Are brands behind the times when it comes to gender stereotypes in ads?

Are brands behind the times when it comes to gender stereotypes in ads?

Though 76 percent of female and 88 percent of male marketers believe they avoid gender stereotypes when creating advertising, according to a global survey detailed in a Kantar report, researchers noted that ad targeting is still extremely skewed within specific product categories like baby products, laundry products and household cleaners — where females make up 98 percent of the targeted audience.

Why you should care

According to Kantar’s report “Getting Gender Right” (free with registration), which was released Monday, there is a disconnect between marketers and consumers when it comes to gender stereotyping in advertising. Kantar’s 2018 data shows that a majority of female and male marketers believe they’re avoiding stereotypes when creating advertising, but a 2015 report from Kantar discovered 76 percent of female consumers and 71 percent of male consumers believe the way men and women are portrayed in advertising is “completely out of touch.”

Stereotypical images of a woman in kitchen and a man in a business suit

Ad targeting is also heavily skewed toward female audiences when it comes to ads for baby products, laundry and household cleaning products. Kantar’s Link Ad Testing model, which analyzed 20,000 link ad tests from 9,560 brands in 43 different countries, discovered 98 percent of baby, laundry and household cleaner ads are targeted at women, along with 71 percent of food advertising and 60 percent of retail ads.

Meanwhile, Kantar’s “Connected Life” data from 2017 through 2018 (analyzing a total of 70,000 people in 56 countries) found that most domestic buying decisions are made jointly by men and women.

“While it is true that more women than men are primary grocery shoppers, it is strange that almost 100 percent of the people we talk to about baby products, laundry products and household cleaners are women,” reports Kantar.

The data did find that most ads that run on TV (67%) — both digital (72%) and static (62%) — are targeted at both genders, but when ads are targeted at a specific gender, it’s usually women being targeted. Based on Kantar’s findings, there is a significant opportunity for brands that open up their ad targeting to a more gender-balanced audience versus continuing to promote products like diapers and laundry detergent to a mostly female crowd.

More on Kantar’s ‘Getting Gender Right’ report

  • Kantar’s findings revealed 92 percent of male marketers and 88 percent of female marketers believe ads feature “positive and attainable” female role models, but the Kantar’s Gender Equality Measure data shows that 45 percent of consumers believe women in ads are portrayed in an inappropriate way — while only 40 percent think highly of the women portrayed in ads.
  • The disconnect between how marketers and consumers see men in ads involves an even wider gap, with 79 percent of female marketers and 93 percent of male marketers believing that men in ads represent “positive and attainable” male role models, while 44 percent of consumers believe males are portrayed inappropriately and only 35 percent think highly of the men they see in ads.
  • Kantar’s report also included data from a BrandZ study that found that brands that are more male-skewed are valued, on average, $9 billion less than brands are gender-balanced.