Over the last eight decades, we’ve seen a great deal of change in cultural representations of gender and gendered behaviours. As we enter the third decade of the 20th Century, we once again find ourselves in a pivotal moment of social evolution, whereby traditional binary gendered roles are becoming more problematised, as gender fluidity becomes more dominant in culture.

At the7stars, we partnered with leading cultural insights agency Sign Salad and ground breaking neuromarketing agency Neuro-Insight, to help brands understand the evolving gender spectrum. From this, we have identified three key themes that can be used to stay on top, and engage with, these emerging cultural developments.

Our first theme explores how the human brain has been subject to decades of ritualised conditioning, meaning traditional gendered stories are often deeply engrained within us. However, our brains can be re-conditioned when norms are challenged from brands, which in turn drive positive engagement. Therefore, there is an opportunity for brands to help form new subconscious gender narratives and be at the forefront of the evolving gender story. Rihanna’s beauty and lifestyle brand Fenty has been widely praised for their inclusive approach to gender by including men in their latest skincare launch video and creating a new culture of skincare.

We are then able to recommend how brands can effectively respond to these gender shifts within society in a relevant way, that also acknowledges that gender equality is an intersectional issue – and experiences of gender is dependent on individual contexts. Humour can be a highly effective method for brands to authentically challenge existing norms and facilitate memorability and recall – like Heineken’s ‘Cheers To All’ ad. Further, empathy is also a brilliant means for brands to tap into stories that are relevant to their audiences’ lived experiences, concerns and desires.

Finally, we reveal what we’re currently seeing in emerging culture: a shift between a binary male and female, to one which gender is seen as a flexible construct, and a series of choices. With three quarters of GenZ believing they’re more likely to see gender as a fluid construct than previous generations (the7stars AtoGenZ, 2020), it’s important that brands start thinking how to communicate the desire for greater inclusivity within culture.  Last year Pokémon Go released their first non-binary character, Blanche, bringing awareness of this cultural shift to a mass reaching gaming audience through the Nintendo franchise.

There’s a lot to celebrate when we look at the evolution of gender representation in recent years, and the move away from stereotypes in mass media. And there’s an opportunity for brands to help create a more inclusive norm and use their influence to reflect the world consumers want to see, and to be seen in.

To read our whitepaper in full, please download a free copy here.