Maybe it’s the Internet and all the tools available at our fingertips now, or the fact that we’re more informed consumers today – or maybe it’s that the millennial generation is now the largest demographic out there. Something has changed in how we shop and what we accept when it comes to marketing these days - and it’s for the better.
It’s not so easy any more to tout yourself as the best and the leading or push unsupported claims – when research and the truth are only a finger touch away on the World Wide Web. This has become true for the human eye too. I don’t know about you but I can spot a photoshopped image or airbrush job in a heartbeat now. I know exactly what to look for (awkward shadows, uneven lines) to tell if a picture isn’t true.
So many brands are starting to listen. Pushing plus size, natural hair and beauty and even refusing to airbrush their photos.
No where is this perhaps more important than a teen girls’ clothing brand. It’s arguably one of the most delicate years when dealing with one’s self acceptance and confidence. One brand took a leap of faith and said they’d stop airbrushing those images a few years back and there’s since been a movement.
American Eagle lingerie brand, Aerie, said back in 2014, with a hashtag campaign, that it was going to stop retouching photos and take time to appreciate women for how they actually look. The campaign, #AerieREAL reportedly helped the company’s sales increase and puts it up against other popular lingerie brands like Victoria’s Secret which is still touting a much less realistic looking woman in their brands undergarments.
While the two brands may be targeting different markets and a different reason behind purchasing their goods, the message Aerie sends out by sticking by its word to keep things ‘real’ in its depiction of women - from differing body sizes to tattoos and birthmarks - and making self acceptance a key focus, is something consumers today are responding well to.
In more hashtag campaign fun, the company earlier this year also decided to take a bold step and include men in the conversation with #AerieMAN. This brand campaign branches off of its body positive marketing for women and focuses on not retouching men in underwear and swim garment photos too.
"We aren't afraid of being bold in how we engage our customers, whether through a video that makes you think twice, or challenging the norm in how a brand markets to men," said Chad Kessler, American Eagle Outfitters Global Brand President at the time of the announcement. "We are an all-inclusive brand and we know our male customers respond to humor. We look forward to continuing to innovate and evolve the American Eagle Outfitters product offerings."
This is both a fun and serious matter. American Eagle Outfitters also donated $25,000 to the National Eating Disorders Association – I don’t know about you, but they’ve certainly earned my attention.