In an age of increased gender fluidity, blurred gender roles, and "femvertising," it can be a minefield to market specifically to women—especially young women. I discovered some interesting takeaways firsthand when working on a contraceptives project aimed at that target audience. Here are some lessons I learned.

Marketers talk of Millennials—a group ranging from Malala Yousafzai to Miley Cyrus—and how they are a tricky group to target, especially when a gender-specific product is at the heart of the sell. After all, many young women don't want to be targeted by gender at all.

However, there are ways around those obstacles; they just require a more sensitive and thorough methodology to discover exactly who your audience is and what they will respond positively to. The best approach is to "walk in their shoes" before offering any solutions.

Essentially, by understanding your audience and connecting on a deep level, you'll benefit from using a more human-centered design approach. Then, based on your findings, you can start to capture the right attitude for the subject you're tackling, and you can plan everything from tone of voice to the overall message.

While I was working on a campaign aimed at connecting with hard-to-crack young women, I learned four ways to engage and get our positive message across to that group.

These four methods can be used across that demographic more generally.

1. Use design-research tools

Focus groups can quickly uncover consumers' reactions to an ad or product you might want to trial, but people may not be comfortable airing their emotions or needs—particularly on sensitive issues—in that type of environment.

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Stephanie Yung is design director at Smart Design, a strategic design company. When she's not helping brands establish their long-term vision, she is a design advocate for social impact and women's issues.

LinkedIn: Stephanie Yung