What Brands Should Know About Gender Inclusion and the Road to Neutrality

Matt Hay
March 2020

What Brands Should Know About Gender Inclusion and the Road to Neutrality

The fight for gender equity and against gender bias has been ramping up in recent years. Brands are being evaluated by Gen Z on how they are supporting the movement. With 77% of Gen Z reported to rank brands that promote gender equity higher than those that are silent [1], marketers must prove their commitment to the issue.

Gen Z isn’t motivated by an equality statement on a company’s website. Rather, they’re asking for visible gender inclusion in the brand’s public communication and marketing.

In this month’s whitepaper, we explore the topic of gender inclusion and what it means for brands as they look to market to teens and young adults.

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Inclusive YouTube Content Performs Better

In the TV and film industry, there have been calls for more inclusive representation both in front of and behind the camera. Think with Google recently released a new study with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, showing that brand YouTube videos achieved 30% more views when the characters were mostly women or the gender spectrum was balanced [2]. 

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Representation Requires Inclusion

Harry’s Shave Company quietly slipped some gender inclusivity into its 2019 campaign “Shave, or Don’t” with a trans man shown shaving in the mirror alongside cis men (men assigned male at birth). If the viewer didn’t already know of the transition journey for trans men, the model’s top surgery scars are easy to miss. There’s no fanfare around this storyline, no rainbow flags draped in the background – this is the intersection of where inclusion is done for benefit of the audience, not to boost the company’s social activism perception.

Calvin Klein’s 2020 “DEAL WITH IT” campaign is another example of under-the-radar gender inclusion as the brand announced Hunter Schafer as one of their newest #MyCalvins models. Schafer grew popular with her role on the hit show Euphoria, where she was one of 12 trans women on cable TV in 2019, according to GLAAD’s Where We Are on TV report

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The Switch Towards Gender Neutrality

The beauty and personal care industries have had some of the largest adjustments towards marketing to a wider gender neutral audience. The Ordinary, a skin care brand, uses medical-looking packaging for a simple, unisex look that can appeal to all. The Ordinary doesn’t even use models in its marketing, instead leaning on its own employees to share the story of being passionate about your own skin.

In June 2019, Bic released a Made for YOU razor line marketed as “designed for anyone who wants to use it.” The brand reported 67% of 18-24 year-olds wanting gender neutral grooming products in their consumer feedback surveys, which spurred the idea of a new line with body positive-focused advertising.

[1] Facebook IQ

[2] Fuse notes that gender is not limited to just the binary definitions, but the reports we reference use the binary in their articles.

For more information about gender neutral marketing and how your brand can reach Gen Z, please contact us.