Gender Agenda, one of Mintel’s 2015 Consumer Trends in the US and Brazil, is focused on the forecast that gender equality and empowerment will be part of conversations worldwide this year. Mintel predicted that gender will be both talked about and debated in the professional, political and social spheres. A few months into the year, we’re checking in to see how the trend is playing out.

Conversations related to Mintel’s Gender Agenda trend have gotten off to a quick-start in the US. Within the first two months of 2015, we’ve seen gender be a topic of conversation from Washington, D.C., to Hollywood, California. This shows progress when it comes to equality and empowerment for people of any gender or identity. The advancement is especially poignant because in 2013, just 12% of US adults identified gender equality or women’s issues as causes that companies should support. Furthermore, only 8% of US adults agreed that companies should support LGBT rights, including gay marriage (Cause Marketing US 2014). However, several events taking place in early 2015 have increased awareness both in the US and around the world.

US Millennials are 41% more likely than all adults to say that equal rights for the LGBT community are an important issue to them.

In January, President Barack Obama became the first US president to recognize lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in his State of the Union address. The president mentioned the LGBT community as part of the country’s commitment to respecting human dignity as well as personal safety. This egalitarian approach was not limited to LGBT individuals as the president noted that it is “our generation’s” task to carry on the fight for the rights of women, African-Americans and LGBT people. As Mintel’s Marketing to Millennials US 2014 report finds, when it comes to generations, US Millennials are 41% more likely than all adults to say that equal rights for the LGBT community are an important issue to them.

Gender Agenda also considers the evolving role of men in the household and parenting. Fathers were a particular focus during the NFL’s Super Bowl broadcast when Dove Men+Care, Nissan and other brands used their multi-million dollar ads to focus on the role of dads. These high-profile dad ads not only start conversations, but drive engagement, as Mintel’s Marketing to Men US 2014 report finds that 91% of men who watch professional sporting events at home have been to a company website after seeing an ad on TV. Females were not left out of Super Bowl ads, either, with Procter & Gamble featuring a 60-second ad for its #LikeAGirl campaign, aimed at increasing confidence among tweenage girls.

To encourage more gender equality in ads, The Cannes Lions Festival added a new category, the Glass Lion: the Lion for Change. The award was created in collaboration with Facebook Chief Operating Officer and author Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In foundation, who highlighted that progressive ads help girls dream new opportunities that previously were unseen. Proceeds from the award will be re-invested into creating more gender neutral communications.

Equality also emerged as a topic of conversation on one of Hollywood’s biggest nights, The Academy Awards, in late February, when film stars used the spotlight to call attention to their favorite issues. Actress Patricia Arquette called for equal rights and pay for women in her Best Supporting Actress acceptance speech. The issue was also addressed in the State of the Union address, with the White House sharing the statistic that the increase of women in the US workforce has grown the economy by 13.5% since 1970. However, the administration questioned if the economic impact might have been greater if women were paid equally to men.

The movie awards ceremony also included a note of general acceptance when writer Graham Moore encouraged people to “Stay weird. Stay different,” in his acceptance speech for Best Adapted Screenplay. Moore’s message leveraged real-life inspiration from “The Imitation Game,” in which Alan Turing was prosecuted for being gay. The message of maintaining a more open mind is expanding Mintel’s trend beyond gender and into equality overall.

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