Accurately Portraying Diverse Women and Girls Delivers Significant Sales Lift for Brands, IRI and SeeHer Extended Study Shows

Across gender, language, race and ethnicity, ads with high gender equality metrics scores overall delivered 60% improved sales performance

IRI, a fast-growing, global leader in innovative solutions and services for consumer, retail and media companies, today released findings from its 2021 GEM® Lift Study in partnership with SeeHer, the largest global movement for accurate representation of women and girls in advertising and media. The study analyzed the social and financial incentives associated with the depiction of women and girls — across language and race and ethnicity — in advertising campaigns to determine if an accurate and positive portrayal of women in advertising could drive incremental sales lift and impact consumer behavior.

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“The GEM metric is an increasingly important dimension for evaluating ads for gender equality”

The study linked the depiction of women to offline sales by leveraging SeeHer’s GEM (Gender Equality Measure) score, an index representing consumer reaction to the depiction of women in advertising and programming, with IRI’s media measurement and optimization solution, IRI Lift™. The 2021 study measured 29 ads across six brands representing food, beverage, beauty, health and home care categories and 837 aired programs across platforms.

Key findings of the study include:

  • The bar is rising. The baseline GEM score for brands to see an incremental sales lift was increased to 106 in the 2021 study, compared with a baseline of 100 in the 2019 study. This change reflects a raising of the bar in terms of representation across media of diverse women, indicating the movement to more accurately portray women and girls is both enhancing representation and translating to more meaningful growth for marketers.
  • Doing well by doing good. Ads with GEM scores above the baseline overall delivered 60% improved sales performance on average across gender, language, race and ethnicity.
  • An Intersectional Lens Delivers Sales Performance. Creatives that meet or exceed GEM baseline saw sales lift increase for Black women by 80% and 41% for Hispanic women.
  • Men Are Allies. Equality also is an important issue for men, with 73% citing it “personally important1.” Results show that accurate portrayal of women leads to a 120% sales lift among Hispanic men and a 196% lift among Black men.

“The results of our 2021 study show a clear and significant sales lift for ads that accurately portray diverse women, proving that meeting consumers’ rising expectations of gender equality in advertising is critical for brands seeking growth,” commented Jennifer Pelino, executive vice president of Global Media Solutions for IRI. “IRI is pleased to have conducted this significant piece of research along with the ANA. Equality starts with cultural perceptions and media plays a key role in ensuring appropriate character depiction, but quantitative evaluation is key to moving the industry in an upward direction.”

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