According to a new report from Creative Artists Agency’s Intelligence Group, young Americans are defining themselves less and less by which gender they are.
After polling a diverse group of 900 Americans aged 14-34, the Intelligence group found that a whopping 62% felt that people no longer need to conform to traditional gender roles that have long dictated how men and women function in society.
The shift in how these young consumers perceive gender is a seismic one for the advertising and retail industries to consider, since many advertisements, and in some cases the products themselves, are made with either men or women specifically in mind. Just think of all the pickup truck commercials that only feature men, or Bic’s ludicrous pen made “just for her.”
Jamie Gutfreund, chief strategy officer at The Intelligence Group, said that in the age of big data, brands will need to sharply tailor their messages to specific consumers based on personality traits and values, rather than marketing to a wide swath of men or women who all like and care about the same things.
“People are not numbers; they have complicated personal positioning and brands cannot assume that someone is a type in a way that they used to,” Gutfreund said. “A guy could be a killer at work, but also want to dress like a dandy.”
Indeed, more than two-thirds of the men who took the Intelligence Group’s survey said they felt men were portrayed poorly in the advertising they saw, and 36% said marketers don’t understand today’s man at all.
One place the ads seem to miss the mark is in their depictions of fatherhood, which often gets overlooked in commercials that portray child-rearing as a exclusively a woman’s duty. In fact, two-thirds of men polled felt that household duties should be split evenly between men and women, and a staggering 76% per cent said they’d rather be the best father than the best employee.
Since 40% of Americans aged 18-34 are already parents, Gutfreund said that speaking to the thoughtful father demographic would be extremely important for brands moving forward. In order to reach them, she said brands would need to show fathers as real, three-dimensional people, instead of bozos who are too incompetent to cook breakfast.
“I’m not saying you come out with strategies like ‘family man beer,’ but men are not unisex. They’re multi-dimensional,” Gutfreund said. “They can be bros, but they’re dads, too.”
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