Monday, March 15, 2010


Trust me, it makes a difference. If you are close on this one you are probably ok, but if you get this wrong it will cost you dearly. The reality is that the gender of your product or service shouldn’t be specifically male or female. The good news is that you have a choice in the matter of its gender because you are in charge of creating and judging it.

It is a well-known fact that over 80% of purchases, by volume, in this country are made by females. Given that, have you noticed that over 80% of all products and services are not colored pink? Why not? The answer is rooted in how comfortable all of us, boys and girls, are with our sexuality.

As it turns out, women are very comfortable with there’s while us boys are a little behind and are still struggling with ours. We will know that the boys have made it when Kobe Bryant introduces his new pink basketball shoes and no one considers it unusual. That may take a while.

Over and above communicating our selling propositions, you and I as marketers must accommodate this gender reality. Over time, I have developed an operating approach that insures gender alignment with both sexes.

Assume there is a left to right horizontal line in the middle of a blank page. It is defined with an “F” at the extreme left and an “M” at its extreme right. That represents female on the left and male on the right. Located smack in the middle of this continuum is a short vertical line that separates the two genders equally.

Let’s assume for this demonstration that we are selling a product or service that is sold to both men and women with the exclusion of women’s fashion. Our example includes everything from cat litter, to dry cleaning, to a travel agency, to condoms. Yes, 35% of condoms are purchased by women. Conventional wisdom would indicate that the gender of your selling proposition should be smack in the middle of our continuum. Not so.

Given that the gender is a judgment call, your personal observation, you will shoot for an image that is approximately 1/3 from the midpoint to the far right masculine side of the continuum. Shooting for this will insure that if your judgment is off, you are still safe. I can assure you that if men perceive your image as feminine you will suffer the consequences. Conversely, women frequently choose both feminine and masculine images with ease.

The learning here is to play this safe and get on with fine tuning your selling proposition, knowing you have avoided the gender trap. Others, unwittingly have not.


Keith Chambers

Keynote Marketing Speaker
Creative Marketing Consultant
(310) 473-0010

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