Mumbrella360: ‘The revolution is coming because we’re getting stuck’ – The power of the female economy

The female economy is becoming more and more powerful, so why do brands often underestimate the female consumer?

Speaking on a panel at Mumbrella360 last week moderated by Society’s founder and CEO Dena Vassallo, Jamila Rizvi, author and deputy managing director at Future Women, and Alexandra Sloane, senior director of marketing – enterprise and business at Optus, dissected the question in a search for the answer.

Despite the fact that female participation in the workforce has grown steadily over the last 30 years, and Australia leads the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in terms of the number of women graduating with higher degrees, Rizvi said the growth is starting to get stubborn.

“We’re in a really interesting spot where we’ve seen this acceleration of female income and female economic power, but it looks like we might bet getting a little stuck,” she said.

And despite a mammoth 12 months for the female economy – from Barbie, to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, to Taylor Swift’s record breaking world tour – there are still a number of challenges that must be addressed, and the revolution is not yet here.

“I think the revolution is coming because we’re getting stuck. Women are responding in a really big way,” Rizvi continued.

“There is a sense that women are still facing really significant challenges – for example, the stubborn gender pay gap in this country. But, I know there’s something still rumbling under the surface, especially in the past couple of months when we’ve been talking about men’s violence against women in a way that we haven’t before.”

(L-R): Jamila Rizvi, Alexandra Sloane, Dena Vassallo

Sloane anecdotally reflected on one of the biggest things she, and many other women, struggle with in the way brands interact with female consumers – Mother’s Day messaging.

“The way some messaging puts on a pedestal this idea of the superwomen who does it all – she cooks, she cleans, she’s the driver, she works – nobody wants that! Nobody wants to be overburdened with unpaid labour. And I struggle with that,” she said.

“Appreciation is nice, but I think we’ve got to move forward into a more fair representation of what it is to be a mum in this day and age.”

Vassallo agreed: “It feels like they glorify the pressure that we’re under.”

However, the past few years have seen some brands give consumers the chance to opt-out of Mother’s Day messaging – a move welcomed by the panelists.

“They realised Mother’s Day isn’t easy for everyone, and allowed people to opt-out, which I thought was another fantastic quiet way to acknowledge all women,” Vassallo continued.

Sloane said it is this momentum that must continue to better engage the female consumer and boost the female economy.

“Brands need to recognise their role in culture, and how to represent more progressive portrayals of their products. And that’s our responsibility in this industry and marketers, agency-folk, PR, is to think about our role in culture too,” she explained.

“The first line of defense is making sure the people in the room are diverse. An idea shouldn’t get to a marketing team that doesn’t have any women in it, and that still happens.”

To watch this session recording and more from Mumbrella360, head to Mumbrella Pro.


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