Companies that make underwear for women need to stop speaking to men to sell their products.
I’m not trying to speak for all women but I can share how I experience most of the ads for underwear/lingerie that advertise products for women. What am I talking about? Ads like these:
What is the problem with these ads? They aren’t made for women. They are made for the pleasure of male gaze. These ads aren’t really talking to women but about them. They show how women should look like to be desired and liked by men. Something I already wrote about.
But this time I want to address the companies making underwear and paying for those commercials. Yes, that’s right. I mean you Victoria’s Secret, Prima Donna and all of you alike.
There are couple of things you need to be aware of: if you’re too lazy and shortsighted to find out and address the needs of your target audience, someone else will.
There’s some things you really need to stop doing. And you need to stop doing them yesterday.
1. Addressing women like they are men: displaying sexy bodies and body parts (e.g. breasts, legs, bodies without faces) means talking to men. Those images are there to please mean and to show women what they need to wear to please men. This doesn’t mean that women don’t want to feel sexy. But there’s many ways how women like and want to feel desired and being sex objects isn’t among first 100 of them. So wake up and smell the 21st Century.
It might be good idea to apply principles of design thinking and invest some money into research about your target audience - namely women. It’s a tricky job because women aren’t homogenous group, but if you really want to reach them you have to do it. This means you will also need to get some women on board and include many more in your research. It’s a tough job but you might end up making a revolution and redefine how we perceive clothing.
2. Think usability! Expecting women to be impressed only by how underwear looks is not only short sided but also gravely oversimplified. Most people don’t buy things just because they are pretty. There’s other things that matter such as usability (yes, I’m still talking about underwear), fabric, maintenance, feel, life-span etc. It’s not all just about sizes and colors and it’s hard to find brands that promote the quality of their products through usability.
Many hopes and brands are killed by bra bones that end up stabbing you in the chest after two weeks and underpants that stretch, wash out or tear. If your product requires special care and hand-wash, then make this clear and visible. Though thinking UX might seem “less sexy” it’s very valuable to customers. Who likes throwing their money away with a bad product?
3. Guilting women into buying things
The oldest trick in marketing is guilting women into buying products so that they’d stop feeling guilty about who they are and who they are not. Never enough beautiful, caring or sexy but always only few steps away from the “right solution”.
Whole fashion and cosmetic industry depends on evoking the feeling of guilt. This is wrapped in a bunch of “advises” on how to become better lover, mother, daughter, wife, sister, cleaner, cook and what else not.
Part of this strategy involves offering identification points that are based on social expectations, recognition and acceptance. In case of lingerie ads the identification point is making oneself desirable enough for men to want you. The only social recognition one can get out of this is that of a sex object, object others desire. So most of lingerie producers would mask their unoriginality, lack of creativity and sexism behind the statement that they have to show half-naked women and female body parts to show their product. I guess soft-porn poses and lustful gazes are then just a part of it too?
How about doing something different and original and giving women credit of being humans with full potential, with their own lives, plans, hobbies and desires. And what’s more - how about finding out what those really are? You might be surprised to find out they are not all about looking sexy and impressing men.
And how about giving women positive identification points that will make them fell good about who they are and how they look rather than feeding them with ideal body-shapes and sizes that will only make them hate their own? Didn’t you hear that objectification of women has serious consequences?
So who is it again that you’re talking to?