Thursday, September 1, 2016

How to Get Ahead of the Trends With Your Marketing Message

When traditional marketing doesn't reflect reality, a business opportunity awaits.

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Back in 2004, Dove Challenged traditional marketing techniques when they launched their Campaign for Real Beauty. These ads, which featured models of different sizes, ages, and ethnic backgrounds, were initially shocking to some. Today, we can look back and see how this message changed how beauty products are sold to women. And hopefully in some ways, positively changed how some women think of themselves.

Now, they're doing it again.

Care makes us stronger. So says market research done by a team at Dove Men+Care in collaboration with Dr. Michael Kimmel, one of the world's leading experts on men and masculinity. In their ad released on Father's Day, "My Father, My Hero," Dove Men+Care took a calculated risk and put their message out there, hoping it would resonate with both men and women. It worked.

The quirky and sweet montage of homemade videos of dads with their children portrays the kind of man that many of us know at home but rarely see in ads.

Our ideology about what it meant to be a man and a father had started to change, but marketing didn't yet reflect that. Today, many men know that you can actively co-parent, change diapers, and fix your daughter's hair while still feeling masculine. That disconnect was precisely the kind of opportunity the team at Dove was looking for when launching their line of men's products.

A disconnect like this can be a gold mine of opportunity for companies looking to differentiate themselves and reach new customers in a crowded market. The essential question to ask when creating an ad campaign or re-branding your company is, "what trends are happening in real life that you don't see in the market?" Finding that niche can be the path to reaching people and building more authentic relationships with your customers before your competition does.

Dr. Kimmel got involved with Dove Men+Care when they asked him to review market research the company had done and to help interpret the data trends. According to Dr. Kimmel, the numbers supported a trend that he and his colleagues were seeing in their own research. That trend was men's roles at work and home have changed, and traditional marketing didn't reflect that. Dove Men+Care's research found that 9 out of 10 men see their caring side as a sign of strength. Yet only 7% of men today can relate to depictions of masculinity they see in media.

Based on Dove Men+Care's experience and the changing imagery in marketing to men, what can other businesses learn?

New business should aggressively look forward to where the trends are going, instead of clinging tenaciously to how things have been done in the past.

Most business starters inherently get the importance of watching trends, but it can be difficult to discern which are the most important and relevant to your business.

The things we want such as challenging opportunities and flexibility when we need it are the things all employees want- regardless of gender or age.

Paid parental leave for all employees is just one example of a benefit that can help differentiate one company from another among top talent and help build loyalty among the employees already there.

The private sector plays an important role in changing gender equality in the US, because business plays so many roles in each of our lives. Improving gender equality in business and around the world is not only the right thing to do, it benefits everyone involved - not just women. According to Dr. Kimmel's TedTalk, companies, countries, and families are happier, healthier, and more productive when there is greater gender equality present.

And equality has a tremendous economic benefit around the world. According to research done by the McKinsey Global Institute in September 2015, advancing women's equality can add $12 trillion to global growth.

In his work with Dove Men+Care, Dr. Kimmel was focused on the role of men as parents, but he hinted at another important disconnect that might be worth exploring in your marketing efforts. That is around the changing nature of cross-gender friendships. It used to be rare that a man and woman would have a close, personal, platonic friendship - but that's different today. "Out of that equality of colleagueship will come friendships that your grandmother could have never imagined."

How can your business harness this trend and reach your target audience in a new way?

Take Action for the Growth of Your Business, Today!

Image Credit: Getty Images

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