Brands are finally coming around to breaking down traditional gender roles.
As we note in our recent “State of Men” report, conventional ideas about male and female domains, activities, behaviors and styles are evolving: With Millennials leading the way, we’re moving toward a more nuanced concept of gender that revises old assumptions. Some brands have been slow to see the opportunities to market to a new cohort. (Though arguably some, like Chick Beer and, notoriously, Bic, may have been too hasty to see opportunity.) Hasbro didn’t spot the interest in an Easy-Bake Oven among boys until a petition from a 13-year-old girl collected 40,000 signatures last year; the brand agreed to produce a version with gender-neutral design and packaging.
Time recently listed a range of brands that are “defying sexual stereotyping,” including Spanx (with its line for men) and the National Football League (with more ads for merchandise and clothing featuring women). Two more brands are now crossing traditional gender lines and thinking about their appeal to female consumers. While Chevrolet normally emphasizes the “connection between a man and his truck,” around 11 percent of truck drivers are women, according to the company. A new commercial for the 2014 Silverado features a female rodeo competitor who’s using the truck to tow her horse. Meanwhile Johnnie Walker will be striking a more “unisex” tone, especially in the U.K., a Diageo executive told Marketing Week. While the marketing won’t specifically target women, the company is looking at how to better appeal to women (via sampling activities, for instance), “without feminizing the category.”