BURLINGTON, Vt. — Fuse, LLC released a new whitepaper on gender inclusion and the importance to Gen Z. The fight for gender equity and against gender bias has been ramping up in recent years. Brands are being monitored and evaluated by Gen Z on how they are supporting the movement.

With 77 percent of Gen Z reported to rank brands that promote gender equity higher than those that are silent, marketers must prove their commitment to the issue. Gen Z isn’t motivated by an equality statement on a company’s website. Rather, they’re asking for visible gender inclusion in the brand’s public communication and marketing.

In the TV and film industry there have been many calls for more inclusive representation both in front of and behind the camera, but the vocalization begins to stall in newer content spheres such as YouTube. Think with Google recently released a new study with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, showing that brand YouTube videos achieved 30 percent more views when the characters were mostly women or the gender spectrum was balanced (Fuse noted that gender is not limited to just the binary definitions, but the reports they reference use the binary in their articles.). With such a significant difference between man-led and woman-led or gender equal content, we are continuing to see the demand for inclusion and representation.

The demand for inclusion is not only seen in viewership. Sixty-four percent of 13-54 year-olds noted taking some form of off-line action after seeing an inclusive ad, according to Ipsos and Think With Google. With more representation of genders, the current gendered stereotypes that feel constricting and outdated are being left behind by Gen Z. In response, they are beginning to see truck commercials voiced over by women and home décor ads featuring men.

Harry’s Shave Company slipped some gender inclusivity into its 2019 campaign “Shave, or Don’t” with a transgender man shown shaving in the mirror alongside cisgender men (men assigned male at birth). If the viewer did not already know of the transition journey for transgender men, the model’s top surgery scars are easy to miss. There is no visual reference to gender, no rainbow flags draped in the background. This is the intersection of where inclusion is done for benefit of the audience, not to boost the company’s social activism perception.

Calvin Klein’s 2020 “DEAL WITH IT” campaign is another example of under-the-radar gender inclusion as the brand announced Hunter Schafer as one of their newest #MyCalvins models. Schafer grew popular with her role on the hit show “Euphoria,” where she was one of 12 transgender women on cable TV in 2019, according to GLAAD’s “Where We Are on TV” report.

The beauty and personal care industries have had some of the largest adjustments towards marketing to a wider gender neutral audience, Fuse shared. The Ordinary, a skin care brand, uses medical-looking packaging for a simple, unisex look that can appeal to all. The Ordinary does not use models in its marketing, instead leaning on its own employees to share the story of being passionate about one’s own skin.

In June 2019, Bic released a Made for YOU razor line marketed as “designed for anyone who wants to use it.” The brand reported 67 percent of 18-24 year-olds wanting gender neutral grooming products in their consumer feedback surveys, which spurred the idea of a new line with body positive-focused advertising.

info: fusemarketing.com.

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.