Thought Bubble: Can ‘This Girl’ get British women moving in the right direction?

Thought Bubble: Can ‘This Girl’ get British women moving in the right direction?

January 16, 2015
5 min read

Thought Bubble is a regular feature on the Mintel blog highlighting multiple viewpoints on one topic from Mintel’s team of expert analysts around the globe.

Monday saw the launch of the first “This Girl Can” TV advert during ITV’s Coronation Street. The advert features women of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels up and down the country getting fit. Recognising that fear of judgement is a barrier to many women from taking part in exercise; the campaign was developed by Sport England and a wide range of partnership organisations to celebrate women who are fighting to stay active, no matter how well they do it, or how they look.

We take a look at the consumer realities that make this campaign so relevant and the opportunities that lie behind it…

Ina-MitskavetsIna Mitskavets – Senior Consumer Analyst

Women still lag behind men when it comes to sports participation and the amount of exercise they do. Younger women aged 16-24 are especially likely to cite lack of motivation (64%) and lack of concern or interest in healthy activities, such as sport and exercise (41%), as the main barriers to leading a healthier lifestyle. Women tend to feel especially insecure about their bodies, as a result of images and messages in the media portraying unattainable ‘photoshopped’ ideals of female beauty, which leaves them feeling that getting hot and sweaty is socially unacceptable.

‘This Girl Can’ campaign is an important step to encourage women regardless of their age and body size to be more active and breaks down some of the commonly-perceived barriers to doing sports, such as lack of time and various inhibitions (being sweaty, looking unattractive). As the campaign uses real women, it provides viewers with realistic non-airbrushed role models, who are much easier to relate to.

Mintel data shows that certain competitive/team sports simply don’t resonate with women as they do with men (eg football, cricket and golf), whilst women’s interest in individual/keep-fit sports (eg swimming, yoga, fitness classes) is much stronger. Fitness within a non-competitive context likely holds greater appeal to women owing to a lack of pressure to keep up with others and the fact that they are able to exercise at their own pace.

Going forward, this signals greater opportunities for the in-home exercise market and fitness providers, who can also encourage females to take up out-of-home versions of their favourite in-home fitness programmes.

Wearable technology provides another way of increasing motivation levels and achieving higher activity targets. Such devices could be used to deliver more personalised workouts and ways of monitoring progress. In the near future, we can also expect higher interest in mobile platforms that aggregate multiple functionalities to deliver a combination of a fitness app, self-tracking and personal health record to help users take a more multi-dimensional approach to their health.

R-Cope-image-circleRichard Cope – Senior Trends Consultant

This campaign represents part of a wider state drive to combat the ticking health timebomb of ageing, obesity, diabetes and heart disease, but also a growing shift towards female empowerment across health, start-up initiatives advertising.

The World Health Organization estimates that the global cost of diabetes will reach $745 billion by 2030, impacting upon 592 million people by 2035 and governments are eager to embrace pre-emptive campaigns that can reduce public health bills. This initiative is a refreshingly positive alternative to the punitive anti-smoking and pending fat tax legislation that lies ahead and is much more carrot than stick in its approach.

In this regard we expect wearables and associated health apps to arm consumers with the resources and information to help them make progress themselves – something we document and track in our Mintel Trend ‘Help Me Help Myself’. This assertion is based on the fact that 39% of women are interested in buying a wearable device that tracks heart rate, blood pressure and movement (Source: Healthy Lifestyles UK July 2014). With the advent of health ecosystems like HealthKit and Google Fit and the launch of fitness-tracking devices like a Victoria’s Secret smart sports bra the opportunity is there for women to turn appetite in to action and number crunch diet and sports data in a single location.

‘This Girl Can’ is also an expression of female empowerment – a growing story in 2015, what with the pending release of the Clinton Foundation’s global study on women in work, and several EU governments pressing for employment quotas at board level in public companies. In this specific case, Sport England’s inclusive, transparent approach to female imagery chimes with Mintel’s wider ‘The Real Thing’ trend, which traces a rise in realistic depictions of women in everything from Lego figures and Getty Images, to the avowedly photoshop-free policies of Aerie and American Eagle when it comes to using models in their respective lingerie and fashion campaigns.

For more information see Mintel’s Healthy Lifestyles – UK, 2014 report

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