Here is an interesting infographic from Maclean’s, which presents the results of several polls that asked men a simple question: “Are you a feminist?” The answers, however, are far more intriguing to analyze from a marketing communications perspective.
In short, the male readers were far more likely (51%) to identify as a feminist once the definition was given (versus just 15% who identified with being a feminist before the definition was given).
As Maclean’s points out in their article, the recent speech that Emma Watson gave at the UN, in which she urges men to be allies in fighting for women’s social, political, and economic equality, makes it all the more relevant to understand just how and why men do or do not identify with a feminist movement.
Whether you agree with feminism or not is besides the point here. What is important is the fact that perceptions about feminism versus the actual defintion of feminism are shown to be in direct conflict with one another. This is made clear from mens’ responses to whether or not they identify as being a feminist before and after the definition of feminism is given. It is not surprising that more men agreed with “the theory of the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.”
From an integrated marketing communications perspective, it’s important to understand that the perception of your brand or company is far more powerful than the messages you put out. In other words, “perception is reality.” This disconnect between perception and reality is not a new concept. In fact, it is an idea that has a basis in psychology, and one that has even been effectively illustrated by some internet memes. In his book “Integrated Marketing Communications,” Keith Tuckwell gives a good example:
“Toyota is a company built on a strong reputation for quality. Some years ago, Toyota surpassed General Motors and became the world’s largest automobile company. The public believed in the company. That feeling changed in 2010 when Toyota suffered backlash from massive recalls, the result of sticky gas pedals and breaking problems. While Toyota was dealing with the problems… the public’s perceptions of Toyota changed. In Canada, the company suffered a 20 percent decrease in sales.” (19)
What is evident in Tuckwell’s example is not only that the perception of your brand has a direct impact on sales, but also that the perception of your brand is an ongoing endeavour, which is vital to success.
One thing is clear in all this, Ms. Watson has a lot more work ahead of her in terms of changing perceptions about feminism, and she may just need a marketing communications specialist to do it!
Next time: how to actually change public perceptions about a brand/company/idea now that you know they are not good.