You can walk up and down the aisles at your favorite drugstore and easily identify the products that are intended for men vs. the ones meant for women. According to research from the Environmental Working Group, the average American man uses six different products each day while the average American woman uses double that amount.
But other than the number of products being used, there aren't many differences in these products when it comes to formula. Visually, things are another story. Product names and packaging are much more specific in targeting the genders. According to a recent article via the Huffington Post, "big brands like Dove (Dove's Men + Care) and L'Oreal (Vive Pro for Men) manufacture gender-specific products that use stereotypical ideas of masculinity and femininity to target shoppers."
The article goes on to say that "men's products tend toward science imagery (check out the "ions" on Degree Men) and pro tool-shapes (doesn't the Dial For Men container look like a car oil bottle?), while women's packages showcase flowers, fruit and cocktail dresses."
With women making 85% of the household purchasing decisions, health & beauty branding for men's products could be two-fold. First, the obvious thought would be that products are packaged appealing to men's sensibilities that buying shampoo is embarrassing, but buying shampoo in a dark gray bottle shaped like motor oil isn't.
The less obvious strategy, but one we feel might be likely, is that women are actually the ones buying the products for the men in their lives. Where a guy might grab the first soap he sees to get in and out of the store quickly, a female consumer might take the time to seek out a soap or body wash that she feels her husband or son would actually use and like. If our theory is correct, who does that mean the health and beauty brands are marketing to? Even if the products seem to target men, they may be just targeting the women who shop for men. Regardless, there is evidence of the power of the purse and we invite companies and brands to tap into it, for their own sake.
FletcherPR is a national communications firm that specializes in reaching women through the power of media. Headquartered in Knoxville, TN with staff in Nashville & Los Angeles, we are a full-service agency providing strategic public relations, social media and marketing communications services to our clients throughout the U.S.