How women are connecting with brands in the US, Mexico, and the UAE
We continue to explore how women build strong bonds with the brands they use and love across our three research markets: the US, Mexico, and the UAE. Each year, there appear to be more differences than similarities, suggesting that gender alone does not indicate a certain brand or industry’s propensity to connect with women.
As was the case last year, Apple is the only brand that ranks among the Top 10 in all three of our research markets. The lists also appear more varied and distinct than last year, not only in terms of brands but also in terms of the diversity of industries represented. In the US, the number-one brand Amazon is in retail; in Mexico, MasterCard is top in financial services; and in the UAE, Chanel is highest in the luxury industry.
Further, the US Top 10 features three automotive brands, three retail brands, two media and entertainment brands, one fast food brand, and one technology and telecom brand. Mexico is different, with three financial services brands, three technology and telecom brands, two apparel brands, one media and entertainment brand, and one apps and social platforms brand. The UAE is equally unique, featuring two luxury brands, two health and hygiene brands, two beverage brands, two apps and social platforms brands, one automotive brand, and one technology and telecom brand. What’s notable is both the range of industries and how different the focus is in each market, with US women picking top brands from automotive and retail, women in Mexico ranking financial services brands and technology brands highest, and women in the UAE highlighting top brands in luxury and health and hygiene.
This year, women in Mexico experienced intimacy at greater rates than women in the US and the UAE. Approximately 40 percent of Mexican women surveyed felt an emotional connection to brands, compared to 32 percent in the UAE and only 23 percent in the US. Further, women in Mexico had higher quotient rates than those of women in the US and the UAE. This is a change from last year, when women in the UAE had the highest levels of emotional connection. This is also the first year women in all three markets have a higher average quotient score than men, suggesting women are connecting more strongly with brands, on average, compared to men.
The Brand Intimacy archetypes are six patterns or markers that identify the character and nature of ultimate brand relationships. A significant similarity emerges in terms of archetypes. Like last year, in all three of our markets, indulgence (centered on moments of pampering and gratification) and ritual (being ingrained into daily actions, becoming a vital part of daily existence) are stronger among women than among men. Interestingly, women in the UAE have stronger associations across all archetypes compared to men; in the US, women are stronger for all archetypes except identity; and in Mexico, women are only stronger across ritual and indulgence.
This suggests gender associations with the archetypes vary by geography. However, given the fact that women outscore men across indulgence and ritual (for two years in a row), these levers may be important mechanisms to consider when building bonds with women, and these markers are relevant and effective across three different marketplaces.
Looking at Dove, you can see both the importance of indulgence and ritual as well as the fact that women bond with brands differently in different markets. Women in the US most often identify the ritual archetype with Dove. In Mexico, indulgence is the dominant archetype for women who are intimate with the brand. In the UAE, women most often associate Dove with nostalgia. While all these associations play into each consumer’s relationship with Dove, it’s striking to see how the same brand can be loved by so many a diverse array of characteristics. Dove is an ideal example of a how a brand can successfully build bonds with women in different ways. Many of the Brand Intimacy archetypes are effective for the brand; however, the specific combination varies across geography.
Another interesting similarity is that women have higher rates of bonding in all three of our markets compared to men. Bonding is the stage when an attachment is created and the relationship between a person and a brand becomes more significant and committed. This is a stage of acceptance and the establishment of trust. It is notable that women in this year’s study were better able to form attachments to brands. Bonding is also critical in that it leads to fusing, the most advanced stage of Brand Intimacy.
As was the case last year (that it repeats only strengthens our hypothesis), one of the more significant findings across all three markets is that women have stronger associations than men do with the ritual and indulgence archetypes. This similarity may indicate that these archetypes are particularly successful at forging emotional connections with women and could be an interesting starting point for any brand looking to deepen bonds with women. It is also notable that women have higher rates of bonding, the middle phase of Brand Intimacy in all three markets, and in two markets (the US and UAE) women also have higher rates of fusing. Understanding why women have this stronger capacity would be useful to brands across all fifteen industries.
There is also significant variation and diversity in the findings. We saw a broad range of in the most intimate brands for women, with only Apple appearing in all three markets’ Top 10 lists. The industries women connect with also showed variety across markets, and with Dove, we saw how a brand can form different kinds of attachments with women across different geographies.
Taken together, these findings suggest some commonalities but also recognize considerable differences. These variations in Brand Intimacy among women in different countries challenge the notion that female consumers care only about certain industries, brands, or ideas. Would you have imagined that women in the UAE rate technology brands higher than do men? Or that Mexican women rank financial services brands higher than do men?
For a brand to be successful among women, emotion must clearly be leveraged, and women are receptive to building emotional connections with brands. However, marketers must understand that the way women build bonds, the archetypes they identify with, and the industries they connect with vary, and there are few universals today that apply to all women.
Read our detailed methodology here.
Check out our annual study and rankings of intimate brands. Visit our most recent rankings of intimate famous figures—BFF. Our Amazon best-selling book is available at all your favorite booksellers. Additionally, MBLM offers Custom Dashboards providing extensive data for brands included in its annual Brand Intimacy Study. To learn more about our Agency, Lab, and Platform, visit mblm.com.
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Read the results of our BFF study to find out which celebrities have built the strongest emotional bonds with Americans.