Gender stereotypes; a money-making scheme or just plain smart?

Gender stereotypes have been around for years; it’s no secret. But are consumers really aware of what’s going on, and that they are commonly falling into a ‘marketing trap’, buying products based on gender segmentation? Yes, you heard me right – I’m not just talking about the same children’s toy in blue or pink. I’m talking about the exact same chocolate treat, pen and dry cleaning service, being charged differently between genders.

In 2012, Bic release the range “Bic for Her”, which was a product targeted specifically to women, coming in pink and  purple, with slightly different grips for her ‘delicate hands’ and even a few diamantes to pretty the pen up. Consumers picked up on what seemed like gender discrimination for the product, outraged by the excessive markup of 70% more than equivalent non-gendered products.

Want more examples? Check out this video featured in Business Insider Australia for a comparison on a number of identical products between men and women (The Daily Share, 2015).

We often see gender pricing as ‘against’ women, with higher prices for the feminine version of products than for men. While this argument stems into a deeper ‘women’s tax’ issue, highlighted by recent legal action on taxed tampons, the greater question still stands.

Is marketing to different genders a fair tactic?

gender-eggs

A lot of consumers might think that they are getting ripped off by marketers employing segmentation tactics. I mean really – these eggs ARE eggxactly the same.

 

But Kinder Surprise’s limited edition pink and 01-kinder
blue eggs are a recent example of gender marketing that (mostly) makes sense. The company have taken a little of the surprise out of these products by providing a visual guide to parents, so that they can make a better decision about which product will suit their child more; dolls or toy cars. The firm says their market research suggested 66% of parents thought it was a great idea. Taking away the typical hype over gender stereotypes, we are left with a product that better targets each segment of the market, ensuring that kiddies will be left more satisfied with the toy that they find in their chocolate.

In the adult world, you don’t hear anyone complaining that they were given an Indonesian destination magazine while on a plane to Bali, or that all of the chocolate bars in a two dollar shop were $2 or less.  No. Segmentation is merely the process of sorting customers into groups with common interests and needs, allowing a company to target them in a tailored and cost effective way (Iacobucci, 2014). After all, you can’t be everything to everyone.

The benefit of market segmentation has been proven time and time again in industry. If the company targets the mass market, consumers won’t necessarily pay attention, they’ll also experience low satisfaction and connectivity with the brand (Iacobucci, 2014). On the other end of the scale is one-to-one marketing, with a target segment size of just one, which is generally not a profitable methodology as customization costs for the product and/or marketing techniques are high. In contrast, when you can satisfy the specific needs of a selection of customers, you will sell more product, ideally, making more money.

Many companies take the approach that not all customers are the same,  and should therefore not receive a one-size-fits-all marketing strategy. So if the Razor blade that has a slightly different grip and a maneuverable shaver head costs a little more to produce, why shouldn’t it be priced to reflect that? The pink packaging is just a clear indicator that the product is for women, not men, as is the likely curvaceous text font and floral markings; people just don’t actively notice them as much.

marketing-segmentation-bases1There are plenty of other market segments out there that can be used other than gender. Take geography, other demographics, personality, and behaviour at the top level. Or drill down into value systems, relationships and sports teams to break down the segment even further. There are a limitless range of market segments that can be unveiled; it is the marketers job to determine which segments are large enough to be cost effective, differ sufficiently from other market segments, and will react in a homogeneous way to segment advertising (Proctor 2000).

Yep, we all benefit from segmentation

So really, when we aren’t taking offence, we consumers really do benefit from such segmentation tactics. Who doesn’t want a product that suits their needs? Perhaps companies should try marketing to segments with a little less of the gender stereotype in their campaign to avoid aggravating the masses. But let’s be honest, the consumer could also be a little less offended by the use of gender as a market segment.

 

 

Author paijeterrell; Student ID: 900192578; pterrell@deakin.edu.au

 

Reference List:

Forbes 2012, Bic For Her: What They Were Actually Thinking (As Told By A Man Who Worked On Tampons),  retrieved 09 April 2016,<http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidvinjamuri/2012/08/30/bic-for-her-what-they-were-actually-thinking-as-told-by-a-man-who-worked-on-tampons/#3b05172f270c>.

Iacobucci, D 2014, ‘Chapter 3, Segmentation’ Marketing Management (MM), 4th Edition, Cenage Learning, Mason.

Independent 2013, Kinder Surprise in stereotyping row over pink and blue eggs, retrieved 10 April 2016, <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/kinder-surprise-in-stereotyping-row-over-pink-and-blue-eggs-8747331.html>.

Market Watch 2016, Should women have to pay tax on tampons?, retrieved 09 April 2016, <http://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-is-how-much-the-tampon-tax-costs-women-2016-03-24>.

Proctor, T 2000, ‘Chapter Ten: Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning’, Strategic Marketing, pp. 188-211, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 April 2016.

Yes, the ‘Women’s Tax’ is a very real thing 2015, YouTube, The Daily Share, retrieved 09 April 2016, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=22&v=habrEoHeDpI>.

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