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Gender Marketing: Should Marketers Shape or Shatter Stereotypes?

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For years, the world has commonly operated ads based on gender-tailored stereotypes. Women are often paired with products meant for the kitchen, while men are spotted with more physically demanding activities. But as society continues to progress, many industries are starting to change and challenge the norms around gender bias and sexuality. 

Gender equality has become a crucial factor within today’s consumer culture. Businesses and brands are revamping their strategies to influence buyers’ purchasing decisions. Instead of targeting a specific gender in their marketing, companies are constantly looking into breaking stereotypes.

gender marketing, what is gender marketing, breaking gender stereotypes

What is Gender Marketing?

Gender marketing segregates target audiences into men and women, tailoring messages to assumed gender preferences based on societal norms and assumptions about behavior and interests. For example, young boys are typically marketed toys like robots and cars, while girls will be targeted for dolls and stuff toys.

These marketing stereotypes date back centuries to when it was believed that men and women could only fulfill specific roles. But as the world slowly shifts away from these traditional norms, markets have also shifted their approaches to cater to new needs and demands. 

How Does Gender Matter in Marketing?

For many marketers, gender is typically considered a major factor when deciding on new campaigns and products. Based on how a message is delivered, it can positively or negatively impact the ideals and attitudes of your target audience. These can change your customers’ views of your brand and how they interact with you. 

While more people are beginning to prefer gender-neutral advertising, some companies can still become successful using this tactic. But this is usually only the case for those who specialize in a service needed by a specific gender. 

Today’s Facts and Statistics on Gender Marketing

Many Millennials and Gen Zs are swaying away from traditional gender roles and embracing new concepts beyond identifying as a man or woman. Here are some statistics that show gender’s impact on marketing. 

  • 50% of millennials consider gender as a spectrum. (Huffpost)

Some millennials believe that there are people that can fall outside the spectrum of conventional categories. As a consumer, some marketing messages that present gender stereotypes can be considered offensive. It also places the organization that delivers this marketing in a negative light. 

Younger people today are embracing the concept of gender nonconformity, where people can be beyond male or female. It brings light to a wider form of expressionism where everyone can choose to be in whatever spectrum they identify with. These include bi-gender, non-binary, transgender, and more. 

  • In 2018, a survey found that 79% of parents want their children to act against gender stereotypes. (Semantic Scholar)

Respondents believed that children should be exposed to a gender-neutral environment as much as possible. The process can help shield them from gender stereotypes that may negatively alter how they see themselves and others around them. The kids are then able to express how they feel without hesitation. 

Many brands known to produce gendered products are moving towards new approaches in how they deliver their messages. But because a lot of consumers know a specific brand based on its gendered products, it becomes harder to identify if they are really rejecting gender stereotypes or not. 

  • 85% of women feel like gendered advertising needs to catch up with the current trends when depicting them. (BusinessDIT)

Modern women have come a long way while accomplishing many feats in all industries. Yet they continue to feel like they aren’t represented fairly enough when it comes to how they are portrayed in the media. Beyond their gender, more women want to feel empowered and treated like equals on all levels.

Does Gender Marketing Repel or Sell? The Pros and Cons

Gender marketing can be off-putting with many modern audiences today. But there are a number of reasons marketing agencies continue to use these strategies. Take a look at the pros and cons of this approach. 


  • Sells a variety of products to a specific gender

Targeting a specific audience allows you to tap into a niche that can get your brand recognized. It can also be easier to develop a loyal consumer base where you can understand their needs more accurately. 

  • Brand recognition

Gender marketing can earn you the bias of a specific demographic. For example, Axe body spray is known to be a brand that specializes in men’s deodorants and scents. While they also sell products made for women, the business has gained recognition for its experience with the niche.

  • Targets the particular needs of the consumer 

Some brands specialize in providing products and services to a specific gender need. A few examples can include different types of medicines, hygiene products, and even support tools. In this case, people are more likely to buy from businesses with expertise in the issue. 


  • Perpetuates limiting gender roles, ideals, and stereotypes

Those that don’t agree with gender stereotypes may not appreciate brands that make use of this tactic. It can also assume that your brand believes in certain roles and ideals that limit what a person can and cannot do based on gender. 

  • Can alienate certain audiences

Trying to appeal to a single gender can make others feel alienated. Brands that use gender marketing can also trigger an adverse reaction which can turn away potential customers. 

  • Considered outdated by modern generations

Modern audiences believe that gender marketing can be inappropriate by today’s societal standards. As such, it can be considered irrelevant to what they need and want to associate themselves with. 

Gender Marketing Examples: 4 Brands Breaking Gender Stereotypes

In an effort to support the movement for gender equality, many brands are revamping their campaigns to become more inclusive to everyone. Doing this allows the business to learn more about its audiences while its customers can receive the support they need. Here is a look at some of the companies that are supporting non-conformity. 

The Get Ready campaign acknowledges that gender shouldn’t restrict a person and their grooming needs. Rather than creating separate products for men and women, the company allows its products to be used by all in any way.

Image: Adweek

The #ShowUS campaign strays away from traditional beauty standards for women. Instead, the feature empowers its audience and teaches them to love and be confident in their own skin. Regardless of their flaws, beauty is defined by their own terms. 

Image: Dove

Partnering with Vogue magazine, the special issue features accomplished women over their 50s. The campaign aims to battle against age discrimination, showing that older women can still achieve more. It also reminds its audience that aging is a normal process in life and shouldn’t be considered an issue in your career. 

l'oreal non-issue, gender marketing
Source: British Vogue

GoldieBlox aims to “inspire girls the way Legos have inspired boys.” The company gained exposure after its Super Bowl ad, which featured young girls building complex toys, rejecting the “princess” stereotype. GoldieBlox continues to create toys, games, and entertainment for girls to develop their interest in engineering and problem-solving.

Evolving Further with Modern Movements

Gender-based stereotypes influence society in many ways, especially with the daily products people use. However, with the world becoming more liberal in its expression, marketers are slowly breaking away from these traditional labels. 

When the requirements of various genders can differ from one another so widely, gender marketing turns into a complex field. Some approaches may work, while others consider them to be outdated. Yet, when you learn how to redefine these so-called roles carefully, you can build new strategies that can expand and connect with your audience. 

Learn how you can continue the movement in breaking gender stereotypes by partnering with a digital marketing agency like Spiralytics. Reach out to our team today for a consultation.

How to Create Buyer Personas for Your Business

Gender Marketing FAQs

1. How effective is gender-based advertising?

Gender-based marketing can be successful given that you specialize and understand the needs of your target. Otherwise, it can have the opposite effect and turn your audience away. 

2. How do consumers perceive gender-tailored marketing messages?

Consumers don’t want to feel like they are being alienated from a group or forced to conform to a certain standard. They often look for brands that match their beliefs and understand what they want and need. 

3. Are gender roles irrelevant today?

Gender roles remain an important part of society today. Younger audiences express themselves beyond the standard male or female role and diverge beyond the spectrum. Today, more people are opening up to the idea of other identities like non-binary, bigender, and more.

4. How can gender marketing create stereotypes?

Gender marketing builds stereotypes based on ideas of what a man or a woman can and cannot do. Doing this creates an image that leads other people to behave in such a way that follows these roles. 

5. How do gender stereotypes affect society?

Gender stereotypes can change how a person sees themselves and those around them. It can also make an impact on how they perceive the world to work. As a result, it can cause discrepancies between beliefs on how someone must conform to certain labels.