Mumbai: Its that time of the year when brands across categories serenade the fairer sex with the customary promotional offers and endless freebies. And if that isn’t enough, there are campaigns launched with themes raking up every possible ‘women’s issues’ one can think of. Yes, it’s the 8th of March and with yet another International Women’s Day (IWD) upon us, the annual trend of a marketing blitzkrieg continues unabated. The occasion today has become as big as a festival, and one of the prime events in a brand’s marketing calendar.
Brands and marketers using special days to connect with their TG is, of course, as old as advertising lore. And with women comprising nearly 50 per cent of a target consumer group, while also being principal stakeholders when it comes to critical purchases and decision-making in a household, brands, naturally, are keen to serve their cause. Advertising, however, is just one aspect of a brand. True commitment means investment of time, money as well as resources.
So just, how much are brands actually investing on Women’s Day?
"Lifestyle and fashion/apparel brands are one of the biggest spenders, spending in crores leading to the day," notes Tonic Worldwide national strategy director Anjali Malthankar. “On the other hand, you have high impact influencers, collaborations, contests and giveaways - these activities are spent in lakhs.” So, it's either a performance campaign to drive sales or an impact campaign to participate with a point of view in the Women's Day conversation.
"We anticipate the advertising budgets for Women’s Day to be similar to last year and not significantly higher,” say Lyxel&Flamingo co-founder, CEO Dev Batra and creative director - copy Nishant Singh. “As a practice, Women’s Day narratives tend to be longer and thus the majority of the brands will end up advertising only on digital formats only and not that much on television,” add the duo.
This is also a time when brands try to up the engagement quotient by running contests and giveaways. Some even indulge in banter with other brands on social media as a way to garner share of voice or grab attention.
"There has been a shift in thinking by many brands whose core target audience are women," believes White Rivers Media head of client partnerships Darrell Fernandes. “While most are still trying to communicate offerings, for some brands it’s an opportunity to create an emotional connect with women. It also allows us to deliver a far more engaging message which is not possible otherwise in the product campaigns.”
"What a brand should not do is force fit their business agenda in something that doesn’t land well on the brand philosophy or product," Fernandes asserts.
This thought is echoed by Jayshree Sundar, the advertising veteran and author of "Don’t forget 2004" - a book on crafting a blockbuster marketing strategy for a political campaign. “The consumer today is able to see through shallow messaging that makes him/her buy something by offering freebies. They know when it's a gimmick,” she says, adding that, “I think the way for brands to make a significant mark is by using the day to announce something more long-term that you're doing for women, or how your brand supports women- What’s being done regarding women's issues or to empower them, to make equality happen- things like that- if brands can dig a little deeper and it's not a message just for that day.”
Sundar cites examples of brands like Dove and Tanishq which have been doing amazing campaigns around relevant themes for women, not only around Women’s Day but throughout the year. “If such a brand does something on Women’s Day, It will be accepted with open hands because that's what they have been doing consistently. That's the key to long-term returns,” she remarks.
While several leading brands have released video content focusing on women-related themes apart from recognising their contribution- while directly or subtly integrating their products in it, a very small percentage of brands practice such focused curated content as a consistent feature.
"The number of women-focused D2C brands who have grown astronomically in the last two years or so, could have taken the lead and become flag bearers of such campaigns but the expected action hasn’t yet taken place with IWD already upon us," affirm Dev Batra and Nishant Singh. “However, we still witness a lot of brands doing tactical interventions - like a post or rolling out an offer closer to International Women’s Day. Sadly, they continue to simply acknowledge the day without doing much beyond."
According to Mankind Pharma general manager - sales and marketing Joy Chatterjee, generating campaigns that are relevant in the day-to-day lifestyle of consumers helps the brand to connect and be more relevant to them. “For us, our target audience is not only women but rather every member of the household. We believe in connecting to households while spreading awareness, intense market penetration and a strong social media presence,” he says.
