Oct 20, 2009

Pink bits: the absurd world of gendered consumer products

Marketers have never abandoned the idea that men and women require their own ‘special’ products. Women’s products are often tinted pink and advertised with cuddly names and breathy female voiceovers. Insulting much?

Mel Campbell — Freelance journalist and critic

Mel Campbell

Freelance journalist and critic

Last week I blogged at The Stump about Hummingbird Blonde Lager, National Distilleries’ new beer “for the girls to enjoy”. It comes in a 250ml bottle for little girly hands and little girly stomachs, and is flavoured with “citrus” (which one? Who knows) to get rid of that nasty beer taste.


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18 thoughts on “Pink bits: the absurd world of gendered consumer products

  1. Jim Sutherland

    Advertising is about increasing sales. By turning an inaminate object like a spanner / phone into a gender based object by painting it pink you increase your market.
    Also there is a legitimate difference in the product – I know my daughter would buy the pink toolkit in preference to the boring chrome set – its not a question of sexism, her personal choice is for brightly coloured consumer items where as I find the bright colours offputing.

  2. John Molloy

    This looks like something worthy of study at the Ponds institute. Also, while on the subject, why do men need their own skincare product, Nivea? Good luck with that. I am in favour of pink razors for women. Saves me a lot of pain if I confuse mine with hers. My wife’s car is a medium hatchback, black. Mine small, silver. A previous car written off while parked. A woman in a four wheel drive hit the go pedal instead of the stop one and had a four car accident, all cars other than hers being parked. My present car was repaired after a woman turned right in my path. Am I attracting the wrong sort of women? Ramble on…..

  3. SBH

    Don’t forget Nutri-grain Mel, in their current blurb they note that “boys need protein” so what do girls need? That’s leaving aside their hideous deification of the only boy child as the appropriate object of a mothers love.

  4. Tom McLoughlin

    I guess you won’t be buying Barbie Camper ‘non stop glamour’ as per tv advert recently. Advertised on Mornings Ch9 last Sunday if memory serves while I was waiting for political shows. I got to thinking is this GFC fallout or what? Hanging out in camper vans. But I googled a youtube just now and it’s got provenance back to 1971. The 2009 version is complete with sister ‘Skipper’ and another fashionable sibling brat. Those Americans and their funny names. Maybe Falcon is in there hiding in the seat?

  5. meski

    I don’t like the taste of beer (so deport me as unAustralian) but can’t imagine what making it citrus flavoured would do. Blame Apple for the colour theming idea, but the pink bit is a bit cringe-worthy.

  6. james mcdonald

    The sad thing is that advertising science is pretty much empirically based, so while individual campaigns may miss their targets, overall trends do not miss. And the overall trend may have less to do with s-xism than with the increasing neotenisation (i.e. the tendency never to fully mature into adults) of urban society.

  7. Lucy

    There is also that ad in which a couple discusses the merits of a 4WD: he (being a bloke) loves its mad performance specs, whereas she claims to love it for its MP3 player. Cos chicks are incapable of appreciating a car on its merits – they just dig shiny frippery.

    I received an email from Borders with Mothers Day gift suggestions: a schmaltzy Ronan Keating CD, the latest Jodi Piccoult, cookbooks, something called How to Love, and the DVD of Marley and Me. Women’s gifts, you see; there is no chance that a mother would possibly want to read philosophy, or economics or politics or even real literature.

    And manscaping products are gendered the other way: tough products for blokes. Bold colours or black packaging, strong citrus scent. Often with a utilitarian hook: it’s not just a shampoo, it’s anti-dandruff. Which is practically medicinal and therefore nobody will think you are, you know. Effeminate.

  8. notmensa

    Citrus-flavoured wheat beer is great – beer shelves in Germany usually have a selection of flavours. The Barvarian Beer Cafe here does a fresh peach one.

    As for the raft of new products, Jim’s got it right. Most new products (or variations on existing ones) are launched after substantial market testing – focus groups, product trials, etc. Either there are lots of people who like this stuff, or lots of people lying to market researchers.

  9. SBH

    I don’t think I’d over stress the scientific nature of marketing notmensa.

  10. AR

    Does the Hummingbird girly-beer come cheaper due to their lower pay..? jes askin’

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