Why Gender Based Marketing Should be Reconsidered

Treating either women or men as a homogeneous group is nonsensical. The demographics of “male” and “female” cover a broad spectrum and must be segmented to market effectively. Without taking too much into consideration, women could be split into some basic categories that require diverse marketing approaches. Consider, for example, stay-at-home moms, working moms, and non-moms. Women in these groups may have similar needs in regards to daycare or service contractors and vastly different needs in choices of restaurants. Single dads and single men may have similar needs regarding finding a veterinarian and completely opposite needs when it comes to purchasing a car. And there are any number of permutations and combinations of subgroups that can be made within the general groupings of male and female.

We need to move away from telling people how members of a specific gender should act or look. In 2016, Unilever found that 50% of ads showed a negative stereotype of women. Many female-centered ads come across as offensive or patronizing to a female audience. Changing the color to pink doesn’t automatically make anything more appropriate. However, stereotyping is not reserved for women in the field of marketing. Men, for the most part, have been marketed to on three themes – manly men, arrogant and insensitive men, and the idea that sex sells.

While advertising is not the only influence, it certainly impacts society’s views on gender roles. The advertising industry has concerns that stereotyped gender norms negatively impact children. This has led the Advertising Standards Authority to work on new rules to combat issues, especially when ads ridicule people for not conforming to traditional gender roles. Their focus includes the objectification and sexualization of women and girls, and the negative portrayal of either gender in relation to something that is traditionally stereotyped to the other gender.

Businesses should have a basic understanding of which demographics their products or services lend themselves to. You don’t need to create a separate brand for each gender. You can make your brand appeal to each in different ways. Consider how your specific products or services fill needs or solve problems for men and women and show those benefits instead.

While, in general, there is a strong demand for equality, there are fundamental gender differences to consider. Avoid stereotypes but acknowledge psychological differences that exist – understand how different people interpret and react to messages. Instead of generalizing an entire gender, show respect for the diversity that lies within each. Consider who are the individuals and who are the subgroups. Your marketing goal should be to make the segment to which you are marketing feel amazing about themselves or confident about how your product or service will meet their need.

Ads that are heavily gender focused may miss future buyers. Gender stereotypes should be abandoned for approaches that are simply clever and unique. Ads should be funny, intelligent, and memorable with messages that are respectful and relevant. Know that you can’t appeal to all consumers all the time. Understand what your target audience wants and needs, know how they reach their purchasing decisions, and use your marketing campaigns to appeal to those aspects.

That being said, there are some male/female comparisons agreed upon within the industry with some of those informed opinions being backed by research data. The key is to use the information to create messaging that is positive and that communicates how your products or services will meet the needs of the consumer, regardless of his or her gender.

Women will buy brands aimed toward men or women but men rarely buy brands marketed towards women. Women pay little attention to gender focus and look more for efficiency and utility while men tend to buy products that are male focused, relying more strongly on gender perceptions.

More than twice the number of men download mobile apps for the businesses they frequent versus women, and men are more likely to respond to mobile ads by making purchases through those apps.

Men prefer known brands and products while women are more prone to be comparison shoppers and to look for a bargain.

Women want all of the information and want you to descriptively explain what products do. Men prefer fewer details and are interested in a product’s technical specifications.

Men want concrete information and data – they are interested in making a transaction happen. Women are looking for comprehensive data and an emotional connection - they want to build a relationship.

Fluent found marketing to have a greater impact on male purchase behavior than that of females. They found men to be more influenced by billboards, radio ads, and online video ads.

Email campaigns work better with female consumers as male shoppers prefer to look for and find solutions on the Internet.

There is a difference in social platforms preferred. Men use LinkedIn, Google plus, YouTube, and Reddit more often while women are more likely to use Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

eMarketer found that 90% of women consider their significant other when making substantial purchases.

It has been found that both men and women prefer gender-neutral marketing messages. If your campaign can be gender neutral, you are better off selling the product and its benefits than focusing your message towards either men or women. A fabulous example of this is the video Airbnb used in a marketing campaign. Their goal was not only to promote Airbnb but also to show support for acceptance of all people regardless of where they come from (and gender identity). Airbnb was able to reinforce positive brand perceptions while commenting on an important issue. Marketing is most effective when if focuses on customer needs, not their gender. More progressive marketing is the predicted trend for 2018, moving further and further away from traditional stereotypes.

Real Business recommends asking yourself the following:

Does this campaign use or exploit any stereotypes?

If so – in a positive or a negative way?

How would female customers respond to this material?

How would male customers respond?

If there is a difference, why and what does that show?

What message does this send about our brand, and is it consistent with our values?

And it goes without saying, when marketing towards niche-specific segments, know what you are talking about! For more insight about how to best market your products and services, contact us today at Strategy Driven Marketing.