Advertising Age hasn’t inspired too much blog fodder of late; perhaps it’s due to its new ugly format and thin reporting. It was too serendipitous, though, that in the June 3, 2013 issue two stories about gender marketing with men and Ruffles and women and Oakley appeared pages apart.
Which got me thinking (always dangerous).
Why do brands continue to have gender marketing challenges in this day and age? You know, the era of women’s equality, stay-at-home dads, paternity time, and breaking the glass ceiling, etc.?
The sub-head of the story really surmises the irony of this brand’s challenges, “At the $1 billion (yes, billion) apparel and eye glass company, the women’s business accounts for just 10% of sales, making it the biggest opportunity.” (Read that again without gasping, really?)
Apparently, the brand has attempted to sell to women but has obviously failed. No women were managing teams; they were in product development roles instead. Pink became the predominant color of choice for the women’s line because male leadership thought every woman identified with that. Few women were positioned in leadership ranks and testosterone prevailed in the male-dominated company.
Same-sex companies targeting same-sex customers does not beget inter-gender marketing success; I guess Oakley found that out.
Hmm, I wonder if Proctor and Gamble has noticed a trend for Daddy Mamas and is redoing diaper branding to make the box more manly?
Ruffles, the potato chip with ridges, has always been a family brand – moms buy and the family eats. Getting too family for its britches, brand marketers sent a team of women into bars to immerse in the male snack-food psyche and crack the bro code. Men, who are too close to men, couldn’t master such research due to the introspectiveness of that analysis (or some such).
For three years (wow), the women infiltrated the snack-food brotherhood and learned a lot that resulted in these adjustments to the lowly potato chip with ridges:
- Men shop for junk food on impulse; 25% of chips are purchased in smaller sizes.
- The brand began to target millennial men.
- Packaging was redone with inspiration fueled strictly with testosterone.
- A spokesman the likes of Ron Burgundy meshed with Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood (how the heck are they millennial inspiration?) was created, named Ruff McThickridge.
- The Ultimate Ruffle was born with thicker, manly ridges along with Ruffles Max to go alongside the beer (not so heavy).
- Flavors were beefier and included beer-battered onion rings.
What’s so astonishing is the longevity of both these brands. Oakley is 38-years-old and Ruffles has to be older than that. How is it that this kind of eye-opening gender marketing research is happening now?
So glad it is, as I pity the poor man who can’t have a potato chip because the packaging is too girly. As for my sunglasses? I think I’ll settle for my Prada. Goodness knows those Oakley wraparounds would totally interfere with my curls.