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Gendered Marketing Strategies [Apr. 30th, 2004|07:52 pm]


I thought I'd explore the differences in the websites of products marketed mainly to males (I chose condoms) and products marketed to females (I chose tampons). I wanted to choose a female contraceptive device, but there weren't any that were strongly branded the way condoms and tampons are.

I went to the Trojan and Durex websites, as well as the Kotex and Tampax websites. I found that both condom websites were similarly structured--they had a no-nonsense sort of layout--with information, downloads, and even games. There were few graphics.

The tampon websites both greeted me with huge photodisplays of smiling women from what appeared to be diverse backgrounds. The websites appeared to be created to be pretty and comfortable-looking, and seemed to have a conversational tone. For instance, where a condom website would have a link that said, "Info Center", the tampon website would have something like, "Info, please!"

Tampax said, "Would you like your next period to be more comfortable? Find out how!" This link to you to it's tampon selector. Trojan, on the other hand, just had a link saying, "Trojan Selector".

Kate Bornstein, a male-to-female transsexual says that before her transition when working in sales, customers would want to hear her "expert opinion". But when she presented herself as female, they no longer wanted any facts or opinions from her when deciding on a product.

I get this impression with these websites. The condom websites are upfront informational, while the tampon websites adopt a friendly tone. To me, this feels condescending and sexist and seems like an example of creating a certain role for women to fulfil to keep us down.

What do you think? Is this difference in marketing strategy significant? Does it reflect social roles or mirror them or is it irrelevant?

Here are the websites I checked:

[User Picture]From: anagnorisis
2004-05-01 04:00 am (UTC)
What about stats and market shares and all that financial gobbledygook I admit to knowing nothing about? E.g. say that condom maker X was a clear leader on the market and thus could afford to 'take it a bit easier' on the marketing, while tampon maker Y might be facing strong competition not only from tampon maker Z but also have to try to convert women that prefer pads to tampons, so they'd be pulling out all the stops in an attempt to make themselves as agreeable as possible to their target audience. (Note that I've no idea what the specific circumstances of these companies and the market in question are, that was just meant as an example of what factors might influence such things.)

Are condoms marketed mainly to males? (A half-random aside: which are used by more women in the US, pads or tampons?)

Social attitudes towards sex and menstruation obviously differ somewhat... What role might that play in which marketing strategies are adopted by the companies?

What about how these marketing strategies have changed over the years? (If they have...) For example, perhaps condoms were marketed in a blatantly sexist manner before, but the onset of political correctness forced a change in that? (Also, I'd be inclined to think more women are also purchasing condoms nowadays, so there'd be plenty of incentive to make sure female customers aren't put off by their marketing by not making it overly male-specific, whereas tampon makers don't really need to consider male customers.)

If the marketing strategy works, is it still sexist? (I'm not saying yes or no at this point... I'm undecided; thinking.) Of course, I can come up with plenty of examples where the answer would be yes, and reasons for why it could be yes in this specific case as well (e.g. perpetuating stereotypical attitudes).

I've no answers, only more questions!
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[User Picture]From: this_marionette
2004-05-02 01:22 am (UTC)
I have found this attitude, too. Most often the 'no-nonsense' ads are for 'men's' products (like hardware), whereas the 'adveritising a lifestyle' ads are for 'women's' products (remember those 'I'm young, and I love to you be young ...' tampon/pad ads--I don't remember the brand?).

It's all very insulting. Being female does not mean I need a product wrapped in an image to buy it. I can discern what I want/need WITHOUT it being shoved down my throat, surrounded by so many unrelated layers of wrapping that I choke on it.

Sorry, I really have nothing to contribute except my agreement, and a mini-rant of my own. So I'll just leave it at that. Thanks for posting something interesting and well-researched.
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From: _heretical
2004-08-02 09:57 am (UTC)
amen to that.
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[User Picture]From: brown_eyedgrl
2005-02-12 06:00 am (UTC)
I hate the advertisements for tampons. It's like the women in them are embarrassed to have their period and the majority of them act like it's the overwhelming thing to have each month or it's gross. It's really annoying.
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