The New Singles – Take 2

It looks like we’re not the only ones thinking that marketers are missing the boat by not considering New Singles in their marketing strategies.

A recent story on NPR’s Marketplace highlighted the general lack of advertising and marketing targeted to single women. A few exceptions got our attention – Lowe’s current TV spot focuses on a single woman (no kids or man in sight) with a home improvement project list. Given that a large part of the growth in home ownership in the past decade has been driven by single women, Lowe’s appears to be on the right track.

More Magazine – targeted to the vital 40+ woman, ran a cover story in their April 2010 issue entitled “Loving La Vida Solo“. The title alone serves to reinforce the thinking behind the New Singles segment:

“…coming to discover that happiness – a full life, a full heart – can be theirs with or without a partner.”

The New Anti-Aging Frontier

I’ve noticed, with some trepidation, how acceptable it has become for celebrities young and old to transform themselves not just with makeup but with photoshopping-the new rejuvenator. We have become virtual beings. Hips are being slimmed, waists are being trimmed, bodies are being made ‘perfect.’ And, age is no longer the primary reason to airbrush or photoshop. Whether it’s Madonna, Kelly Clarkson or Jessica Alba, each Jessica AlbaKelly ClarksonMadonnais happy to project their photoshop best on magazine or CD covers. Then the editor of Self-a magazine I’ve always respected as a publication that celebrates the ‘real’ best in women–defended the magazine’s decision to photoshop Kelly Clarkson who appeared on their recent cover. I knew then that the standards of beauty and health had merged. The other thing I realized was this-airbrushing and photoshopping is moving downwards. In other words, even the youngest celebrities with their resilient skin and flexible bodies are still not good enough. I was gender neutral, what I meant to say was the youngest women! This is an issue–looking young and perfect-that is primarily the domain of women. Men are accepted as they are for the most part but women always have to look better, even if it means that photo images are an illusion of you!

That’s what is going on at a surface level. But, on the product front, I think we’ve tapped into something deeper-a desire to take the best care of ourselves as early as we can. When speaking to some older women, the common cry is, “I wish I had paid more attention to taking care of my skin when I was younger. I wish I had used some form of protection when I was in the sun but I didn’t know any better.” These women have made it their mission to encourage their children to be more conscious about the damaging effects of sun exposure and to be proactiverather than reactive.

Clarins2Introducing Clarins Multi-Active Day coming to a retail shelf near you in September 2009-a line of anti-aging products targeted to younger consumers. As other brands follow suit, it is clear that anti-aging products are no longer the domain of hopeful ‘older’ consumers. It is also the domain of ‘younger’ women who are looking to prevent the ravages of aging. Self-Care is being promoted at earlier ages these days and being your best you is a positive thing at any age!

Marketing Assets

ATHLETICISM v SEX APPEALI’ve been noodling around the dilemna that face sports marketers in promoting women’s sports —athleticism vs. sex appeal.

Men are rarely criticized (by women or men) for flaunting their natural assets — witness David Beckham in Armani’s 2008 advertising campaign. In fact, men are appreciative, almost aspirationally so, of a guy displaying his assets and women are often quite verbal about a man’s sex appeal. In a recent airing of The View, when L. L. Cool J joined the ladies on the sofa, there was a whole lot of verbal acknowledgement of L.L.’s particular assets.

By contrast, women, whose natural assets include their curves, hair, etc. are not generally ‘allowed’ to promote their natural wares without controversy from many directions. When you look at Serena Williams’ recent Jane magazine photo shoot or Amanda Beard’s Playboy layout, in addition to the obvious, they also bring their undeniable athletic successes. Plus, these women have more control over their images and careers than their peers from earlier generations and have invested a great deal of time and energy to sculpt their bodies to maximize their athleticism. Why shouldn’t they celebrate this?

I can’t help but wonder: is the debate about the appropriateness of a woman showing off her body rooted in a time when she was a marginalized, accidental or controversial player on various stages, e.g., career, money, power, position, etc., traditionally monopolized by men? Could it be that America as a culture has not quite found the balance between whether women are exercising personal choice or are victims of some form of exploitation–whether it’s movies, advertising or the corporate environment?

A few years ago Dove launched its highly successful campaign for real beauty which featured “real women” feeling good about their bodies and themselves. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see women across the spectrum reflect a healthy acceptance of all of who we are–curves and all? If Dove can make the marriage between a woman and her curves work then surely sports marketing–where the body is an important element–can do the same.