Let's be honest - is gender marketing still relevant?

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Before we dive deeper into the topic, it is essential to explain the definitions. Because here there are many important trifleswhich are mostly not even consciously perceived in everyday life. An important difference is especially the use of "sex" and "gender". The English term "gender" is not used to describe the biological, but rather the social gender. This describes aspects of gender identity that define a person within society and culture, beyond their purely biological sex characteristics. 

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Gender theory recognizes that gender exists on a continuum and that there is a Diversity of gender identities beyond male and female. In contrast, the English word "sex" for gender refers to the purely biological level, defined by physical sexual characteristics. Gender is primarily viewed as a binary category in which individuals are classified as either male or female.  

To have this distinction clearly in mind once again makes it immensely easier to understand the topic and this article.  

Marketing for man or woman! It's a super segmentation, isn't it? 

Traditional gender marketing refers to the targeting of marketing strategies toward specific gender groups. Companies adapt products, advertising and messages to traditional gender stereotypes to appeal to their clientele. This can lead to stereotypical ideas reinforced and gender roles cemented.

This gender-based marketing is based on the assumption that men and women behave differently and for this reason have a different Purchasing behavior. They would arrive at the purchase decision by a different route, would have different needs, and would communicate differently. Unfortunately, these assumptions are not based on psychological, social-analytical approaches to the subject, but are rather gender roles shaped by society thanks to.  

In classic gender marketing, society is divided or segmented into women, men, girls and boys. If, for example, a product has a female Target group is to reach, according to the outdated marketing approach, various strategies can be used to better appeal to "women". For women, pastel, delicate colors are then gladly used and an advertising slogan is added that promises a discreet and gentle solution to problems. For men, on the other hand, the colors are used to convey robustness, strength and dominance. These approaches are not modern marketing and definitely not good gender marketing! 

Classical gender marketing becomes very obvious in direct comparison and gender segmentation becomes clear.
Classical gender marketing becomes very obvious in direct comparison and gender segmentation becomes clear. (Image: linkedin.com)

From childhood on, we are made to believe through such advertising that a girl or a boy may only have this and that need, or like this and that. Our own power of decision is taken away.  

Outdated gender marketing began with pink-blue stereotyping. With the products of everyday life, attributions to gender were also sold in this way. But it is becoming increasingly apparent that this is very problematic. This binary marketing approach is not understood by many customers, and it also discriminates against all those individuals who define themselves as neither female nor male.

This implies that the conventional division exclusively into men and women is outdated is and should be approached in a different way. More recently, there has been a growing movement for gender-neutral marketingthat the Diversity of gender identities taken into account and addresses target groups in an open manner. 

You don't see it? Outdated gender marketing in action 

Often, when the topic of gender comes up, the discussion is waved away with the words, "It doesn't even happen anymore." That would be nice. But unfortunately, marketers still opt for marketing campaigns that build on, incorporate, or address stereotypes or role clichés. Stereotypes can be based on both the Exterior appearance as well as on Behaviors related. One example is the assertion that a woman "stores" out of passion, whereas a man "stores" out of necessity.

One advertisement where social conditioning can be quickly seen are ads or websites for "women's razors". Here, a woman is shown trying out her new razor on her legs. All well and good, but the leg was already hairless before the alleged shave. This suggests that society has defamed underarm and leg hair on women. Apparently so much so that the hair must not only be gone, but retouched and the leg must look surreally smooth and tanned. This conveys a standard that no man will ever achieve. Meanwhile, however, more "hair is shown". 

Gender marketing can determine not only product color and presentation, but also price.
Gender marketing can determine not only product color and presentation, but also price. (Image: dailymail.co.uk)

Unfortunately, gender marketing has also led to differential pricing based on gender. The Anti-Discrimination Agency reports that, on average, women have to pay more than men, especially for grooming products and services. Just because similar products are designed in "feminine shapes and hues" does not mean that those who choose them should pay more.

Gender marketing aimed at this is undesirable nowadays, meets with rejection from the clientele, especially in social media, and can quickly lead to a shitstorm.

Therefore, it is better not to do it! 

Instruction manual for getting started with modern marketing  

That's always easier said than done: because you can't see a faux pas until you've put your foot in it. Therefore, here comes a little guide on how to Avoid gross errors in your gender marketing can: 

  1. Take into account Gender neutrality from product development to marketing. Here, it is emphasized that neither female nor male dominance should be present in the various steps. This is because the more diverse individuals work on a product and are part of the team, the faster unintentional marketing mistakes are recognized and authentic advertising is created.  
  1. Use gender-sensitive language. Because this can make more people feel addressed and invited with one more word.  
  1. Customize your Buyer Persona sensitively to the changes. Also consider your company's values and the history of the product. Think about how you want to present your brand. Also consider questions like: What does femininity, masculinity or gender mean in the context of your product or company. If you gain a new perspective here, you can slowly incorporate it into the rest of your business.  
  1. Avoid binary thinking! While it may be a challenging adjustment, this should be considered especially if you are in the public eye. Emphasize Diversity and individuality. Open up to different gender identities and see that not all people, all women and men are the same. For example, you could include a diversity of individuals in your advertising, thus including more people.  
  1. Understand your target audience and stay above the current relevant topics informed in your industry. This gives you an advantage at all times and allows you to Marketing strategy adapt optimally.  
Create a buyer persona and consider the entire customer base.
Create a buyer persona and consider the entire customer base. (Image: leuchterag.ch)

However, it should also be addressed that segmentation by gender is for certain products a useful thing is. If you sell, among other things, a product made purely for one biological sex, such as pads or tampons, it is useless to advertise to a different target group. Through targeted segmentation, you can build a closer relationship with your customers, better address their problems and needs. Here gender marketing definitely makes sense, but it must be correctly applied be

It must not serve stereotypes, emphasize traditional behavior, or limit itself to classic "consumerism." 

Thumbs up or thumbs down for gender marketing?  

Our society is experiencing more and more "wokeness" on this topic, so it's important that you as a company become a part of that conversation as well. In general, it can be said that gender marketing is good as long as it is no sexism includes. However, it is important to take into account the change in gender awareness and the diversity of gender identities.

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Accordingly, the concept is moving toward gender-neutral marketing. So, gender marketing hasn't retired yet, but it's now wearing a trendy new hairstyle. So you can do marketing that is aimed at everyone and that makes everyone feel good.


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