Breaking out of Marketing Stereotypes

Breaking out of Marketing Stereotypes

Do you market to stereotypes? Whether you are selling print or digital, do you make assumptions about what your customers look like and how they behave? Or do you base your messaging on robust data? Too often, we do the former without realizing it.

A great example comes from the self-care industry. According to a study from Pew Research, Millennials spend twice as much on self-care as their older counterparts (“The Millennial Obsession with Self-Care”). The study finds that Millennials, both men and women, are looking to take better care of themselves physically and emotionally. This is a huge opportunity for the self-care industry. Yet, Shahla Hebets, CEO of Think Media Consulting, points out that there is a missed opportunity, too. The imagery, messaging, and experience of self-care marketing focus primarily on women. In doing so, brands miss an entire segment of the market.

Another example comes from the gaming industry. We tend to think of the best audience for gaming as younger male consumers squirreled away in their rooms, even though more than one-quarter of all gamers are over 45 years old and 52% are women (“Born Online: Unwrapping Direct to Consumer Brands Reshaping Retail,” IAB UK/MTM, 2019).

The lesson is clear. When it comes to messaging and audience selection, your marketing efforts should be based on research, not “common knowledge” or what your gut is telling you. Marketers are particularly prone to this blunder when it comes to demographics like age and gender. Millennials, for example, are often mistakenly characterized as self-absorbed and irresponsible. The Silent Generation is often categorized as closed-minded and uninterested in technology. Most childcare responsibility is assumed to be held by women.

Some brands are taking these stereotypes head-on. Swiffer, for example, made a splash with its television ad of a homeowner looking into the camera and saying, “I’ll admit. I didn’t keep my place as clean as I would like. But who has time to chase around dirt, dust, and hair?” With a dash with a Swiffer product, however, the homeowner sweeps the entertainment center clean, exclaiming, “Gotcha!” It’s an entertaining ad, but the star is not a mother of two. It’s a single man in a high-end apartment.

Are you missing marketing opportunities due to stereotyping? Before deploying your next print or digital campaign, analyze your messaging and challenge any stereotypes you might uncover. Don’t leave opportunity on the table!