For the past several months, the “modern woman” has been the center of media focus, from the debate on having it all in the New York Times to Time’s exploration of the balance of power in the workplace to the PBS documentary about inspiring women. And, of course, there’s all the talk about the depiction of young women in HBO’s “Girls.” During election season, social media was flooded with petitions and videos about women’s rights and information about politicians’ stances on women’s health issues. Many women (and men) posted status updates and photos making statements for women’s rights. Teen girls are certainly paying attention — they look up to and aspire to be like their older peers who are at the heart of the current girl power movement.
Until this recent focus, most American teen girls probably didn’t think too much about gender issues. From their perspective, throughout their young lives, they have always had access to female-centric media, there have always been women who wield political power, there have always been TV shows with strong female characters, and they have always had equal access to education… But now, with women’s issues at the fore, teen girls are no longer taking their place in society for granted, nor should marketers. Here’s some advice to navigate this trend:
Don’t ignore the girl power movement. While it might seem easier to sidestep the issues at hand and take the safe road, the fact is that Millennials like to see the companies and brands they support supporting the movements that matter to them. Brands will get extra credit for showing they also care about women’s issues. And if you’re worried about stepping into controversy, remember that there are a variety of women’s issues that range from education to health care to equality — find one that fits with your brand and your target audience.
Feminists can be feminine. While teen girls aren’t necessarily adopting the title of “feminist,” they do reflect several of its principles, such as being girly and strong at the same time. Let’s just say there’s a reason that edgy florals are in this spring. The current version of girl power doesn’t mean that she can’t wear pink and still be powerful, so marketers should remember teen girls still have a feminine side to appeal to.
It’s not girls vs. guys. Don’t worry that getting on board with the girl power trend will alienate your guy customers. Many teen guys are supportive of women’s issues — after all, they have mothers and girl friends. They’re also taking a cue from an increasing number celebrity guys, including Daniel Craig and Ian Somerhalder, who are leading the way by actively speaking out for women’s rights.
By Melanie Shreffler
Melanie Shreffler is a freelance writer and consultant on media, marketing, technology, and youth culture.
Courtesy of MediaPost