Stepping into the shower at my brother’s home recently, I was faced with a stark choice. Use the MAN shower gel or face the prospect of crossing a marble floor soaking wet, as I went in search of GAL shower gel.
In those split seconds, I wondered what the prospect of smelling like a man for the day, might bring… The good news – for me at least – is that there was no discernible difference. A man still shook his fist at me as I overtook him in my car. (Note to self: next time open the window and perhaps the waft of MEN shower gel might get a toot for my awesome driving skills!) Perhaps, secretly, I had hoped for a discernible difference.
On a serious note, it’s not surprising that of the 500 marketing and packaging professionals surveyed recently by easyFairs, 42% believe that gender cues sell more products.
Yes folks, we’re that easily persuaded! Or, maybe we just want retail manufacturers to pander to our differences. Come on, take note that I’m a man or a woman and sell me what I will want, or at least what every psychologist, marketing person and so on tells me that I should want?
Proving this point, I wouldn’t dream of buying the disposable razors that I bought many years ago. If it’s not pink, purple or pearlised blue, with extortionately expensive refills and a self-sticking tab to hang it in the bathroom, I’m not interested. Why pay 97 pence when I can spend a tenner?
The real nugget in all of this is surely gender contamination. The point at which a product is so strongly associated with one gender that it can’t be sold to the other.
That’s why I was heartened to learn recently that we (as in we, the human race) can be a perverse bunch. According to the Wolin Journal of Advertising Research (2003), branded packaging for men is more easily sold to women, which is borne out by the fact that squared-off Dove soap sold quicker (by millions!) to women than to the men it had been designed to appeal to.
Fortunately, this survey and many others are wise to the fact that, a jokey, self-deprecating sales message often works. The sort of “we know, that you know, that we know we’re suckers for this kind of thing” approach. So next time I come across a product branded ‘for men’, I’ll be less hesitant. There are some exceptions, of course!
Ok guys, see you in the queue for Brotox!