The Northway Group

Gendered Marketing

The future of gendered marketing is on a slippery slope right now. You might have heard about Target’s decision to take out Gendered Toy Labels from their stores back in 2015, and you might be wondering if it was an effective move on their part.


Even in an open household like mine, gender labeling doesn’t go undetected. Last year for Christmas, my little cousin was upset she couldn’t find a pink Nerf gun for her sister. Advertising and society told her that girl stuff is pink and purple, even if she missed the larger message often conveyed—that Nerf guns are for boys.

Children are listening. But it appears adults are not. Some of the comments in response to Target’s decision were shocking.

But from a marketing perspective, gendered marketing can be good. For many, that’s the end of the conversation. Pink appeals to women because it’s girly, black and blue to men because they’re strong. Marketing departments have figured out the formula, it’s been instilled in us as consumers since before we even knew anything about colors, and that’s just the way it is. How well would a pale pink and bedazzled Harley sell? Because the Harley Davidson brand’s personality is perceived as rugged, tough, classic and cool, probably not all that well.

Likewise, a dark gray Venus razor with a straight, not fancifully curved, handle would likely confuse female consumers. It wouldn’t attract male users because of the perception and connections made with Venus razor and femininity. So what did Gillette do? They produced the same razor in black and green, but called it Gillette Body. They also nixed the “passion,” “embrace,” and “sensitive” terminology and instead put “engineered.” Because science.


Here’s a video that could put some of this into perspective.


The Northway Group is changing with this tide. Like Target, we’ve seen that people are responding better to their decision to take the signage out. So Northway has been open minded with their designs and creative process. Most of our team are Gen Z, and have dealt first hand with gendered marketing all their life. Most of our designs are unisex unless specified by our clients.

We understand the change in our generation and want to accommodate and progress with the times.

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