Sarah Rose 2018
From the moment we are born its frills for girls and force for boys. Everything is segregated, and we first see this at the toy store- pretty pink princesses for mummy and daddy’s precious angel and brawny blue action figures for their special little guy. When we enter adulthood and the work force, it becomes even more apparent that our lives are stereotyped again and again whether we like it or not. One area where this issue is clearly getting out of hand in the market place, the absurd world of gendered marketing. The theory is that dividing consumers into smaller groups is good for business and will contribute to driving the market up, but how damaging is this market segmentation really? Today I am here to tell you, as a concerned consumer myself, that this unacceptable form of marketing is unnecessary and without a doubt needs to stop. I will show you what it really costs to succumb to gendered marketing.
Pink for girls and blue for boys, that how it’s always been, right? Wrong, in fact it used to be the other way round. Pink was a stronger and more decided colour and suitable for boys, whilst blue, a more delicate and dainty colour was prettier for girls. Another significant difference was how children’s toys were marketed. Although the toy industry wasn’t teaming with pink princesses and the masculine action man, we can’t deny that the toys of yesteryear were deeply infused with gender stereotypes and heavily sexist. From about the 1920s to the 1960s, girl’s toys focused on domesticity and nurturing whilst boy’s toys promoted work in the industrial economy. However, these gender-coded toys- along with the advertisements, began to decline in the early 1970’s as a result of certain demographic shifts. There were now more women in the workforce and the marriage and fertility rates had dropped so playing upon gender stereotypes to sell toys was now becoming a risky strategy. Many ads in the 70s challenged traditional gender stereotypes and consumers now saw girls and boys playing with any and every toy. We seemed to be making progress. But today the marketing of toys, amongst other products, is more gendered than ever- we’ve gone backwards 50 years. During the 1980s, gender-neutral marketing receded and today, marketing relies less on explicit sexism and more on implicit gender cues such as colour and fantasy based gender roles- that’s where or princess and action hero come in. It’s not just children’s toys either, basic household items such as bread and toiletries now too have a gender. How have we let the market place be run like this? It is clear that something needs to change.
To understand the bizarre world of gendered marketing, you need to understand the psychology of the marketing world. A tactic frequently used particularly in gendered marketing is colour psychology, where humans associate different colours with different scenarios and meanings. Particular colours resonate with women more than men and vis-versa. Obviously, once the marketers got a hold of this information they immediately began implementing them in their campaigns. Soft lines, floral patterns and lighter colours are typically meant for women, whereas harder lines, darker colours and sciency type pictures are for men. Marketers get away with this without us knowing it because we stay in our section of a store and ignore anything that’s not obviously meant for us. Because there is no law or rules against marketers doing this, they can get away with marketing ridiculous and blatantly sexist products such as guyliner, brotox, mandles, Bic pens for her and bread for women. It is simply unacceptable that this form of marketing continues to be prevalent in the market place.
Some may argue that this is ridiculous, that the concept of gendered marketing is a myth, but I assure you it is all too real. Those that say “people can see past all that pink and blue, they can decide for themselves what the buy and choose to believe.” But as consumers, we all feel the need to conform, to buy something just because it has out gender on it. There’s really no difference for a lot of products; deodorants, Q tips, razors are typically the same exact products, same exact ingredients but in a different box with different verbiage and graphics- therefore making it ‘for men’ or ‘for women’. And the biggest victim here is the consumer who is paying more for a box of tissues that simply says ‘man-size’ or a packet of razors painted pink. So you see that it’s not a myth, it is a real issue that needs to be addressed and soon.
In conclusion, gendered marketing is a real issue, not one to be ignored. The great progress that we made in the 70s is all but gone, now covered up with pink princesses and blue action men. Marketers manipulate us so we buy the product made for our gender, it often costing more than necessary for a simple can of deodorant or bottle of shampoo. The tactics of gendered marketing used by companies are without a doubt unacceptable and clearly need to stop, otherwise we will get further and further away from an equal, gender-neutral market place for the generation of consumers to come.