Gender-Biased Marketing Strategies: All That It’s Cracked Up to Be?
Dr. Pepper 10 – “Only 10 MANL Y calories…it’s not for women.”
Chick Beer – “Witness the Chickness!”
Skinnygirl Cocktails – “Drink Like a Lady”
Ruffles Ultimate Potato Chips and Dips – “An unapologetic bro-centric snack with deeper ridges and real pieces of meat.”
Looking at these well-known brands, it’s quite obvious that gender-stereotyping is an ongoing trend for food and drink. But is that a good thing or bad thing? Sure, men and women have both been stereotyped by the marketing/advertising world for years—beer commercials are usually filled with guys drinking the “wrong” beer in a bar while trying to pick up a woman. Insert the “wing man” who gives him the “right beer” and voila! The woman is now interested in this obviously “cool” guy that drinks a “cool” beer. And marketing doesn’t leave out the female crowd, either. Turn on any channel and you’ll see yogurt commercials, specifically Activia, aimed at “real women” to discover what they’ve been “missing.” Their website includes facts, inspirational quotes, and “Real Women, Real Stories.” Not one man is featured on the website. (I guess the marketing team figured men don’t like yogurt filled with probiotics?) No! Men (obviously) love big beefy, juicy hamburgers, hearty steaks…there’s even a hot sauce in Canada named “Mansauce”! According to the brand, it claims to be “the manliest condiment…ever.” (Wondering what makes a condiment the manliest? Me too.) But according to Company partner Chris Galvin, these “manly” ingredients include jalapenos and banana peppers: “stuff that’s typically associated with men.” (Uh, sorry, but this gal is a jalapeno-lover, too…can I get some Mansauce, or is it against the rules?)
Well-known chefs and publications are even getting into the gender-biased food game. It all started with the “queen” of food and entertainment, Martha Stewart, whose publication has always had a focus towards women. Her empire has gained her millions of fans; yet, the majority of those are women who love to create beautiful cakes, test out interesting new recipes, and build tasty cocktails for bridal/baby showers. Another example is Paula Deen. While her down-home Southern-style cooking is loved by all, Deen’s sons are now getting into the game as well. They have now started a quarterly special-interest publication, Deen Bros Good Cooking, which, while Mrs. Deen claims is aimed at a “dual audience”, its focus is expected to have strong appeal with men. Even Reader’s Digest Association has launched a site called Mantestedrecipes.com. Suzanne Grimes, president of U.S. Affinities, RDA, said research found that most men like to cook but 70 percent prefer a male-tailored site when it comes to food. “They approach cooking differently from the way women do,” she said. “It suggested we should build something just for them.”
Differences in Marketing Towards Men and Women
Why does gender-biased marketing exist?
- Communication. Men prefer having the information up front and providing background information later, while women prefer background information in terms of how it might be beneficial in the future. Essentially, men want the facts straight up, while women want an emotional context she can relate to.
- Differences in Decision-Making. Men tend to make decisions based on a process of elimination. Key factors seem to matter the most when deciding on a product, thereby allowing them to eliminate products that lack those qualities. Women, on the other hand, tend to look at the overall picture before making a decision.
- Gender Identification. Men are much more concerned with products conveying gender perceptions then women; they tend to shy away from anything that would convey femininity. In a recent series of studies done in Britain and the U.S., it was found that foods such as steak, hamburgers and hot dogs were identified as “boy foods,” and that ordering other food was “considered wimpy.” Yet, when it comes to women, they don’t seem to care about gender identification. Thus, the confusion among many women when the trend among alcoholic drinks geared towards the female gender began. Most women just don’t care.
Should We Care About Gender-Bias Stereotypes?
While there may be physiological reasons as to why males and females tend to pick certain products over others, many consumers are offended by some of the stereotypical food and drinks that are being marketing toward only women or only men. Take Chick Beer, for instance. The light beer is packaged in a pink and black polka-dot six-pack “purse”, with the bottle label designed as a little black dress. Shazz Lewis, Founder of Chick Beer, told the Village Voice, “I wanted to use pink and black and do something extremely iconic (by depicting it using an image of) a purse and a little black dress. I wanted it to be fun and sexy and I wanted people to have a good time with it. Beer’s about fun.”
Okay, stop. Many women agree that beer is fun, including myself. But many women don’t depict themselves as Paris Hilton when going out and having fun with their friends; they want a nice, craft beer; heck, maybe they’re even wearing a ratty t-shirt with jeans!
Then there’s the new Dr. Pepper Ten and how it’s ‘not for women’. The ad campaign has decided that in order to appeal to men, it must make the can gunmetal grey with bullets, TV commercials featuring huge guys fighting snakes and shooting lasers in the jungle, and a Facebook page for men ONLY; it has an app that allows it to exclude women from entering the site, which includes shooting games and a “man quiz”.
Jim Trebilcock, executive vice president of marketing for Dr. Pepper, said he’s not worried about the campaign driving women customers away from the brand. The drink and ad campaign was tested in six markets across the country and about 40 percent of people who tried the drink were women.
“Women get the joke,” he said.
But do they really? Time will only tell.