The company has released a Women’s Day campaign for its brand Prega News #SheCanCarryBoth. The campaign video depicts a relatable conversation between four women at different stages of life talking about balancing motherhood and a demanding career. “Our Women’s Day campaign 2022 showcases how society at large assumes that it's difficult for women to nurture motherhood and be working professionals at the same time.”
He further adds, “Our budget for the entire campaign has been kept minimal, maintaining our focus on the content that was being produced and its amplification.”
The brand has onboarded four celebrity influencers and 15 macro-influencers who are mothers themselves and who share their stories to help the brand reach a wider audience. For better reach and mass society penetration the campaign has been launched in several regional languages.
For many of the women-centric brands, days like women’s day are not targeted towards amplifying their sales but rather in generating brand awareness. “Our actual ROI through the campaign will be more aware and sensitised to the masses. Being category leaders we believe that it's our responsibility to educate the masses and talk about our consumer’s issues,” says Chatterjee.
With social media being the new normal, most brands also try to maximise use of that space by collaborating with Instagram or YouTube influencers and content creators to touch base with their customers and also create more customer base in the time to come. Marketers believe these campaigns and initiatives undertaken on special occasions helps garner more attention from the prospective audience, resulting in increased sales. "These initiatives help create awareness. Therefore, it is better and more beneficial than an advertisement in the long run,” says The Haelli founder Neha Sahu. “The unique content curated for the customers increases customer engagement and is shared further with family and friends with similar interests, helping us expand our peripherals.”
Fynd, a tech-first omnichannel platform, has crafted a campaign called #LeadLikeHer that aims to shed a spotlight on the leaders behind the brands on the platform. “Through this campaign, we wanted our audience to have a sneak-peek into the stories of the women who create the products that make them look fabulous.” says the Fynd co-founder Farooq. “The impact of a campaign such as #LeadLikeHer is beyond mere ROI and profitability. The power & authenticity of women in leadership roles is something Fynd truly believes in. Through this campaign, our aim is to start a conversation on the disproportionate male to female ratio in leadership roles. And act as a catalyst to push for gender equality and close the gap.”
To mark the occasion of Women’s Day, Candere by Kalyan Jewellers has come out with an inclusive campaign for its latest ‘Aadya’ collection, featuring diverse women, regardless of their age, size or appearance. The film is a shoutout against ageism and body shaming, signifying that every woman should celebrate and embrace themselves. The brand is also taking initiatives to celebrate real women on platforms such as Linkedin. “We are also getting in touch with platforms and are celebrating the women who have dared to keep their heads high and took charge of their own journey reaching for the stars,” says founder and CEO of the jewel-tech brand Rupesh Jain.
The brand believes its ‘Return on Investment’ is through its marketing standpoint. “When the communication of our campaign reaches our TG and when our audience connects with our Vision and Mission.” He adds, “Our brand vision is first to create understanding and relatability for our audience, engage them with our brand, and then create communication with them, which keeps them connected with our brand for the long run.”
So how can brands ensure a deeper connect with their TG on Women’s Day?
"First of all, don’t miss the trees for the woods," says Tonic Worldwide’s Anjali Malthankar. “If you are a brand celebrating her only for a day to ride on a marketing opportunity and ignoring her issues for the rest of the year, then this can damage a long-term relationship with her. Stay focused and sincere.”
“I think slowly the brand world is opening up to campaigns which raise awareness and solutions about real issues like property ownership rights or breaking the bias in hiring etc and recognition campaigns, celebrating real women heroes- and not limited to doing gimmicky promotions only,” she adds.
Today women have become more conscious and they want brands that think like them. Especially younger millennials and GenZ respond to brands that are more humane, more empathetic and those who take a stand on pressing social issues. While sweepstakes and offers may come and go, and depending on the category, it may even increase sales, but scratching the surface runs the risk of either being forgotten or not noticed at all or worse - being called out.
Campaigns that are curated to start a genuine conversation and not just to jump on the marketing bandwagon give the consumer a deeper understanding of what the brand is and what it stands for. It all boils down to whether the brand can really walk the talk or not, believe the marketers.