor by advocating for women's self-identity and body inclusivity.
For a long time, women had existed as an appendage to someone. Wife, daughter, mother… She plays many roles, only not herself. But women of modern time refuse to settle for a dependent life. Rather, they aspire to achieve self-worth on their own terms. That’s why a significant shift in brands’ messaging from "winning with beauty " to "winning with inner beauty" is required to echo women’s inner revolution and celebrate a step forward towards mental independence.
The extent to which a brand's marketing campaign can resonate with female consumers depends on whether it connects a certain dot in their lives, whether it sends them right down memory lane searching and matching their experiences and emotions. Eventually they will see on the campaign their own reflections and develop an emotional bond with the brand.
In a business world so sales-driven, the idea of "brand warmth" has evolved into a powerful brand differentiator. Frequent product releases are only the attention grabber to attract female consumers, but it takes brand warmth to build a lasting buying drive, by taking up social responsibilities and projecting human emotions. Let’s put sales aside for a moment. Think about the social values of your campaign and the role your brand is playing in society. Is it actually helping the female community make a difference? A successful female marketing campaign must be one that genuinely voices for women.
Women today want no more of that "women hating other women" drama. Mutual appreciation and mutual help are the trends. So brands might want to look at the approach of bringing together the entire female community, by highlighting the support coming from other fellow women, and bonding a sisterhood among the female audience. More importantly, this approach extends and reinforces the social values of the campaign and gives the brand a new dynamic, ensuring lasting trust and brand identification among female consumers.
-Generally speaking, female consumers today tend to take on a more diverse, inclusive, independent and self-empowered perspective when making buying decisions. Brands need to dig a bit deeper into gender equality issues with sharp eyes, and spread the right message that can be identified by female consumers to achieve conversion.