Ditch the Pink

Pink razors, gendered earplugs, and tape “for her”. Gendered marketing is becoming a growing trend as manufacturers are beginning to discover the “niche market” of women. What this trend typically amounts to is a product that is similar to the “male” counterparts – but painted pink or purple! When BIC released their “Cristal for Her” pens, the company was met with intense criticism pointing out their laughable marketing blunder.


One reviewer wrote: 

“I had my man read me the packaging details because it was so beautiful I just HAD to know what was inside. I discovered that it contained something I did not ever believe possible. A pen. For me! Now I just need some pastel coloured books so I can learn to read and I’ll be able to use them to write by myself. At last! Thank you, thank you bic. My womb is throbbing at the very thought of holding such a thing! My husband says before long I’ll be able to write my very own shopping lists and cake recipes”. [1]



Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/bic-cristal-1-0mm-black-mslp16-blk/dp/b004f9qbe6


I think it is fair to state that manufacturers are missing the mark when it comes to advertising and creating products geared towards women. 


Globally, women account for 85% of all consumer purchases including “big-ticket expenditures” such as new homes, cars, computers, and healthcare coverage. [2] Additionally, in the United States, women represent between $5 and $15 trillion in purchasing power annually. [3] The fact that women are still considered a niche market is astonishing, and I have struggled to understand why manufacturers and marketers have neglected to recognize women and build a true market relationship with them. 


Despite the expanse of female influence on the markets, 91% of women feel that advertisers do not understand them, or their needs. [4] A fine example of this can be found in any home improvement store, where one can find a pink hammer targeted at the DIY-ers, and of course, the husbandless women. What the pink hammer does not address is the fact that most women struggle to hold even the average-sized hammer. It may be more practical for tool manufacturers to focus on resizing their tools to fit women’s hands than to paint everything pink. 



Retrieved from https://www.buzzfeed.com/lanesainty/when-gender-expectations-meet-capitalism


The bottom line is this: marketers need to understand women and their needs in order to reach this critical consumer base. Easy. Let’s just show marketers these numbers and go on with our lives. Here’s the problem: despite the overwhelming statistical and anecdotal evidence stating the contrary, businesses are simply not convinced that the return on female-focused marketing will outweigh the costs. This idea is fostered at multiple levels, all revolving around the fact that most business decision-makers are male and therefore lack the knowledge of and empathy for female-oriented marketing strategies. 


Female-oriented marketing has proven itself to be successful and influential. However, it is commonly dismissed as un-inclusive and accused of cutting the market in half by alienating men. The data proves that this is simply untrue. Prior to the launch of Fenty in 2017, beauty brands argued that the development of more than 8 standard shades of foundation was not feasible due to a lack of demand. Despite these warnings, Fenty produced 40 foundation shades and made more than $100 million within their first 40 days. [5] Not only did Fenty close a major gap in the market, but it also utilized thoughtful marketing techniques to promote a culture of self-love and body positivity among women. Additionally, in reference to Fenty’s lingerie line, another market space that Fenty thoughtfully entered, an article in Harper’s Bazaar states: “Unlike any lingerie show or ad of the past, Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty is shown through the female lens. It wasn’t about catering to what men want, it was about women defining and taking control of their own sexiness—on their own terms”. [6]



Retrieved from https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/-fenty-beauty-inclusive-advertising/


The review speaks for itself. Targeted advertisement combined with attentive product development allows manufacturers to capture the female market and address the needs of this large consumer base. Unfortunately, we aren’t seeing these changes and it is precipitating the continued misrepresentation of women in the marketplace. 


  Clearly, a change is in order for manufacturers, and marketing professionals everywhere. This change will necessitate a shift in the mental map of the business industry; industry workers must recognize that women are not a niche. Products need to be designed and marketed with women in mind. The problem here is not that the products are pink and flowery. Reflecting on the earlier reference to Fenty, one can easily see that most of the company’s products are marketed as being overtly feminine. The issue is that oftentimes businesses use this paint job to mark a product as gendered without making the necessary changes to enhance the functionality of the product for women. In order to truly address the needs of women and market to the female consumer base successfully, businesses must reflect on their products and identify where their marketing message may be falling short. It will require a diversity of thought, which yes, means including women in the marketing processes to ensure that the needs of women are met. A better understanding of female needs will reduce the generalizations seen in marketing materials and most importantly, will compel businesses to ditch the pink.


– M.M.



[1]  Landers, L. (2017). Bic Pens for Women Have Some Laughing. Retrieved from https://girlpowermarketing.com/bic-pens-for-women-have-some-laughing/

[2] Landers, 2017.

[3] Girlpower Marketing. (2020). The Purchasing Power of Women: Statistics. Retrieved from https://girlpowermarketing.com/statistics-purchasing-power-women/

[4] Girlpower Marketing, 2020.

[5] Tucker, K. (2019). Women: The Ultimate Niche Market? Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kendalltucker/2019/01/03/women-the-ultimate-niche-market/#4a9feb1e2f8c

[6] Fisher, L. (2019). Women Were Incredibly Moved By Rhianna’s Savage X Fenty Show. Retrieved From https://www.harpersbazaar.com/fashion/fashion-week/a29143403/rihanna-savage-fenty-show-2019-reactions-reviews/


One thought on “Ditch the Pink

  1. Nancy Burdine says:

    Excellent article. Suggested changes in marketing, and even more importantly, designing products designed specifically for women is necessary and wise from a marketing standpoint.

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