With the buzz surrounding International Women’s Day last week, several luxury brands rallied support for the female cause to connect with consumers through their shared vision of gender equality.


From future-focused initiatives boosting women’s rights, to new promotions that put the female cause at their heart, brands are stepping up to empower women whilst responding to consumer demand for more pro-female conversations. And with women influencing 70 - 80% of all purchases, engaging more effectively with this lucrative consumer base is an opportunity not to be taken lightly.

Yet there’s still a huge job to be done, especially when it comes to marketing. Recent research on the “21st Century Woman” from Partners Andrews Aldridge found that 76% of women believe that brands don’t represent them properly and a staggering 85% believe that brands should be doing more to change that. And that’s with 40% of women citing brands as a major reason to be self-critical.

It’s time for brands to help change preconceptions and voice support for their female consumers. Affluent women are highly educated and smart shoppers. They are looking for luxury brands to embrace their mindset and reflect their values. By advocating women’s rights, brands can present themselves as socially conscious whilst also building more meaningful relationships with their customers.

With this in mind, we look at some of the steps that luxury brands are taking to inspire, celebrate and empower women.


Role models to lead the way


Gucci chose to mark International Women’s Day with an inspiring partnership between Chime for Change, their international campaign to empower women and girls, and Global Citizen, a group striving to end extreme poverty by 2030. Together they published a full-page ad in a number of publications including The New York Times, featuring an open letter stressing the importance of gender equality worldwide. The letter is signed by more than 25 high-profile personalities, including Chime for Change co-founders Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Salma Hayek Pinault.

While some brands looked to the future for change, others honoured women who have already made a difference. A decade after LVMH began its internal EllesVMH program to promote women in leadership positions, the luxury conglomerate has established a new series of awards to recognise houses that are working to promote gender equality. LVMH awarded its first EllesVMH prize on March 8th, with the winner receiving an award designed for the occasion by sculptor Nathalie Decoster.

Alongside the ceremony, LVMH also held an exhibit at its headquarters of daily brand initiatives striving for equality.

On the social side, Michael Kors took a personal approach by spotlighting nine inspirational women on its Instagram, Facebook and Twitter channels. These included Vogue editor Anna Wintour, actress Kate Hudson, and Mr. Kors’ mother, Joan.


What women want

Handbag designer Rebecca Minkoff and FEED’s Lauren Bush Lauren joined forces to celebrate girl power on the March 8th, with a collaboration of three bags that give back. With each purchase, the FEED foldover clutch provides 37 meals, the unlined cross-body provides 62 meals and the whipstitch tote provides 74 meals.


Rebecca Minkoff and FEED’s Lauren Bush.  Image courtesy: Vogue.com


The bags, made of a tapestry material hand-loomed in India, are 100 percent cotton and feature a black, ecru and yellow print with a soft black pebble leather trim.  The collection is being sold at Minkoff’s stores, rebeccaminkoff.com, feedprojects.com and at Nordstrom in the US.

Another mention must go to Birchbox. The beauty subscription service launched a variety of initiatives around the “Day Without a Woman” strike planned to combat the wage gap. The company offered a 20.4% discount — in recognition of the gender pay gap — which was applied to all purchases on the day.

Birchbox also partnered with The Girl Project, an organisation dedicated to ensuring that girls everywhere have access to quality secondary education, and has committed to donate 5,000 boxes plus a year of tuition for 35 first-generation students in developing countries.

It’s inspiring to see brands addressing such far-reaching issues such as gender equality in order to connect with and inspire their customers. However, marketers shouldn’t jump on the equality bandwagon simply because other brands are doing so. It’s essential for them to consider how the cause feeds into their long-term vision and how they can make a genuine commitment both inside and outside their organisation.

After all, gender equality benefits our entire society. So let’s make sure it continues to be on peoples’ agendas long after International Women’s Day is over.


Image Courtesy: beyonce.com



About the author

Charlotte Wooding

Marketing Manager , Cocoon

Charlotte is Marketing Manager at Cocoon, which is a global marketing offering that facilitates connections between luxury brands and their consumers. Cocoon understands the unique relationships, networks and cultures in the luxury space – and how to navigate them. So as well as providing tailored, high-quality marketing activity, it is uniquely placed to forge potential partnerships between high-net-worth individuals and brands working within the sector.

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