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Shattering Gendered Marketing

Shattering Gendered Marketing

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In industries where products have been historically marketed based on gender, some brands are beginning to shun stereotypes and embrace neutrality

In a 1955 print ad, the household brand Lux presented a woman dressed in a sensible apron and pearl earrings, surrounded by a mountain of dishes. “Get out of the kitchen sooner!” read the text above her. An overlaid image depicted her husband and child relaxing outdoors. In another ad, released 31 years later in 1996, car manufacturer Daihatsu offered an image of a man driving a van full of smiling women below the words, “Picks up five times more women than a Lamborghini.” The logic behind such advertising, of course, is that women are in charge of housework and family care, while car purchases are left primarily to the men.

In today’s social climate, it seems unlikely that people would stand for such egregious stereotyping, but products such as dish soap and cars are still aimed at consumers based on gender demographics—brands are just subtler in their approach. For children, gender stereotyping is on full display in retail. A pink convertible or a doll might be listed for girls online or in stores, while a blue truck or a baseball bat may be labeled as boys’ toys. It’s a relatively modern phenomenon: According to an Atlantic article by sociology professor Elizabeth Sweet, less than 2% of toys were explicitly marketed to either boys or girls in Sears catalog ads in 1975. By 1995, gendered toys made up roughly half of the Sears catalog’s offerings. For adults, brands might aim targeted online ads for household products to women, while a sports equipment company might only portray men in their commercials.

But this pink and blue divide also persists because brands have traditionally operated on the belief that consumers are making purchasing decisions based on their gender. Marketing to a person’s gender not only risks alienating other potential consumers—ones who don’t conform to traditional gender roles or interests—but it also shows a failure by the company to mine for deeper insights about its audience.


To read the full article, click here: https://www.ama.org/marketing-news/shattering-gendered-marketing/

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