MBA Perspectives: 'Big Design' is an exclusive AMA series examining customer experience design.
Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, was
released in 2013, many championed it as the modern-day feminist movement for
women in the workplace. However, the book has been divisive in its reception,
as some felt it was a sales pitch for privileged women and did not speak to the
nation’s ‘average’ female worker. Despite the differences in opinion, here are
two main ideas that customer experience designers can take away from the “Lean
Sandberg (2013) states that true
equality eludes women in the workplace due to the lack of female leaders in C-suite
roles, which stems from sustaining the status quo. Marketers have the power to
break these stereotypes and biases and promote greater equality through advertising.
Good customer experience designers don’t follow the status quo; they redefine
Empowering Your Female Audience: Sandberg’s
(2013) book resonated with millions due to the fact that she allowed the
conversation about female empowerment to be brought to the forefront of
workplace politics. She highlights the barriers holding women back and
illustrates how they’re detrimental for our society as a whole. Customer
experience designers know that the most effective marketing campaigns involve
promoting a collective message of empowerment.
Sandberg’s “Lean In” movement has contributed to the necessity of portraying
diverse female roles within marketing campaigns, yet many brands have a long
way to go. However, doing good for women is actually doing good for business,
and there are statistics to back it up: women have 80% of spending power and influence 95% ofhousehold purchases.
Take for instance, how women were empowered through advertising during the FIFA Women’s World Cup this past summer. Sponsors Nike and Adidas took different
approaches in marketing the event and reaching an enthusiastic global audience.
Nike’s storytelling ad went
viral, showing an empowering video of the U.S. Women’s team undergoing
intense training sessions together using the slogan “Strong alone, unstoppable
together”. This motto resonated with consumers and inspired loyalty
in its campaign.
on the other hand, showed no indication on their website of their ties to the
event, which is a stark contrast to their heavy men’s World Cup marketing
campaign. Adidas thus failed to create a bond with its female audience, whereas
Nike realized the potential of new audiences to target with the rising interest
of women’s sports and invested in its inspiring “No Maybes” marketing campaign,
which ran for a month before the event. This campaign made Nike's content 121% more associated
with the Women's World Cup, with the company being the most mentioned brand intweets leading up to and during the game. Nike’s
readiness to “do good” to its female customers did in fact make good business,
leading to $7.5 billion revenue in its womenswear category in its third quarterfiscal 2015 results.
Successful customer experience designers
understand the importance of empowering women, which aligns with the premise of
the “Lean In” movement. Brands like Nike know that embarking on what was
traditionally perceived as riskier moves - like breaking female stereotypes -
positively impacts their bottom line. Media influencers like Sheryl Sandberg
have been able to gain momentum with this idea and have generated public debate
in the marketing sphere about the changing trends in consumer needs and
expectations. These campaigns have encouraged brands to create ad platforms
that treat females as authentic humans, thus creating loyal customers. They
highlight the benefits of promoting equality and uplifting messages as a
process of collective betterment - in doing so, other brands will follow suit
in changing the cultural norms, sparking the institutional changes we need as a
Kaplan, Steve (2015), “Women’s World Cup shows how brands are underserving women’s sport,” (accessed October 17, 2015).
Krom, Kerri (2014), “Marketing and Advertising to Women: Our Research and Statistics,” (accessed October 17,
Roberts, Daniel (2015),
“The real winner of the Women’s World Cup: Nike,” (accessed October 17, 2015).
Sandberg, Sheryl (2013), Lean in: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, New York: Alfred A.