Mythbusting with Collective London: the future is feminine

Mythbusting: it's a man's world

It’s a man’s world. So goes the saying that Collective London and Innate Motion are striving to bust out of practice in business. In Soho’s famous Century Club, Carolyn Laing, managing director at Collective London, brought together an eclectic panel of speakers to discuss the future of business as we know it and to bust the myth that business is synonymous with male attributes. The reality is: the future is feminine.

Femke van Loon, Jeff MacDonald and Christophe Fauconnier of Innate Motion, James Rutter of Cook, David Pugh of Hyundai, Adam Cleaver of Collective London and Lisa Hogg of TOMS joined the speaker line up to look at the traditional attributes of business and how by balancing masculine and feminine qualities, brands will be able to improve their bottom line for the better.

Here are a few of The Drum’s key takeaways:

Beyond the Power Girl

Jeff MacDonald of Innate Motion kicked off proceedings by googling the term ‘business’. When opened in images, pictures of white men in suits pondering mobiles, laptops and notepads appeared. A classic representation of what traditionally people think of when the word ‘business’ is uttered.

MacDonald goes onto explore how generations are looking beyond companies who are sticking to old-fashioned masculine values and behaviours (such as Uber who have been embroiled in PR catastrophes due to their competitive and manipulative working culture). “People want change,” explains MacDonald, “there is a real opportunity for those businesses and brands who take the lead and bring something new.”

The same goes for politics. A new type of politics is emerging in the grand following behind leaders such as Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, who typically have progressive feminine values that are backed by new and younger generations of voters. Corbyn is cited saying that “Fundamentally many people are turned off by a style of politics which seems to rely on the levels of clubhouse theatrical abuse that you can throw across at each other in Parliament.” The same goes for business.

It goes beyond women and the “power girls” as Femke van Loon explains. The conversation must be had by men and women alike in brands and businesses to make a difference.

Relationships should be your key strategy

Brands should be banking on relationships as the key drivers to success. James Rutter, founder of Cook, cited the ‘big relationship model’ as the key to his company’s growth. Unity, clarity and appreciation are the main components of this model which apply to staff, culture, suppliers and consumers. These feminine values allow for better business, as you do your best when you have good relationships.

Embracing feminine values to put customers firmly in the driving seat

David Pugh of Hyundai then took the audience on a journey of humanising the car buying experience. Having recently worked with Collective London to develop their Click-to-buy feature, Hyundai realised the need to turn the whole car dealership kafuffle around. Unsurprisingly, 90% of women make the primary financial decisions therefore Hyundai noticed the need to change a model that previously has not worked for women. Pugh cited the process as aggressive and puts the customers under process. Hyundai knew they had to “break the mould” and create something akin to the future of automotive retailing.

The new system puts the power back in the hands of consumers and allows car dealers to speak to customers in a way they will understand. It empowers the younger generation by allowing them to browse and seek advice online. The process is open and all-inclusive.

Vulnerability

Adam Cleaver, co-founder of Collective London looked at how the language we use in marketing – from ‘campaign’ and ‘conquest’ to ‘ market capture’ – can make it feel like we’re at war with consumers. He went on to look at brands that have embraced concepts such as ‘vulnerability’, ‘empathy’ and ‘nurture’ are putting consumer wants and needs at the heart of their communications and delivering remarkable results. Cleaver’s view is that by relinquishing a little control and finding ways to add more emotion to our very rational digital customer journeys, we are far more likely to connect and influence people.

Marketing with purpose

Lisa Hogg of TOMS, engaged the audience in her talk about starting something that matters. In essence, she explains, TOMS is a feminine value based company; social enterprise is at the heart of their business. For every pair of shoes bought, a pair is given to someone who needs them. Over 75m shoes have been given, in 70 different countries by 100 giving partners and the customers of TOMS.

“We are not a charity,” explains Hogg, “we create the bridge between the consumer and the beneficiaries. We don’t give, we facilitate the give.” As well as shoes, TOMS have also provided sight, water and safe birthing.

Hogg explains that it’s all about how brands communicate with consumers and connecting them with value, choices and interaction. By communicating the value of buying TOMS shoes by letting them know about the disadvantages of others, TOMS are interacting with their customers on a personal level that gives them the choice to make a difference.

To conclude the event, Cleaver commented on what needs to happen next: “It’s undoubtedly time to move away from a version of marketing based on Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’. In an uncertain world, we’re all looking to connect. And to do that, we need to think with pin-point accuracy from the customer’s point of view and deliver more emotive, vulnerable, empathetic and nurturing communications. Brands that do are leading the way.”

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