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Gender stereotypes in marketing

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Delhi South chapter.

The term gender refers to the social, psychological, cultural, and behavioral aspects of being a woman, a man, or any other gender identity. Usually, gender is divided into two types- man or woman (binary) in almost every culture, and those who do not fall under these categories are called non-binary. Now, this was about the term gender but how it got incorporated into the field of marketing is a big question. No doubt that gender has a profound impact on every aspect of today’s life but along with that certain stereotypes are deeply ingrained. Women are traditionally referred to be homemakers, whereas males are referred to as breadwinners. These gender stereotypes are strongly embedded in a number of ways, from the attire that children are required to wear to the sorts of TV advertising to the depiction of male and female characters in stories and textbooks.

In terms of marketing, by the 1940s, manufacturers realized that if products were presented differently for each gender, it would enhance sales, and this is known as market segmentation. While some people are unaware of this, aisles containing items for men and women sometimes stand in distinct locations in large supermarkets. Customers are primarily concerned with “their” region of the store and pay no attention to what is not immediately visible to them.

To be deemed male or female, a brand or product must have a strong connection with a certain gender in the eyes of the consumer. Companies strive to create items that appeal to stereotyped men and women while building a male or female image for them, and they only promote and advertise the product in that image. Men and women are thought to have fundamentally different lives, which determines the items they buy. This behavior is taken into account while creating, marketing, and selling things. Gender roles have so become a significant economic influence.

The pink-and-blue division is one of several marketing tactics. Certain colors are linked with distinct genders, according to this preconception. Pink is often seen to be for girls while blue is thought to be for males in Western cultures. Toy packaging and garment designs clearly state whom they are designed for. While girls are given pink gowns, Barbie dolls, and decorations, guys are given racing car beds, superhero bags, and guns.

Rather than generating preconceptions and traditions, the toy business supports socially generated gender differences. It also reinforces in the minds of children and parents that playing with toys designed for the opposite sex is inappropriate. In a 2017 survey, more than 75% of those asked thought that parents should encourage young girls to play with toys or engage in activities “associated with the opposite gender.” However, when it came to boys, support dropped dramatically, with just 64% of men overall believing that encouraging guys to participate in activities traditionally associated with girls was a positive thing. People who were older or more conventional were far more likely to say it was a bad idea.

The pink tax is another source of inequality. The pink tax is not a literal tax, but it alludes to the reality that women must pay more for the same goods than males. In the United States, a federal study looked at 800 gender-specific items from nearly 100 businesses. According to the report, equal personal care items sold to women frequently cost 13% more than comparable goods marketed to males. A UK poll found that women’s deodorant was 8.9% more costly than men’s. On the one hand, we underpay women for their labor, while charging them more for essentially comparable items than men.

Furthermore, the concept of plus-size apparel emerged with the positive goal of being inclusive, yet one can see how this idea acquired discrimination. There is no plus size section for guys, which, once again, focuses exclusively on women in specific areas of life that are considered ‘beauty’ related. There is an additional tax on such clothing known as the “Fat Tax,” which is another form of injustice and exploitation.

What can be done to prevent marketing firms from employing such tactics? To be honest, it is a painful fact that marketing businesses’ reasons for gender-based segregation are pretty strong since it increases their sales. However, allowing this to reinforce gender stereotypes is undesirable. As a result, it becomes critical to focus on the flaws in every notion. Toys that are gender-neutral, for example, or understanding that boys may play with dolls and girls can play with automobiles, would be really beneficial. The concept of plus apparel is fantastic, but we want to strive to make it ‘truly’ inclusive. If there are distinct plus-size areas for women, there should be separate portions for guys as well. Our goal should not be to raise the prices of things for women, but rather to raise their wages to match those of men in order to close the gender pay gap.