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Is Gender-Based Marketing Out of Date?

Are you looking through an outdated lens when it comes to targeting consumers?

When it comes to targeting consumers, gender is often one of the most leveraged variables in developing marketing strategies. But is that wise? Moreover, does using gender to market your brand produce meaningful results? As it turns out, gender-based marketing is not a reliable or beneficial strategy for most companies. Below, we discuss why using gender to promote your products and services isn’t the best option.

Gender Lines Are Becoming Blurred

According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, nearly one in five U.S. adults know someone who goes by a gender-neutral pronoun.1 This means that about 18% of Americans personally know an individual who prefers a pronoun other than “he” or “she.” Younger adults are more likely than older adults to be familiar with the use of gender-neutral pronouns. This fact is of particular importance since millennials (ages 23 to 38) are the world’s most dominant consumers and have the greatest buying power at $200 billion.2

Is Gender-Based Marketing Out of Date?

There Are Other Variables That Are Far More Valuable

Marketing expert Gabby Barrios built an algorithm for statistical tournaments with her team at BCG to determine what variables make a difference when it comes to targeting and marketing to consumers. Roughly 100,000 tournaments were run around the world, including in countries where traditional gender roles are more pronounced. Of these 100,000 tournaments, gender came out as the top marketing variable only 5% of the time.3 This means that other variables—such as consumer behaviors, social activities, and income—produce more valuable results that drive effective marketing strategies and growth.

A Gender-Neutral Approach Turns a Profit

Buying habits are beginning to shift toward gender-neutral products. For instance, only 44% of 13- to 20-year-olds surveyed by JWT Intelligence reported that they always purchase clothes designed for their gender.4 And this is a trend brands are taking note of. For instance, in 2015 Target responded to consumer concerns for how they separate children’s toys by dropping gender-based labeling for these items in its stores. Fashion retailers are especially responsive to this movement toward neutrality, as they begin to produce more genderless lines and collections.

Gender Marketing Perpetuates Stereotypes and Causes Separation

Depicting stereotypical scenes of a husband struggling to clean the house or a woman unable to successfully park a car is damaging. In fact, the U.K.’s Advertising Standard Authority found this kind of messaging so harmful they passed a ruling that prohibits marketers from portraying these kinds of stereotypes.5 And ultimately, this shift in thinking is good for branding and marketing. That’s because these stereotypes promote inequality in society and limit people’s potential. The ban also considers how children are marketed to, especially when the content is focused on career ambition and the stereotypes that tend to separate boys and girls at a young age.

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Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS in Marketing degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


1Source: www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/09/05/gender-neutral-pronouns
2Source: www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/generational-marketing
3Source: www.ted.com/talks/gaby_barrios_why_gender_based_marketing_is_bad_for_business
4Source: http://therestlesscmo.com/post/the-future-of-gender-marketing
5Source: www.asa.org.uk/genderresearch.html

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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