Thursday, 7 August 2014

Issues Regarding Gendered Branding

 This is an article about issues to consider when branding targeting one gender. This raised some points I hadn't yet thought of and built on some things I have already been thinking about such as stereotypes and demeaning audiences with this.

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Building a brand means spending a lot of time determining who your target market is. For nearly every company or organization, that audience involves gender, and thus specialized marketing to attract that gender. You want to appeal to men’s or women’s interests, without alienating half of the population. It’s a difficult, complex thing to approach, which is why most companies align themselves somewhere in the middle rather than presenting stereotype-driven marketing. Different countries and cultures take a different path towards marketing to different genders, as well. For example, in Japan, most all packaging is designed and marketed to women, while in the Western world,even though women still do a majority of the shopping, brands are often marketed toward men. When you want to build you brand or market products to one gender or the other, there are some issues you need to keep in the back of your mind to avoid turning people off to what you’re selling.

Avoiding Pandering and Stereotypes

While certain people might like an aspect of gendered marketing, many companies go too far and experience backlash. Playing into stereotypes might sound like a good way to market a product, but more often than not, it will be met with strong criticism.
Take, for example, Motorola’s new phone advertisements for the Moto X. The company created two ads, one marketed toward men and one toward women. Each shows various gendered accessories that people from these demographics might use or own. For the men, things like a watch, keys, a dress shirt, and a tool are shown, while for women, things like makeup, candy, a yo-yo, a glitter-encrusted hat, and a pink watch are shown.

Needless to say, while people weren’t too upset about the men’s ad, the women’s ad did not go over so well.  The ad plays into stereotypes that women are only interested in superficialities—makeup, pink-and-purple accessories, etc. If a viewer guessed the age of the phone’s owner, they’d likely say younger than 20. For the men’s ad, however, it’s much more ambiguous—it could be a guy in his late teens or a more middle-aged man. The characterization of women in this ad alienates Motorola’s female audience by portraying them as interested in materialistic, superficial items. While both of the ads are a little out there, playing into stereotypes, the women’s ad was criticized more for presenting stereotypes as a marketing plan.
On the flip side, some ads play into a stereotype of men being childlike or lazy—think of pizza delivery ads where men order pizza instead of cooking for their kids, because of course they don’t know how to cook. These types of ads are a lot less common; though women are still big spenders, advertisers don’t want to irritate the so-called breadwinners, the ones bringing home the cash that their wives will spend.
If people think that your ads are demeaning or disrespectful, they won’t buy your product.

Crossing Over

Another element that businesses need to keep in mind when branding their products to genders is the ability for the product to still cross over and appeal to the opposite gender. For example, think of the Old Spice ads that advertised “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.” Of course, Old Spice is a product that by and large, only men use. However, in order to appeal to those spending the money and doing the shopping, the company appealed to women—the women who’d buy Old Spice for their husbands or boyfriends.
Likewise, it’s important that if you’re marketing a product toward women but still want to make money off of male buyers, men don’t feel put off by the product’s packaging or marketing. Men are more likely to reject so-called feminine brands than women are to reject masculine brands. Hair products are a great example of this—women won’t really mind if a product’s packaging looks a little more masculine, but put pink, purple, or other “girly” colors on the package, and men won’t want to buy it—regardless of what the product inside is.

Longevity and Credibility

Purchasing habits by different genders also plays a role in building longevity and credibility for a brand. Women don’t just buy a product or a brand—they “join” that brand. Think of how many women are loyal to a certain product or product line, versus men who are typically more easily swayed to buy something different, less expensive, or new. Women tend to feel more loyalty to a brand or product than men do, so it’s important to market toward the idea that you want more long-term customers. Appeal to their concerns, not just their needs.
Further, focus on the credibility of the genderingconstructs and representations of femininity and masculinity are constantly changing, so you should change your plans along with those ideas. Keeping people confident in the idea that yours is either a masculine or feminine brand is a tough job, one that requires a lot of revisions to marketing plans, but if your goal is to market toward one gender or the other, it’s something you have to do.
Gendered branding isn’t uncommon, but good gendered branding is—too often, companies miss the mark and end up alienating someone. When you’re making plans, make sure to get the opinion of plenty of people from that gender that you want to attract—test out your ads and your marketing plans and get feedback. This will help you create a strong brand and marketing plan that appeals to your target gender.
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The last points made in this article I find the most interesting. The point made about how constructs and representations of femininity and masculinity are constantly changing is interesting as this is something I think many products don't take into consideration, they work with very dated views and looks of femininity and masculinity which leads to the poor gendered branding that is so often seen, such as the bic for her pens. 

The point made about women being more loyal to brands is also very interesting and I would like to look into this some more and possibly see if there is any evidence to back up this claim. Things like this I feel are very important when targeting a specific audience such as gender. 

Whilst the discussion about stereotypes is something I have been looking at I hadn't thought about the cross overs before, but this really makes sense and I feel that again this is something to look into. It would be useful to look into some gender specific brands that have successfully done this cross over, as alienating other audiences would put the brands at risk of losing sales. This is interesting as where is the line where a product becomes too masculine or feminine, when aimed at that gender. 

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