Contemporary women perceptions

Recent research on contemporary women perceptions of their role portrayals in advertising, shown in Table below indicates that serious disenchanting still exists.


Women’s Responses to Sex role Portrayal, company image, and purchase intention.

Abbreviated statement % agree

Ads which I see show women as they really are 11.6%

Ads suggest that women are fundamentally dependent
on men 55.6%

Ads which I see show men as they really are 16.6%

Ads treat women mainly as sex objects 65.5%

Ads which I see accurately portray women in most Of their daily activities 20.6%

Ads suggest that women make important decisions 30.2%

Ads which I see accurately portray men in most of their daily activities. 30.2%

Ads suggest that women don’t do important things. 58.5%

Ads suggest that a women’s place is in the home. 55.3%

I’m more sensitive to the portrayal of women in advertising than I used to be. 71.1%

I find the portrayal of women in advertising to be offensive 59.1%

Overall, I believe that the portrayal of women in advertising is changing for the better 58.4%

Effect on company image:

Companies that portray women offensively in their advertising are more likely to discriminate against women and other minorities in job promotion and advancement, compared to other companies in the same business or industry. 59.9%

I believe that how women are portrayed in ads merely Reflects the general attitude of that company toward women’s place in society. 62.0%

Effects on purchase intention:

If a new product is introduced with ads that I find offensive, I might still buy it if it offers me benefits which I find attractive 37.7%

If a new product or service which I use adopts an ad campaign which I find offensive, I’ll discontinue using it. 62.9%

Even though I may see an ad which is offensive for one Product, I would continue to purchase other products that I have been using from the same company. 44.4% Regarding the way in which women should be portrayed in advertisements, several suggestions have been offered:

1) Ads for health and beauty products should appeal to a woman’s sense of well being for her own sake – not to enhance her status as a sex object.
2) Whether a women works or not, she should be shown as competent and creative in using products which help her to perform the tasks she perceives her roles and lifestyles necessitate.
3) If the target market is men, portraying women as decorative or alluring is appropriate. If the target market is traditional women or both women and men, portraying the women as equal partners or participants is appropriate. If the target market is contemporary women, portraying the women as successful or dominant is appropriate.
4) Show women as congenial and supportive of one another in a setting appropriate to the lifestyle of the target market.
5) Traditional women will attribute higher credibility to an authoritative male figure. This is especially true in product categories such as major appliances or those products which represent new technological developments. Contemporary women will prefer a female figure who has the necessary level of technical expertise. In promoting non-technical products including home and personal acre products, all women will find and female with whose lifestyle they can identify to be the most credible.

Although these ideas have not been fully tested to determine their validity, they do offer the marketer some reasonable guidance in this area.

As advertisers seek to appeal to the changing woman, particularly the woman who works some are breaking away from the stereotypes by showing dual roles, role switching and role blending. The use of dual roles portrays omen in roles that are in addition to a more traditional role in the house, such as a wife /manager or mother /professional. For example in the Real Life Real answers campaign by John Hancock Financial Services an ad features a divorced employed mother attempting to cope with her responsibilities and the ways Hancock’s financial services can help her.

With role switching purchase or use of the product is portrayed by persons of the sex opposite that of the traditional stereotype.

Role blending obscures the role stereotypes of purchaser or user by showing scenes in which no sex dominates.