‘Chick Beer’ for Women? Why Gender Marketing Repels More Than Sells – Harvard Business School Working Knowledge

Why do these gender appeals alienate the very audience they aim to attract? People resist being categorized—or made to feel like they are unwillingly reduced to a single identity—particularly when the product they’re being nudged toward evokes a stereotype about their gender.

Suggesting that women will clamor for a product wrapped in pink packaging just because some marketer assumes that all women love pink can come across as downright insulting.

…”There’s something very off-putting about feeling like you’re being reduced to a single category of membership.”

…“The moment you affix a gender identity label on the higher-value button, we see that people’s preference for the button goes down, suggesting that women were actually avoiding the very item that was trying to appeal to them,” Kim says.

In another study, the research team asked one group of participants to choose either a green or purple calculator to complete math problems, while in another group, they labeled purple calculators “for men” for male participants and “for women” for females. Among female participants, 51 percent chose the purple calculator when it had no gender labels, whereas significantly fewer, 24 percent, chose the purple one when it was labeled “for women.”

‘Chick Beer’ for Women? Why Gender Marketing Repels More Than Sells – Harvard Business School Working Knowledge

The author misses an obvious scenario for men choosing the gendered calculator: to choose the alternative was to choose one that was -by default- for women.


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