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Thinking about how we create great projects. We had three different events that contributed to this: the design day on citizen action, our supplier breakfast and the Dragons’ Den. The week was also…


Not Your Poster Child

With beauty brands searching for solid ground when it comes to the shifting definitions of gender, Michael McKay writes on marketing inclusive beauty.

The subject of gender has dominated the zeitgeist over the past few years, in large part due to the spectrum of opinions it reveals. Men, women, cisgender, transgender, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, agender, two-spirit — our vocabulary is growing and the rules are changing. This change has led to fervent debate in various parts of society, but it’s especially interesting to see how the beauty industry is reacting.

Different voices and stories are coming to the fore, creating a cultural shift toward gender inclusivity. And the consumer marketplace is reacting: in its 2018 Global Trends report, Mintel predicts that “brands will embrace inclusivity by looking beyond age, gender, sexuality, and body type.” The beauty sector seems to have its finger on the pulse and is proving keen to court these new, emerging audiences. More and more brands are offering gender fluid persons a seat at the table, but are they really listening to what the members of these diverse communities have to say?

The beauty market is recognizing the opportunity in appealing to the LGBTQIAA community. After all, this group of people has a purchasing power of around a trillion dollars in the US alone (Forbes, 2018). And while brands vocalize support through visibility in marketing, and attempt to define their purpose as they align their values with those of this new audience, is it really authentic? Is there a risk that people might take offense and find themselves feeling as if they’re seeing the mechanics of queer-baiting and tokenism at work?

Image courtesy of Fluide.

There are clear parallels between gender visibility and the historical lack of racial representation in marketing. Take Rihanna’s makeup line. Fenty Beauty launched in 2017 and immediately sent shockwaves through the industry. The celebrity-turned-CEO has been applauded for both the quality of the product as well as the inclusive nature of the brand itself — making headlines with 40…

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