Well, wrong. At least when it comes to shopping whether online or off. Stereotypes in marketing are the norm (or at least were the norm) because they allowed consumers to quickly identify themselves in a campaign.
The most obvious stereotypes are gender. People very rapidly identify male and female images in ads and almost as rapidly identify gender-based iconography such as trucks (male), lipstick (female), swimming pools (care to guess? Male if selling to middle-income consumers, female is selling to the upper-income consumers).
The great thing about this rapid identification is that it allows marketers to equally rapidly catch consumers off guard. Imagine a cosmetics commercial that shows a man putting on lipstick. Depending on what follows in that ad, the brightness of the lighting and the colors of the room in which the act occurs, that ad will sprout legs or not. Have the man in a brightly lit, steamy bathroom, towel around his neck, powerful arms and chest showing, hair wet and tussled as if just from a shower and the consumer is greatly confused.
Have him do a bad job of putting on the lipstick, then turning to his wife who’s sitting on the tub rim watching him, hiding her laughter poorly and him saying, “You’re right. This is tougher than shaving” and trust me, you’ve sold that lipstick to both genders. It’ll fly off the shelves.
The above commercial scenario is mythical (if you ever see it, call me immediately). It’s an example of the types of suggestions NextStage gives clients world wide about cross-gender marketing, about getting her to shop for him and him to shop for her and having both genders understand what goes on in the others’ mind.
Another comment that I often hear is “Men shop Victoria’s Secrets™ for men, they don’t buy baby-doll lingerie for women.” I’ll accept that in many cases and here’s a variation you can use when you want men to purchase clothing for women; In your print or video spot have something that clearly shows a male in too-tight clothing (a recognizably tight pair of shoes can make the point when done well). Make sure his face or gestures demonstrate his discomfort. The tag line is “You look your best when things fit right. So does she. Know her size before you buy.”
Consider a female to male example (and I’ll admit examples of females failing to shop accurately for males are harder to come by. Women are much better observers and have far better spatial and physical memories then men do. Men may remember how to get somewhere but women will immediately know if something has changed since the last time they were there).
Let’s say she wants to purchase some cigars for him. She’s seen him smoke cigars before and even tried one herself so she knows the name and smell. She wants something special for him, though.
It’s that last part that makes it easy. There are so many mundane things one can purchase (underwear, socks, beer) that knowing if the man places some kind of ceremonial meaning to an object gives the woman lots of power in knowing how to purchase. Males like to be rewarded so even a mundane purchase gains meaning if the male will get that Tim Allen “Argh argh argh” sense of masculine fulfillment from the socks, underwear, beer or cigar she purchases for him. And if she purchases the baby-doll? She knows ahead of time she’s purchasing it for him and that he’ll be expecting a reward.
So let’s return to that steam filled bathroom and let’s make it a mundane purchase — razors. She’s standing behind him, lathering his face then drawing razor A down one cheek then razor B down the other. She says, “You’re right, there is more drag. I’m buying you Brand B from now on.”
All the examples I’ve listed share three things in common:
- One gender learning about the needs of the other
Simple, yes, and also the key to designing campaigns that both allow and encourage the genders to shop for each other; Give them insight into their partner’s mind, make them laugh (or at least chuckle), tie it to personal comfort because everybody wants to know their partner feels good about themselves and about being their partner. Numbers 1 and 3 are musts, humor is the icing on the cake and it serves to break any tension that might arise from normal female-male/male-female interactions.
Please contact NextStage for information regarding presentations and trainings on this and other topics.
Links for this post:
- Guest Blogger Joseph Carrabis Answers Dave Evans, CEO of Digital Voodoo’s Question About Male Executives Weilding Social Media Influence on Par with Female Executives
- Gender Based Marketing BizMediaScience Blog Posts
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