Women control $18 billion in global spending, so when we read that 80 percent of women say that they do not trust brands, we realized how big of an opportunity existed for our brand clients. We decided to go back to school to see what was causing the distrust and what brands could do about it. Over the course of the past year, the agency I founded, Grayce & Co, partnered with the qualitative market research firm Beacon Insight, to ask 2,000 millennial women about their relationship to brands and how they felt about themselves, their community and the world.
We learned that women can actually be fiercely loyal to brands – but only if brands conduct their business in a way that aligns with their values. We uncovered some powerful paradoxes at the heart of millennial woman, and what we call the ‘New Fashioned’ woman in particular, that help create brands that these women truly admire (and keep buying).
Our research revealed five key paradoxes that define the resilient, self-empowered New Fashioned woman:
She is more aware of the bleak reality of our country, but less worried about it. Despite conceiving of bleak circumstances in the country, the New Fashioned woman is less worried about the future because she recognizes the power she has to effect change. Millennial women are significantly less worried and fearful – nearly 30 percent have a positive outlook on the world (up from 13.5 percent in 2016).
She wants to be sexy, but not sexualized. The New Fashioned woman’s sexuality is highly self-defined. She doesn’t want to be sexualized, nor does she want to be seen as asexual. In fact, she is proud to have a healthy sex life. When it comes to marketing and messaging, many brands have started overcompensating for years of overt sexualization as part of the dated “sex sells” model by reverting to a conservative, asexual portrayal of women. Today’s New Fashioned women are just as likely to reject or feel disconnected from asexual representation as they are with overt sexualization.