Grayce & Co and Beacon Insight Find in Qualitative Research Study that Women are More Complex and Paradoxical than Ever, with Insights on Impact on Brand Relations

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80% of women say they don't trust brands. New research conducted by marketing agency Grayce & Co, and qualitative research firm Beacon Insight, indicates that in order to better reach and engage women through messaging, products and services, we must first understand that they resist binary descriptors, are multidimensional, even paradoxical, and have a fluid definition of self.

Grayce & Co, in partnership with the qualitative market research firm Beacon Insight, released today “The New Fashioned Woman”, containing the results of research on the nuanced, paradoxical values of today’s New Fashioned woman. The research was also supported by Heartbeat AI, a female-founded sentiment analysis firm, and technology platform 20-20 Research.

The research seeks to understand the Millennial woman and how brands can drive unparalleled value in her life, the community and the world. Learning indicates that today’s young women resist binary descriptors, are multidimensional, even paradoxical, and have a fluid definition of self. It also reveals five key paradoxes that define the resilient, self-empowered New Fashioned woman:

1. She is more aware of the bleak reality of our country, but less worried about it.
Despite increased awareness of the bleak circumstances (in the US in particular), the New Fashioned woman is less worried about the future because she recognizes the power she has to effect change. She is significantly less worried and fearful - nearly 30 percent have a positive outlook on the world (up from 13.5 percent in 2016). And in light of chaos and turmoil in the world, the New Fashioned woman is intensely positive and optimistic when it comes to her own future.

2. She wants to be sexy, but not sexualized.
She wants to feel sexy, but not sexualized. The New Fashioned woman’s sexuality is highly self-defined. She does not wish to be sexualized nor to be seen as asexual. In fact, she is proud to have a healthy sex life. Women have more partners, and are more experimental sexually. Additionally, the New Fashioned woman’s sexuality is extremely fluid, with many women identifying as bisexual and pansexuality - “gender blindness” associated with being attracted to someone regardless of gender or sex - flooding cultural consciousness with public figures like Miley Cyrus, Angel Haze, Jazz Jennings, Sia, Mary Gonzalez, and Sophie B. Hawkins openly claiming their pansexuality.

3. She is fiercely independent, but also wants to be dependent.
She is fiercely independent, but wants to be part of an interdependent community. She craves authentic connection. She is also more “connected” and reliant on technology than any other generation. When asked what is most important in their lives and what they could not live without, 100 percent mention the importance of family & friends. Yet 80 percent also feel misunderstood by others including marketers, brands, and society in general. 90 percent of New Fashioned women dislike large corporations, and yet they all realize they would like to depend on them and even love some of them - as long as they fit with their values and lifestyles.

4. She feels in charge, but also sees obstacles outside her control.
The New Fashioned woman feels in charge but recognizes there are obstacles beyond her control. She is fully cognizant of barriers she faces such as sexism and job market challenges but remains optimistic. She puts her career and/or personal development ahead of marriage. She’s inspired by possibility, is experimenting with life and wants to live outside her comfort zone - in fact, many female travelers looking to explore abroad solo. Per the research, 100 percent of women stated that being non-conformist and finding their own path is important, but, they still want to feel like they belong and can function in current society. 50 percent mention that ongoing learning and growth is a top value. 100 percent value career or pursuing a degree to have a career.

5. She values holistic wellbeing, but struggles to stay healthy.
She values holistic well-being, but struggles to stay healthy. The New Fashioned woman values her health and prioritizes exercise as a means of self care, not as a form of body manipulation. However, while 60 percent state that health and holistic wellbeing are essential, they struggle to find time and energy to manage their health and wellbeing.

These paradoxes result in a list of 15 key takeaways of what women want from brands in their own words, which can be found in a full report at

Research was comprised of 16 in-depth interviews across the US, with women in the 18-31 age range, along with three Heartbeat pulses with 600 women each for a total sample size of nearly 2,000 women. Beacon Insight will present the research at IIEX North America; Sentiment, Emotional and Behavioral Analytics & AI Symposium (SEBA); SW Insights Association; and ESOMAR Global Qualitative.

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Kathleen Griffith
Grayce & Co
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