British parents want marketers to stop pushing ‘outdated’ gender roles

A clear majority of British parents want marketers to stop pushing gender stereotypes, with the concept of ‘fixed roles’ within the modern family fading.

An overwhelming 95% of British families feel marketers need more balance in their portrayal of the family unit, according to a new study from Haygarth and Flamingo London.

Having polled 1,000 British parents, 72% agreed there were no longer fixed gender roles in the modern family household and that advertising must pay greater respect for individual needs over traditional stereotypes.

And marketers that target a specific parent more associated with leading purchasing decisions  might need a rethink, with the research finding (see below) that when it comes to booking a holiday, children between 13-16 years old have a 41% balance when it comes to influencing the final decision.

The report suggests parents aren’t always the leader in family purchasing habits

“Of course marketers are familiar with the idea that modern families come in all shapes and sizes but our research reveals brands are increasingly struggling to engage and address them as a ‘group’,” said Andy Davidson, co-managing director of Flamingo London.

“Identifying the common threads and moments that all types of families share is essential to creating products and communications that can live authentically and thrive in homes across the UK.”

Anthony Donaldson, executive planning director at Haygarth, says brands must avoid cliches or risk alienating their customers.

He added: “At a time when all consumers are looking for brands and companies to have ‘higher purpose’ we believe it is essential to better understand this little understood and often cliché ridden time of family life to allow brands to find natural and added value intersections to create enhanced engagement.”

The Haygarth and Flamingo London report follows a recent study from Unilever, which found advertisers still lack balance in their portrayal of modern families.

Research conducted by Unilever over the past three years found that when asked about advertising, 40% of women said they don’t recognise themselves in the ads they see. And in an analysis of ads across a range of countries and brands it found that 50% of ads showed a negative or “not progressive” stereotype of women and just 3% showed clever or funny women.

“This is something we really want to pay attention to. There are some funny stereotypes in advertising, women are always very nice, smiling, cleaning the house. Women are much more than that. There is a disconnect between where women are and how they are portrayed in advertising,” said Aline Santos, EVP of global marketing at Unilever.