In recent years, International Women’s Day (March 8) has become a global social and political milestone; around the world, public declarations of feminism rise, citizenship initiatives take place and advertising campaigns focus on gender equality. But why? Is there a true sense of opportunity being created, or is this phenomenon merely opportunistic? In this paper, we examine this question through the lens of brand performance and from a marketing and communications perspective.
If public-facing actions are opportunistic, they will represent a legitimate initiative that tries to leverage the “flavor of the month” to quickly connect with a certain market segment, seeking to gain visibility in the short-term. If, however, there is a true “sense of opportunity,” we find brands that consider International Women’s Day a relevant opportunity to connect with those who already share their same values and purposes, both before and after the milestone. It goes beyond any one campaign or visibility activity, becoming instead an effort to improve both relationships with and corporate commitment to customers and other key groups.
The truth is, digitalization has made the path of opportunism more volatile and sterile than the alternative. Never before has news been so short-lived, nor distrust in advertising so widespread. Brands that truly seek to appeal to more and better customers through social communications on networks (which is not the same as communications on social media) know they must make an impression in their audiences’ minds and hearts to turn them into brand promoters. They also know they cannot achieve this through mere declarations or short-lived campaigns, but only by taking persistent, coherent and consistent action in line with their brand purpose.
With this in mind, we sought to answer the question, “Do brands talk to their customers about Women and Equality on social media?” We analyzed digital data across nine countries in Latin America and Spain by:
- Looking at conversations from before and on March 8 to discern elements of a sincere brand commitment to their causes and values.
- Examining data from a six-month period to determine how persistent communications were.
- Evaluating whether the brands generated interactions with other spokespeople, or if they merely advertised their content without leaving a lasting impression.
In short, we tried to determine the degree of each brand’s “sense of opportunity” relating to Women and Equality.
Our results and conclusions were very interesting. We found cautious brands working in a context of social, political and cultural effervescence, but we also identified opportunities to manage risks and create valuable connections with current and potential customers. This data should be analyzed with advanced methodologies and, if possible, leveraged to help sincere companies carry out effective marketing and communication strategies.
Cautious brands and feminist activism
Based on an analysis of over 2.2 million social media conversations, in which some 430,000 actors participated and among which we have identified up to 32,000 influential spokespeople in nine countries in Latin America and Spain, we have come to the following conclusions:
- We found that brands present their own content in the “Women and Equality” territory in countries where more conversational participants are women. This was observed in the Dominican Republic, Panama, Peru and Spain, with Colombia being the only exception to this trend.
- When the majority of the national conversation is led by women, the communities that interact in the territory are consistently politically positioned in favor of feminist government policies, declarations of women’s human rights and/or empowerment of women in labor and the sciences.
- However, when women are a minority in the national conversation, brands do not participate in the “Women and Equality” territory with their own content. This was observed in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Mexico.
- In countries where brands do not participate in the “Women and Equality” territory, communities are consistently aligned against various forms of violence against women (feminicide, rape, abuse, etc.). These conversations often take on a more emotional tone which, in some cases, can polarize participants’ positions.
- In all countries surveyed, with the exception of Mexico, we found the opinion leaders in the territory are mainly women (an average of 63 percent) even when they are not the majority of participants in the conversation.
- Among the top 500 most influential people in the “Women and Equality” territory, we found women in the institutional and political fields (42 percent), business and professional fields (22 percent), mass media (26 percent), social organizations (5 percent) and teaching and research (5 percent).
- We identified the brands that participate in the “Women and Equality” territory in an influential way in the Dominican Republic (Microsoft, Banco de León and the Professional Baseball League) and Spain (Iberdrola, ONCE or Fundación Repsol).
- We found companies that publish isolated content on “Women and Equality” in Colombia (Ecopetrol, Avon, EPM, Alpina and Cafam), the Dominican Republic (PepsiCo, Claro, YouTube, BBVA and the World Bank), Panama (YouTube), Peru (Movistar, Avon, Telefónica, EY, Scotiabank, BBVA and Backus) and Spain (IKEA, Caixa Bank, FNAC, Hootsuite, L’Oréal, Oracle, Banco Santander, AXA Seguros and the Red Cross).
The following LLYC professionals cooperated in this study: Alejandro Martínez, Digital Area and Consumer Engagement Director in Argentina; Diego Olavarria, Digital Area Manager in Brazil; Nestor Leal, Digital Area Director in Chile; Diana Isabel Carreazo, Digital Area Director in Colombia; Carmen Gardier, Senior Digital Area Director in the Andean Region; Maria Obispo, Digital Area Director in Spain; Luis Fer Martinez, Digital Area Director in Mexico; Giuliana Venutolo, Digital and Consumer Engagement Areas Director in Panama; and Pamely Hernandez, Senior Digital Consultant in the Dominican Republic.