Why is gender stereotyping still king when it comes to packaging design?
Right here, right now, women are in the majority when it comes to gaming; it’s perfectly acceptable for men to wear make-up; and marketers don’t rely solely on the traditional ABC demographics anymore – they’re taking into account individual preference and browser history. Yet when it comes to packaging - the last and most powerful call to action in our decision to buy - this disruption of gender norms is still largely ignored. Here, consumer stereotyping is alive and well.
Sadly, there are good reasons for continuing gender bias: just last month, a study from Social Psychology revealed that food packaged according to gender stereotypes is more appealing to both genders, while The Drum reported on similar findings from easyFairs showing that women are more likely to respond to personalised and gender-specific packaging.
But that doesn’t mean the outdated concept of “blue for boys and pink for girls” should remain all-pervasive. Blind adherence to this mindset has resulted in numerous cases of overdone over-feminine and over-masculine packaging. As an American abroad, I can testify that the situation is even worse across the pond. (Take Axe’s shower tool, for instance, a beefed up sponge for all those tough guys who want to keep clean without feeling like a girl.)
Yet products that were previously aimed largely at women have since caught on amongst men. Despite a penchant for the Shoreditch beard spreading across the faces of men across the UK, a third of the male population here is still not averse to some face moisturiser and a dab of body lotion.