Emily Hopkins, senior marketing executive at MCM says the world is evolving, and it’s time for marketing to follow suit.
When I was working in the automotive industry, before joining the more colourful world of MCM Comic Con, the idea of gender marketing had been drilled into me as I was taking my first strides into the world of marketing.
I started at MCM thinking I had it sussed. I carried a lot of the one-dimensional ideas of gender-affecting marketing and communications with me and quickly realised that my pre-conceptions of comic conventions and the audience it attracted were completely and totally wrong.
The past two years have proved something very important to me; you can never assume you know your audience purely by their demographic.
In 2015, Forbes and Eventbrite co-conducted a survey of fandom event attendees where they found that average gender split was 49 per cent male, 49 per cent female and 2 per cent non-binary. Of that audience, 51 per cent of under-40s were female, crushing the historical association of male visitors dominating fandom events.
As the popularity of nerd culture grows, it’s completely expected that audiences will also grow and diversify, but by offering a show floor that caters to people’s specific interests and not gender, the opportunity to diversify your marketing campaigns also grows massively.
It’s 2017. A large proportion of society feel less defined by their gender and in the recent Cassandra Gender Report, it was found 14-34 year olds feel like the lines of gender are more blurred than ever.
The traditional gender roles and behaviour associated with them are outdated; a person’s interests fall outside of traditional ideas of girls and boys and the individual is more valuable than the gender.
Gender stereotyping has been seen to become harmful where assumptions are made as seen this year by the ASA’s crackdown on how advertisers use the idea of gender in their campaigns.
So, what’s changed? Technology has played a massive part in how we communicate with one an another. Social media allows us to speak to the world at the touch of a button and with that, allows ideas and opinions to flow freely and widely.
Multiple platforms have made it easier to find like-minded people who share our interests, hobbies and our identities. Social media also allows us to choose how we want to be portrayed and what we want people to know about us, therefore increasing our understanding of gender identity.
The big and small screen has also had its part to play. As the world moves on our typical associations with what’s ‘male’ and what’s ‘female’ are being thrown out the window and pop culture is reflecting that.
For example, Jodie Whittaker’s announcement as the new Doctor Who – the first female to take the role since the show’s inception in 1963 – and Wonder Woman becoming one of the top 10 highest grossing films of 2017, shows the importance of normalising women in roles typically associated with men.
Audiences are telling us how they feel with their money and it’s time to start listening. These fictional characters might not be real, but the consequences are real life and representation is integral to a younger and more engaged generation.
As the world evolves, it’s time for marketing to follow suit. If we think we know our audience, we’re wrong. By assuming we know who we should be targeting with our campaigns, we’re not allowing ourselves to maximise our potential – now is the time to challenge what we think we know about marketing and the exhibition industry is no exception.
Marketing needs to have an authentic message for it to be believed. If we offer an experience tailored to the individual and look deeper into what defines our audiences, the results will speak for themselves.
Use your social channels to look for trends, experiment with different content to see what is more successful and listen to what your audience is telling you through their own social feeds. Ask for consumer feedback, speak to visitors about what your shows aren’t representing and what they would like to see more of.
Look for examples of brands that consciously and unconsciously use stereotypes of gender in their campaigns and look for those that are consciously challenging our expectations.
If you think you know your audience think again, they just might surprise you.