What is gender marketing?

What is gender marketing?

Women and men have different life plans and make different decisions. – Role stereotype? – No! Studies prove that. Gender marketing emerged from this realization. But it has traps. – Find out in this article what gender marketing really means and how it can reform your approach to marketing.

Definition of gender marketing – that’s what it’s all about 

The term gender is on everyone’s lips. But often in other contexts. So here is the common marketing definition:

Gender marketing is an approach to the marketing of products and services , which on the one hand aims at development and manufacture. On the other hand, it is used to advertise and sell products and services. In doing so, traditional gender roles and stereotypes are not necessarily reinforced, but in some cases new developments and identity designs are taken into account, which emphasize different advantages for men or women through marketing . (Source: Wikipedia ) 

That sounds good: gender marketing as emphasizing different advantages. But here is also the nasty disadvantage of this good idea:

Do you really know what is beneficial to others?

If so, then certainly only through good knowledge of the personalities for whom one is formulating here. In other words: With marketing you can only successfully reach those you really know.    

If not? Then the same mistakes are made, again and again. Then you are subject to clichés and beliefs.

As W&V clearly postulates:

Gender marketing assumes that women and men have different consumer needs and make different purchasing decisions. One speaks of gender marketing when a company takes up gender specificity in its marketing strategies.

Caution is advised when implementing this gender specificity!

One example is the standardized depiction of advertising clips in the 1950s and 1960s. If the representation of gender roles was still perceived as amusing or coherent at the time, a shitstorm would be guaranteed today with so many gender clichés. 

Through the ages – good or bad?

Many examples show how close listening and analysis promise the success of gender marketing and how less close listening prevents it.

Mediamarkt and McDonalds both wanted to break up their male store image. Both tried to meet the demands of the female customers… 

  • The technology giant reached deep into the cliché box and created a women’s zone , which was intended to be a place for encounters and exchange in the middle of the market. An oasis, equipped with typically feminine colors and elements . – Women hated the idea of ​​a special zone . The prejudices broke the neck of the initiative.
  • The fast food giant is completely different. Through surveys and intensive analysis, products were found that were missing from the restaurant from a female point of view. This is how McCafé came into being, the success of which is based on the opinions and ways of thinking of the customers.

But is that why only women visit the café?

What do you say: do we need more gender marketing?

One question decides that:

Are there legitimate reasons to divide your product or service into gender lines? 

This means:

  • What is the product or service intended for – and 
  • which gender-specific needs can be distinguished? 

If you don’t find any specific differences in the needs and perception of your own product, you are doomed to end up in the cliché trap of gender marketing. If you still want to try it, you should rely on solid data rather than a gut feeling.

Otherwise you share an experience of the marketers at Edeka, who in 2013 divided their Bratwurst packs into women’s and men’s sausages. Grilling for women was forcibly emancipated.
Packaging in pastel or black and arguments such as strongly seasoned versus low-fat and tender emphasize the alleged interests. They eventually exploded publicly in the face of the minds behind this meager attempt at marketing.

For Edeka, social media was then about the sausage . 

4 dimensions in gender marketing

The Gillette brand knows that body care is subject to a very individual approach, which is also influenced by our society’s morality and role clichés. 

Gillette therefore listens very carefully to the different voices of different consumers* and from this successfully derives the design and presentation of its various product lines for razors: shaving as intimate care or everyday functionality. 

The company now describes this step as future-proof . All four starting points of successful gender marketing were and are used in the implementation. Because the gender aspect is a complex principle  

  • the product 
  • the ambassadors, doers, deputies, before and after
  • the point of sale including design 
  • as well as addressing them via marketing. 

We wonder, will Gillette and other companies continue to read the signs of the times? 

Diversity instead of duality and consideration for different perceptions

In a way, reality has overtaken the gender debate. While there is still a lot of talk about man and woman, this division itself is becoming a binary cliché. On the other hand, there are non-binary life plans.

Above all, the generation that is just growing up (13 – 20 years) lives gender diversity and no longer regards gender as a fundamental fork in the way of life.

This means that the differences between male and female are determined less and less by biological sex. More and more through social conditions, values ​​and the perception of the living environment. This is what future consumers believe in.

Marketing that takes different perceptions into account is therefore correct.

Post-gender marketing: Everything is changing

From now on, more and more offers, brands and product designs will be in demand that move beyond the classic duality. Manufacturers respond to the new, non-binary needs with post-gender marketing. 

Their products are characterized by a high degree of modifiability, customization and functionality, rather than gendered design for men and women. Offers that are free of traditional gender connotations can already be found in the fashion industry, in the toy or technology sector as well as in various services: 

  • Professor Susanne Stark, an expert in marketing and gender at the Bochum University of Applied Sciences, refers to the Hornbach hardware store chain as a positive example. The marketing shows modern men and women doing realistic handicrafts.
  • Progressive hair salons are increasingly advertising non-binary prices based solely on the service provided and not the gender of the customer. Beyond gender design, this concept addresses the customer as an individual – and not as a woman or man.

This individual approach is an idea that is gaining ground. And as can be shown, it is very related to the basic ideas of inbound marketing.

The next step? Establish an individual approach with personas

Addressing target groups and desired customers individually – the inbound marketing idea developed from this claim. Gender marketing emerged in a similar way and can have a significant impact on your online marketing. This affects various areas, above all the

  • customer journey
  • customer experience
  • corporate identity 
  • or usability

Roughly speaking, there is an online opportunity to meet existing, new and desired customers very individually. That means: Adapting shopping experiences… – Acknowledging differences… – Cultivating community and dialogue… – Gender diversity is actually possible here.

Inbound marketing goes beyond the classic target group. Here the model of an ideal client is called a persona:

Personas are models based on real insights, surveys, behavior patterns, known motivations and goals of customers. 

Even more: In contrast to a target group, a buyer persona has a concrete face.

Personas therefore make addressing individuals more tangible. However, personas need a solid base of facts. Therefore, a persona will never be finished or completed . People change, so their description must change too.

This checklist shows you how to define the core of your personas .

One danger remains:  

  • 88 percent of male and 76 percent of female marketers believe that they would avoid gender stereotypes when advertising. A survey of consumers showed the opposite. Marketers and advertisers believe that they don’t reproduce outdated clichés, but they do exactly that in their everyday work.
    (Source: KANTAR – Study AdReaction – Getting Gender Right ) 

The recognition of human individuality is not enough. Marketing needs a standard if it is not to miss its target audience. The solution: Personas make other ways of thinking more comprehensible and understandable. They offer a guide to align your own thinking with that of potential customers.    


Gender marketing is complex, but it does justice to the growing complexity of modern life. Because role clichés and stereotypes are subject to change, dissolve and mix. A new, changed gender perception shapes society today and in the future. Marketing is therefore faced with the challenge of taking more gender diversity into account and being able to use fewer clichés. 

Nevertheless, gender marketing can be a very promising concept, provided the prerequisites are right:

  1. If the product does not offer any differentiated advantages, it is also not suitable for gender marketing. In addition, those responsible must be careful not to use clichés in order not to alienate potential customers.
  2. The demands and wishes of the customers must be determined as precisely as possible in advance. This is the only way to decide whether an advertising campaign specifically geared to gender makes sense at all. 
  3. Anyone interested in their own gender marketing 

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