DO GENDER STEREOTYPES STILL HAVE A ROLL IN MARKETING?
I recall my first lecture in statistics in my first year of university. The lecturer, a real identity in the Department of Psychology, started opened his lecture – ‘ladies and gentlemen, be clear, men and women are not equal’.
While he was clearly throwing a grenade into a female dominated lecture hall – this lecture was, of course also stating a fact. Indeed, as he went on to say – no two people are equal, given that equal implies – the same – and no tow people are the same.
That is not to deny of course the importance of equality of opportunity, which by the way he clearly supported.
The fact is, not two people are the same – and men and women are different. Men and women have many similarities, and their access to equality of opportunity should be one of them, but, they also have very different needs. Men, for example have greater need for sturdy razor blades and women have a greater need for tampons.
There is also considerable evidence to suggest that women look for different things in a range of products and services – a fact well exploited by many (often unethical) marketers. Consider – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JDmb_f3E2c . As sad as some of this marketing clearly is – it seems to work.
That aside – gender roles are changing, gender expectations are changing and gender identity is changing. There was a time when there was a lot more clarity – a time when:
- Girls wore pink and boys wore blue.
- Women looked after the house and men built the house.
- Boys played football and girls played netball.
The world is no longer this black and white. In 2015, the world is so much more blurred. Today the world is so much more confused.
Adding to this confusion:
- Some consumers still identify with these stereotypes.
- Some consumers are ambivalent to these stereotypes.
- Some consumers are offended by these stereotypes.
Clearly this makes it a lot more difficult for marketers trying to develop the optimal product, brand, creative execution and media strategy.
The expectations of men and women vary more than they ever have. The need for marketers to deal with this variability is greater than it ever was – and the chances are it will get even greater and even more difficult as diversity increases.
Can a campaign now feature girls in pink and boys in blue, boys building and girls cleaning, or boys playing ‘boy’s sport’ and women playing ‘girl’s sport’. Is this even relevant anymore and who will you offend if you do this.
Now more than ever, marketers need to:
- Understand gender differences, how they are manifested and how they can be represented.
- Focus on psychographics ahead of demographics – including gender.
- Deliver the certainty that their product will deliver regardless of gender.
Some products can be marketed differently to each gender, while others can and should not be marketed differently. What is more, the market determines which is which.
The personality and values of an individual are far more important than their gender and arguably les impacted by their gender than ever.
In important for every consumer to feel that in buying a particular product or service there will come with it certainty in delivery and peer acceptance. Consumers feel uncomfortable outside of the norm.