The Gender Retail-volution

Insight: Your gender stereotypes are becoming increasingly invalid and may be turning off shoppers.

When I was pregnant with my now-eight-year-old daughter, I made the mistake of telling family and friends that I was expecting a girl. As a result, I received several frilly, often pink, outfits as gifts for her. I hate frilly and I especially hate pink. Since, I’ve paid keen attention to the gender-based shortcuts made by product brands and retailers. Broad audience assumptions are rampant at retail, and often off-putting.

Young and over-55 males are a growing primary grocery shopping segment and more men are buying cosmetics and even handbags. Women are a growing audience for electronics and home improvement retailers. Blatantly sexist messaging at the point-of-purchase can turn these growing audiences away from products, and even online to complain.

At the same time, more people are openly identifying with multiple genders, impacting design thinking. These trends have caused retailers such as Selfridges and Target to explore gender-neutral strategies.

Vision: Make gender-related messaging choices based on the wants and needs of your audience.

I feel like a bit of a broken record, but nothing in this day and age should be a “mass” one-size-fits-all approach. As with nearly every decision, you should decide what gender-focused levers to pull with your shoppers in mind. Research and good social listening strategies are the table stakes.

 In some cases, questioning stereotypes and appealing to a growing sub-segment of your audience can pay huge dividends. In others, have a laser focused targeting strategy makes sense. You have to look at each project through the eyes of your customers.

“Research” doesn’t have to be a costly and time-consuming bad word. Often, concept testing, careful pilot/trial exercises and measured A/B tests are exceptional at helping you get quickly to a scalable plan.

Similarly, the role of ethnicity and culture are important to consider. Your insights can’t only be gender based – an exploration into all contextual impacts is necessary for each design. That is the approach we take at DCI-Artform. We call it Retail Science.

To learn more about our explorations into gender-focused design, contact us today!

**Update: A recent Nielsen report further underscores the need for gender sensitivity at retail, indicating LGBT shoppers represent more spending impact at bricks-and-mortar.

Retail Science Summary

Shoppers – Delight your audience by showing that you truly understand them

Retailers – Make careful choices through insights and testing

Brands – Implement gender-focused messaging cautiously as the consumer environment shifts

Barriers to Purchase – Obvious disregard for the sexual identities of shoppers will no longer be tolerated