The last time you walked into a grocery store, how many options did you have when it came to soft drinks and yogurt? Today the cola wars no longer just mean whether you prefer Coca-Cola or Pepsi, but now they include whether you drink Diet Coke or Coke Zero, Diet Pepsi or Pepsi Max, Diet Dr. Pepper or Dr. Pepper Ten!
Think it’s only an issue in the soft drink aisle? Think again. Take a walk down any aisle in the grocery store and you’ll see the gender divide continue. Thought it was a tough decision choosing from over a hundred different flavors (okay, slight exaggeration there probably) of yogurt, now you have to be sure you buy the yogurt specifically designed for your gender!
“Powerful Yogurt” hit the U.S. market as the first yogurt designed for a man’s health and nutrition needs. According to their website,
“in a niche typically dominated by female consumers, we decided to develop a new Greek yogurt specifically suited to address the unique health and nutrition needs of the most neglected consumers in the category: men”.
Were guys really feeling left out of the yogurt industry? Did they feel excluded from having an all-natural, healthy, and wholesome snack like yogurt in their lunch? Was the picture of fresh fruit on the packaging of Yoplait too feminine that they wanted a bull’s head on it instead? These seriously are the questions I had running through my head when I heard about “Powerful Yogurt”.
How about nuts? Planters created a recommend mix of nuts that gives men exactly the proper nutrition that they need with protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, all that good stuff in a package that specifically says, NUT-rition Men’s Health Recommended Mix. Really? Male consumers can’t just buy a regular can of mixed nuts? I guess not.
Now for the example of gender-geared marketing that truly astounds me: diet soft drinks. Like I mentioned earlier in this post, you walk down the soft drink aisle of your grocery store and it’s no longer a question of whether you want Coca-Cola or Pepsi, regular or diet. Now you get to add in whether you want Diet or Zero, Diet or Max (don’t get me started on Pepsi’s Next or Pepsi’s One), Diet or Ten. Oh joy! Funny story: there isn’t really any difference between all their diet varieties, the only difference is the way they’re advertised and marketed.
Diet Coke created Coke Zero and released it in 2005 to attract consumers who wanted a sugar-free version of Classic Coca-Cola without the “diet” taste that plagues other diet soft drinks. Sounds like a great idea, right? It is until you realize that there is not much difference between Diet Coke and Coke Zero nutrition-wise. Judging from their marketing you’d swear they were night and day products.
Pepsi paved the way for diet drinks by being the first to distribute Diet Pepsi on a national scale in 1964. Like with Diet Coke, after several decades on the market going exclusively after one target demographic (women) it was tough for Diet Pepsi to attract anyone else. In 2007 Pepsi Max (then Diet Pepsi Max) was introduced and again, men were the key demographic that they were hoping to attract. Their ads are huge during sporting events to attract men to their non-girly diet drink.
Think it’s only these two cola contenders that dropped diet from a soft drink name to get men on their side? Don’t forget about Dr. Pepper Ten, the manly version of Diet Dr. Pepper and the only sociably acceptable low-calorie Dr. Pepper drink to consume. No one can forget the ad when it was first introduced in 2011:
Before you get all hot and flustered about the one-sidedness of this blog, don’t worry. Women are apparently too stupid for our own good too, and therefore require special gender-specific products for silly things like pens, cars, and tablet devices.
Last year Bic found themselves in a PR squabble when they released their “For Her” collection of pens that left both men and women scratching their heads. Why do pens have to be designed for one gender over the other? Well, others wondered this and a slew of hilarious Amazon.com reviews were the result of many people venting their frustration over this issue. Even Ellen DeGeneres poked fun at the company’s latest product offering in a hilarious sketch for her show.
Last example, the Eurostars’ ePad Femme rolled out in the Middle East and Asia and has been marketed exclusively to women. How can you market a tablet to only women? Just make sure it comes pre-loaded with lots of “important” and “vital” apps like recipe finders, clothing size conversion, and of course lots of yoga and fitness apps to stay trim and fit with. My favorite quote for this article is from Mani Nair, the Eurostar Group’s associate vice president of marketing, “it makes a perfect gadget for a woman who might find difficulties in terms of downloading these applications.” I’m just going to leave it at that and let you draw your own conclusions.
On the larger scale of woman-designed products you can’t get much bigger than a Honda Fit She’s (complete with heart as the apostrophe). Priced at the affordable and reasonable price of $17,500 USD (currently it’s only available in the Japanese market though, so apologizes to the U.S. women) available in both Pretty-In-Pink and Eyeliner Brown. What makes this a car specially designed for a woman? It has UV-blocking window glass to keep our skin from aging prematurely as well as a “plasmacluster” climate control system that Honda claims “can improve skin quality.” Thank God Honda is looking out for us ladies, all the other car companies apparently want us to look like we’re 90 years old when we’re 45.
It’s easy to see why companies have as many products as possible to sell, even if they introduce something into the market that is very similar to what they’re already offering. More products means more chances of converting consumers to your brand over your competitors. However, are these gender-specific products and marketing techniques really necessary? I’ll let you be the judge of that.
My blood pressure is rising and I need to go take a walk and pet a puppy or something. What are your thoughts on gender-specific products like these? Do they make sense to you? Devil advocates and debate seekers, I’d love to hear your opinions in the comment section below.