In March, businesses are stepping up to celebrate Women’s History Month, not to mention International Women’s Day on March 8. Of course, it’s always a good idea to uplift women; savvy brands also understand that women happen to possess incredible purchasing power. As Inc. points out, women drive the majority of consumer purchasing, making buying decisions not only for themselves but for their families, in so doing driving a whopping 70 to 80 percent of all consumer purchasing. Here’s how some brands are responding to Women’s History Month:
According to Adweek, Pinterest is honoring the month by supporting 10 women-owned businesses on its platform. The initiative is part of the company’s Pinterest Elevates program; participants receive not only ad credits but also a personal coach to help boost their brand visibility and better connect with Pinners. As Pinterest global head of inclusion and diversity Nichole Barnes Marshall blogged, “At Pinterest, it’s important that the content on our platform accurately represents and reflects the world we live in. We’re excited to honor these women and the work that they do, bringing them greater awareness and attention this Women’s History Month and beyond.”
Hershey’s, meanwhile, is highlighting the SHE in Hershey: as the candy powerhouse sees it, those three important letters in the middle of the iconic Hershey name deserve to be celebrated, and one way to do so is with limited edition packaging. Perhaps the Hershey site puts it best: “there is no Hershey’s without SHE.” This year, the company’s award-winning #HerSHE campaign, which originated two years ago in Brazil, will brighten seven international markets, from Brazil to Canada, with the Hershey’s milk chocolate bar wrapper celebrating cultural female icons in each country, their accomplishments, and the impact they’ve made. The chocolate company has also brought in a special influencer to help get the word out: actress and comedian Mindy Kaling appears in a special Celebrate SHE ad. As Kaling notes, “Girls rule. Celebrate accordingly.”
London-based jewelry brand Missoma has found a partner with which it can honor the month—and do good. Fifty percent of sales of Missoma’s limited edition Shine On necklace will go to Girls Out Loud, a social enterprise dedicated to raising the aspirations of teen girls in the U.K. Marisa Hordern, CEO and creative director at Missoma, gets why this collaboration is so powerful, explaining, “As a female-led brand with a female founder and CEO, and just over 85 percent of our leadership roles held by women, we [at Missoma] are invested in the female leaders of tomorrow. We really believe an important part of increasing female leadership is mentorship, confidence, and giving girls and women the opportunity to have a voice.”
Here in the U.S., American shoe brand Keds has been honoring women since the company first came on the scene in 1916. Their Champion Sneaker has always been made for men and women; the design remains iconic more than a century later. This year, Keds pledges to donate $25 from every pair of Champions sold on the official Keds e-commerce site to global nonprofit Dress for Success, an enterprise that supports low-income women by providing professional clothing to aid in the job search and interview process.
Online grocery platform Instacart has announced that it’s allocating $1 million to support women-owned food and beverage brands that advertise on the company’s website and app. Instacart has partnered with three women-led brands: gluten- and dairy-free cookie brand Sweet Loren’s; Three Wishes Cereal; and Twrl Milk Tea to expand an initiative that began last year to support Black-owned CPGs. According to Ali Miller, the head of ads product at Instacart, highlighting women entrepreneurs is a no-brainer: about 80 percent of Instacart customers are women. Women also make up 70 percent of Instacart’s shoppers—the folks who collect, purchase, and deliver items ordered by customers. As Miller notes, “Our goal is to continue to identify and amplify more women entrepreneurs and brands with Instacart Ads to help them drive discovery and business growth.”
What can we learn from the example these brands have set? For starters, it’s important to understand that:
- Tone matters. Women’s History Month is about celebration! Hershey’s exemplifies this upbeat tone in their partnership with Kaling, who brings a spirit of lightness and fun to the topic of gender equity. Also celebratory: the bright designs on the Hershey milk chocolate bar wrappers.
- Visuals have power. Missoma has encapsulated its messaging in a beautifully designed piece of jewelry. Every time a customer wears their Shine On necklace, they might think about the themes of Women’s History Month, long after March is over.
- Actions matter. It’s not enough to talk the talk—savvy brands also demonstrate a commitment to equity and lifting women up. Keds’ efforts to support low-income women with sales from their shoes illustrate this principle perfectly.
- Overthinking things can muddy the waters. In short, stay focused on uplifting your audience (see point 1), because getting too clever with purpose-driven advertising may distract from your message. One need look no further than McDonald’s disastrous 2018 International Women’s Day campaign, in which the brand tried to playfully overturn their logo, from an M to a W, on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. The stunt backfired, with critics ridiculing the brand’s purported commitment to women’s success—or anyone’s, for that matter—and calling on McDonald’s to pay its employees a living wage. McDonald’s learned the hard way that in this case, a cute stunt didn’t cut it.
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