Young Women : Relationships

By constantly collecting the signs of changing behavior in culture, markets, and technology, LHBS has done extensive research into one of the key demographics involved in these changes: young women. What follows is the second installment of research into this demographic, in which we focus on the theme of Relationships as a significant factor in what is driving values and decisions of young women today.

By sharing some of our research into this theme, we would like to draw attention to several important trends that have implications for businesses and brands that target this important demographic.

FINDINGS

Whether as a by-product of protective parents, the age of terrorism or a media culture that focuses on dangers, young women are often mistrustful of people, brands, and institutions. Nevertheless, they are seeking new relationships with all of the above. These new relationships must be established on young women’s terms, reflecting not only their core values but build on their existing way of relating to their world. We explore these values below, as well as offer implications for brands and businesses as they seek to establish relationships with young women.

PARENTS

@@For 92% of young women, it is very important that their parents trust them.@@ (Source)

Young women today have parents that are giving them space to experiment; they are no longer forced into chosen career paths and predetermined lifestyles. Relating now to their parents more as friends than rulers, young women are in fact less likely to seek their parents approval in important life decisions– though their support is welcomed.


PARTNERS

As of January 2015, Tinder users swipe through 1.5 billion Tinder profiles and makes more than 21 million matches per day. (Source)

Combined with less rigid social expectations towards marriage and family (young women are more likely to have come from divorced parents than previous generations), they are less inclined to get married. Instead, young women are hooking up more, with many opting for a series of relationships rather than looking for “the one.”  Recently, social networking also has taken on a significant role, as dating apps have become mainstream and cater to a wide-range of relationships.


MOTHERHOOD AND CHILDREN

More young moms are Single than married. (Source)

Today’s generation of mothers are not only are the youngest generation of mothers, they are more connected, more influential, and have access to more information than any previous generation before them. Moreover, @@motherhood is now an experience not a social or family obligation.@@

Today’s mothers are more collaborative, and much of this collaboration takes place online, where young mothers create and maintain online communities where they give advice, have conversations, and build relationships.


PEERS

70% are more excited about a decision they’ve made when their friends agree. (Source)

Peer-to-Peer and social networking connections are coming to define the generation’s way of creating and maintaining relationships with their peers. When young women have trust in their peers, this trust creates influence: they rely on their trusted peers’ recommendations, mimic their lifestyle choices, and consume the same brands.


INSTITUTIONS

83% agreed with the statement, "there is too much power concentrated in the hands of a few big companies." (Source)

The clash between young women’s ideals and reality is seen in regards to their relationship to institutions. From government to financial institutions and higher education, many women are disillusioned by the institutional status quo, while they are slightly more trusting towards government than their elders, they are still a vocal generation who is not afraid to demand what they want in their lives and in the world.


BRANDS

64% of young adults still want companies to give them more ways to share feedback. (Source)

Young women seek out brands not only for their products they offer, but for their capacity to have an authentic relationship. Their generation is twice as likely to trust friends and family than experts, and as a result, are more likely to trust user-generated content that has been developed in collaboration with a brand than a traditional advertising strategy.

 

IMPLICATIONS


We would like to offer several implications for brands and businesses looking to create better relationships with young women today.

 

1. The New Trust

Brands are looking to create authentic, relatable advertising and content. Apart from tailoring this content to the real life concerns of young women, brands are using real stories of real young women to their advantage. On a similar note, brands are integrating influential user-generated content, especially from social media “celebrities” to provide more authentic experiences for young women.

  • Johnson & Johnson’s recent Clean & Clear #Seetherealme campaign was an unscripted integrated digital and social campaign that showcased real-life teenage girls struggling with their skin issues over a 19-part series on YouTube (one of the most influential platforms for young women when it comes to the category of self-image).  
     
  • Brands are using collaboration with stars from social media communities, such as L’Oreal launching a new line of cosmetics in partnership with this new type of celebrity, Michelle Phan, whose content deeply resonates with the YouTube community (amassing over 7 million followers with her beauty tutorials and reviews).

 

2. Diverse Families, Diverse Relationships

As more people are opting out of parenting, marriage and living together and more are creating diverse homes with same-sex, one-parent and interracial families, brands need to reflect this reality in not only their products, but their company philosophy.

  • Chevrolet’s “The New Us” campaign gave an inclusive look at several families anchored by gay and lesbian parents. In a similar vein, Tiffany’s recently embraced same-sex marriage in print and TV ads.
     
  • Apple, which has recently been an advocate for gay rights has released diverse emojis that represent different family compositions to include more same-sex couples and non-traditional families (that not only will feature a set of customizable skin tones).
     
  • In a fun, innovative way of embracing contemporary attitudes and technologies of partnering, the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks put on “Swipe Right Night” during a home game encouraging fans to use Tinder to make connections during the game.

 

3. Peer-to-Peer Connections

While brands are realizing that they must provide women with feelings of mutual understanding, they can also become platforms to facilitate peer-to-peer connections between women. Apart from marketing, the sharing economy is another context in which women are being connected to their peers, but they are as of yet underrepresented.

  • Estée Lauder developed a map to link women all around the globe. The Beauty of Night campaign united women by giving them a platform to share their beauty secrets. They used data visualization, mapping and translation technologies, to give women a chance to see themselves in a global network of beauty.
     
  • Tag the Weather, a campaign by Gillette cheer up Swedish women during the cruel winter months by connecting them with leading international fashion bloggers for a chance to win sunny vacation for two in Miami and Gillette Venus products.
     
  • While the sharing economy presently requires more businesses to focus on women and their needs, Rent the Runway– a service that allows women to rent designer clothing from other women for short term or special occasions, provides a good example of how women could be connected to their peers.
     


4. Common Values, Common Goals

In terms of advertising, a recent study conducted by Sheknows found that women not only want to see their interests represented by brands, but this is a significant
goal for women, as 4 out of 5 women thought such ads are important for the proper development of future generations.

  • Other institutions such as the United Nations have launched programs like Girls2Pioneers, which encourages girls to explore careers in the technology sector
     
  • Dove partnered with Twitter for the Speak Beautiful campaign, addressing in real-time negative tweets about beauty during the Oscars.  Dove replied to women in real-time with the help of social media and self-esteem experts to encourage positivity, optimism, and kindness, when it comes to talking about beauty online.
     
  • Always ad campaign #LikeAGirl challenged the way people perceive the phrase, “like a girl” – recasting the phrase to focus on female empowerment.

 

If you missed out on our first installment of research on this theme, which explored young women’s attitudes towards work and career, you can find it here.

These two aspects are only a small portion of of the extensive research we have done into the major trends, values, and needs of young women today. If you would like to know more about this influential demographic, from insights to opportunities for brands and business, please get in touch.