Redressing the gender imbalance in household care

November 24, 2016
4 min read

As societies across the world demand greater equality, brands need to take note and household brands are no exception.

A prime example of a brand capitalising upon this message is Ariel India, which launched its #ShareTheLoad campaign in 2015 with an advert highlighting that while women’s roles in society have changed, their role as the main homemaker continues. Another advert under the campaign ran in March 2016, featuring a father writing a letter to his grown-up daughter after seeing her taking responsibility for doing all the chores in her own home. Within this letter he apologises for the upbringing she has had that has led to her lifestyle, and vows to go home to help his wife around the house.

Indian TV channel Colors TV promoted a similar campaign in October 2016, which also tried to encourage men to do more housework, and to give women “the day off” on Sundays. In addition, it ran a Twitter helpline which allowed men to tweet using the hashtag #HelpMeHelpHer to get tips on how to help out. The hashtag was a top five trend in India during the three hours that it was open, with reportedly more than a thousand men tweeting in.

Female dominance of household chores in the UK

Mintel’s research suggests that it is still women that take the lion’s share of responsibility for household chores in the UK too. Mintel’s research found that women are 19 percentage points more likely to take sole responsibility for cleaning indoors, while responsibility for cleaning the toilet and doing the laundry also still largely lies with women.

These findings tie in with Mintel’s The Unfairer Sex Trend, which highlights that despite recent efforts, gender equality is still yet to fully materialise. Indeed, other household care research from Mintel demonstrates the greater role that women play in household chores compared with men, including being far more likely to have used hard surface cleaning products in the six months.

This shows that more can be done to help redress the gender balance around the home in the UK. Indeed, brands that do so could benefit from a more positive and modern image by actively promoting gender equality.

Boosting male involvement with “normal” men

The campaigns run in India tend to focus on the benefits of sharing the load to the female member of the household, either by giving them the chance to put their feet up, or by taking some of the burden off them. However, there is also scope to try and play more to the personal benefit to men of taking a more active role in household chores, such as pride in contributing towards a clean, well-run home.
Portraying men in a more positive light within the household, including showing ordinary men as competent housemakers, could help to normalise the issue of men taking at least equal responsibility around the home and confirm the role of men in the modern household. With a significant number of men claiming to take some role in household chores, a more forceful, accusatory campaign may risk alienation.

Bold 2in1 has recently launched a TV campaign for its new Irresistible product range which has a man as its main character, although the actor’s muscular frame may still keep him from being seen as someone that regular men can identify with. Mintel research highlights a number of attitudes that men have towards advertising, such as difficulty in identifying with men in advertising and portrayals of incompetence in the home, which further highlights that simply including normal men getting on with different household chores adequately could provide softer, more effective encouragement.

What we think

Advertising can play a role in redressing the household chore balance with a focus on ordinary men partaking in ordinary household chores likely to avoid the issue of being patronising while still highlighting the role of men in the modern household. There is a cultural, historic element to the female dominance of responsibility for household chores, indicating that it is important to help break stereotypes that have fed down through several generations. Targeting younger adults who have yet to have children with gender-equal advertising could therefore help to break down this cycle for generations to come.

Richard Hopping
Richard Hopping

Richard Hopping is a Mintel Analyst specialising in researching and providing insight around UK brands across a number of different categories, notably Household Care.

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