What Marketing Strategies Tell Us About Companies and Their Values
How businesses lose female customers by still selling based on old-school selling tactics that consumers have become increasingly aware of
Join other C-Suite leaders who receive my weekly leadership email here.
Customers do not want to be treated like they don’t know anything or don’t have feelings. It’s human nature to desire to be acknowledged, and the fact that some companies still use sexualizing women as a strategy to market products is the perfect example of the assumption that customers are only drawn to sex appeal.
In a time when the fight for women’s rights is more apparent than ever before, especially considering the rise of social media, one would think that companies would take note of that too. Modern society has many strong advocates for female empowerment in the workplace as well as everyday life, and the way companies continue to sexualize women perpetuates the cycle of dehumanizing them (and, in a sense, their customers). So, the more companies continue to treat us as the uninformed and same consumer base as the 90s, the less loyal we will be.
This is because we’ve evolved.
Now more than ever, there are more options to choose from in every industry. This means that when women see companies suppressing and/or sexualizing other women, they won’t have a problem finding another business that offers the same product that does not participate in this outdated marketing strategy.
For example, there is a Mercedes advertisement that markets living the dream at the Nashville car rental center. Sorry Mercedes, but cars are not my dream. It sounds like an advertisement from 1990. Maybe this is the dream of some people, but those of us that are evolving see past the initial claims that materialism can bring us joy. Please stop abusing human weaknesses like sex selling or materialistic dreams.
The question remains: what is the answer for these companies who continuously have success selling products through advertisements that infer materialism and sex?
And the answer is to evolve with us.
Women want more respect and proof that companies understand how we haven’t changed, but society has. The emphasis on empowering women has grown exponentially over the past few generations, and companies automatically become more attractive to customers, especially women, when their leadership and teams have representatives who are women.
Let’s take a step back here. I’m not saying that sex doesn’t sell, because it’s obvious that it does. It’s a strategy that’s worked for years and persists today. However, if we as a society want to continue empowering women and elevate them in the long run, companies should consider giving up that extra money they might make in the short term that directly correlates with dehumanizing women.
We should work together to hold the respect of women higher than the money that is generated from the “sex sells” concept. If a company truly believes in female empowerment and respect, it won’t continue to sell through sex. This represents women as commodities and sex as something that can be bought and sold, while that is far from the case. Showing women as sexualized does not uplift them, and companies who sell through sex are essentially participating in this dehumanization. They are not evolving with the women who make up society today and have strength, intelligence, and self-respect.
We’re wiser as people, and companies need to be wiser in business. Is making the buck worth suppressing the evolution and growth of society? It’s not, and that’s what these companies need to understand. If they don’t evolve with the people who make up society, then they will die and become irrelevant. Keeping up with the times not only means success for their company but success for their fellow humans as well.
Feedback is very important to me, and I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts and insight. Have you or anyone you know every chosen a different product based on a company’s advertisements? Do you still think that the “sex sells” strategy is effective, even today?
Please connect with me on my social accounts @HilaryCorna, contact me on my website, and follow me on LinkedIn (even if we’re already connected). Thank you!